Finding Your Tribe As A Military Spouse

I’ve always been an independent person. In high school and college, I never felt an overwhelming need to be the center of anything, and you wouldn’t find me in large groups of people on any given day. It wasn’t a matter of fitting in, because I could find a way to get along with even the most difficult of people. It was just that I preferred having a few close friends that really cared and understood me, than a ton of friends that I only saw once in a while.

After Kyle joined the military, I found that there were very few people I could relate to. My very close friends stuck by me, and we fumbled our way through the first couple years. But meeting new friends could be quite the challenge. I would tell them that my boyfriend (at the time) had left for Basic Training, and the general response was that it must be “so romantic!” Like every military relationship is a Dear John novel. I came to realize that explaining what the military is really like to someone who hasn’t experienced it is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree.

Finding your “tribe” as a military spouse is tough. It’s discouraging, frustrating, and disheartening at times. In the same sense that you won’t want to be friends with some people because they can’t seem to understand your viewpoint, some people won’t want to be friends with you for the same reasons. When it comes down to it, we need some people in our lives that either understand, or are really trying to.

For the friends that don’t know the military lifestyle:

Be Patient

It’s hard to be patient with people that don’t understand things that are so obvious to us now. They don’t understand how leave works, or why you need a Power of Attorney. They don’t understand why he just can’t “say no to the deployment” or wear his cover indoors. But they’ve never needed to understand these things; they’re not expected to understand. And that’s okay.

Forgive Them

There’s going to come a time when you snap, break, lose it, whatever you want to call it. It might be during deployment, or maybe just a regular Tuesday. And you’re going to need them more than ever. So forgive them for their shortcomings, and all the moments that you wish they would just understand. They’re trying just like you are.

For the ones who do:

Let yourself need them.. a little

It’s not easy to step outside your comfort zone, especially when the situation is already stressful. I made my first military-spouse-friend during a pre-deployment Yellow Ribbon ceremony. I was in the middle of taking a million preparedness classes, and we ended up sitting next to each other. She waved me in, like she needed someone too. And we just clicked. It doesn’t always happen that way, but she’s been a blessing; someone I didn’t even know I needed. Her husband is deployed with mine, so together we vent about the military here and there. But we also talk about all of our dreams for what we’ll do when they come home. We keep each other looking forward.

For both:

Find positive people

Stay away from negative people, because with them comes negative situations and thoughts. If you find that every time you’re around a certain person, you’re complaining or venting about everything, then that might not be the right influence in your life. You might need to step back and make sure that this friendship isn’t affecting you negatively.

Don’t fake it

Every military spouse knows how to put up a good front, some more than others. I still struggle to be honest when I’m having hard time, but it’s a learning process. Be honest with them. Don’t fake how you’re feeling and don’t hide it when you need help. The moments when they need to step in are when you truly get to see what type of friend you have in them, military spouse or not.

How did you meet your “tribe”? Are they mostly military spouses, or not?

 

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13 thoughts on “Finding Your Tribe As A Military Spouse

  1. My tribe at various duty stations are my saving grace. Some friendships have withstood the test of time and others have not. But they were/are all important. My tribe is amazing. We are warriors and I’d be absolutely lost without them. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I tend to shy away from the word tribe, but the reality is when you are a milspouse- finding a community of like-minded friends is one of the most important things you can have! Doesn’t matter what you call them, as long as you can call ON them- right?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate this post! I remember feeling so alone for the first 6 months after moving to our most recent duty station. Kind of dreading our next move, but I know that it takes time. I love how you recommend to let yourself need them. Sometimes we try to be so strong and don’t realize that we can be a blessing to others by allowing them to help us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can definitely be a challenge to find where we all fit, but for the most part, it’s really nice to meet new people and get to know each personality. Letting ourselves need each other is something I continuously work on with myself. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I can relate! Even though I was in a sorority, I had one close friend in college. She doesn’t quite relate to military life, but her husband is a pilot, so she understand the whole husband never being around thing. My 3 other “tribe mates” were or are still mil spouses, and made even the worst of duty stations bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a similar situation – my best friend is not military but has been through it all with me. My other milso friends are ones I’ve “collected” over time through different experiences: going away parties, deployment, etc. They all come from a different stage of my life and they’re some of my favorite people. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this! I always try and find my “tribe” asap after moving to a new duty station. Some duty stations have been harder than others to make friends. It’s weird, but the smaller duty stations I had a much easier time making friends, but larger ones seemed to take forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband’s first station I had non-military work friends and a job, his second I mostly had my husband’s military co-workers (who were mostly women), but the third station I finally realized how much you need military spouses and how awesome they are. Some of those ladies are still good friends from afar today. It’s still always hard to put myself out there to make new friends. But as the military goes, our next move we’re back near some good friends from previous stations and I am really excited about that.

    I will say, I find it even harder to make non-military friends. We are moving a year after getting where we are now, and are likely to move again next year. I find it butting in kinda, if that makes sense, to ask non-military people to understand that transient madness when they have been in an area for years and will be still for years.

    Liked by 1 person

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