Traits Resilient Military Spouses Share
My first year as a military spouse was admittedly overwhelming. We had been married for four years and always lived within a few hours of family. Now I was part of this nomadic tribe of spouses who seemed to handle the world so much differently than I had ever witnessed. I wondered if I would ever tackle this unusual life with the seamless grace displayed by many of the experienced spouses I encountered. They all appeared to share the ability to handle trials with confidence and I wanted to understand how they perceived military life. I now know what they possessed was resiliency.
Resiliency is the ability to handle trials and face them effectively. The great news is that our resiliency muscle can be stretched and strengthened, and the results can mean the difference between enjoying time as a military spouse and counting the days until your family’s separation from the military. Resilient spouses share a few common qualities that allow them to be their best selves in the face of adversity:
They set goals
This is relevant both during deployment and while your military member is home. Accomplishing a goal that is both reasonable and that also pushes you out of your comfort zone affords a feeling of accomplishment that is hard to duplicate. Using challenges like deployment as a timetable to achieve something you have been putting off or scared to try is a great way to make the months fly by.
Life challenges: Don’t force them to hit the pause button
It is easy to look at your day and tell yourself X or Y prevented you from accomplishing that one task you promised yourself you would complete. The resilient spouse knows that roadblocks will not simply disappear, we have to work around them and carry on. We cannot change what we cannot change. We can only control our own behavior. Whether it is a deployment, a move, a new squadron, or family challenges, we have two choices. We can either make excuses to hide out alone and annoyed, or remember that life is moving forward outside our door and that we should move with it.
“They know that wherever you go, there you are.”
This is one of my favorite quotes from an experienced military spouse that stands the test of time. No matter your circumstances, the resilient military spouse knows they need to make the best of their surroundings, and moreover, learn and grow from their environment. One day, when your military spouse journey is over, and you head to a “forever” home, you will have the benefit of a vast world of experience. Every duty station will have positives and negatives, so roll with the punches.
Incrementalism is their strongest plan of attack
Incrementalism is just a big word that means small steps are often more productive than attempting a sprint to the finish. Being a superhero every day is impossible, but small steps make it possible to see obstacles in our path before we trip over them. Resilience means taking on daily challenges with perspective rather than allowing the small things to build up and become insurmountable. When the kids are sick, the bathroom floods, and the car gets a flat tire all on the same day, that certainly isn’t a great day, but the only way to eat that elephant is one bite at a time. When you successfully make it to the end of a crummy day, reward yourself and feel confident that you are capable and strong if you believe you are.
There is an app for that
Healthy self-care habits are a critical step to overall mental and physical well-being. Apps like Habitica, Shine, Productivity Challenge Timer, Wonderful Day, and others can help keep you on track if you like having an outside accountability partner, but don’t have anyone close that can fill that role, or you prefer to keep your personal goals personal. Remember there is also a support network of fellow military spouses that have been where you are and are willing to help when you need it.
Remember, taking charge of your day doesn’t mean it will be perfect, it means it will be yours!