Expect the Unexpected


There are a few certainties in military life: long lines at the Commissary on payday, acronyms for everything, and your plans? They are a-changing.

As a brand-new Navy wife, actually fiancé, the military messed with our wedding date, causing us to scramble and get married on a random Thursday.

And on our first anniversary, I cried my eyes out alone on my kitchen floor because my husband was supposed to be home to celebrate with me but his boat had been delayed a few days. I can still feel the anger, confusion, and sadness I felt as a young newlywed.

The military hasn’t changed the way it operates, but anticipating the changes makes all the difference in how spouses cope, pivot, and accept the inevitable course correction.

If you’re a planner, it may seem that the military is out to sabotage your carefully crafted schedule. The fast is changes out of your control can wreak havoc on your emotions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

When you want to dig in your heels and scream about how the military has messed with your life plans, or at least your dinner reservation, try these tips instead:

Write in Pencil

We live in the digital age, but you get the idea. Homecoming dates will change. There will be trainings with little notice given. So if your service member can’t be there for your weekend camping trip or Christmas, understanding and flexibility can go a long way. Remember, it’s just a day on the calendar. There is nothing wrong with delaying your celebration until you can be together.

Focus on the Positive

When you anticipate these schedule changes, the military can’t surprise you anymore. You are ready and have a back-up plan. Instead of wallowing alone drowning in tears (which feels appropriate but is rarely helpful), get out with girlfriends instead. Call your mom. Queue up that chick-flick he refuses to watch, or vent on the MSAN- New Military Spouse Support Forum here. Unexpected days alone can feel like a punch in the gut, so flip the narrative to view them as bonus personal days.

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

Moving to a new duty station is one of the biggest changes you’ll endure. Everything is new: dentists, hair stylists, kids’ activities and friends. It is normal for life to feel unfamiliar after a relocation. Going to a command-sponsored event, as hard as it might be, is how you start to meet people. And when you find a friend you can laugh with, you will realize that with every pivot you are finding your groove, gaining confidence, and gathering stories for a lifetime.

When your civilian friends are settling down into homes where they will raise their kids through high school and you are living in temporary housing on an unfamiliar base waiting for keys, it is easy for bitterness to creep in. Instead, acknowledge that your life as a military spouse is different, and then buckle up, expect change, and get ready for course corrections that are part of the military journey.  

Carlie James Petrovics is a freelance writer originally from Georgetown, Delaware. (4).png