When I was first dating Duke he had just graduated college and I knew of his plans to go into the military. I knew NOTHING about the military life. However, I knew I could not marry him because I was not going to marry someone who was going to go to war and be gone all the time. No thank you. So I tried to break up with him a couple times before things got serious haha. We always got back together and when I realized things were serious and I googled the base pay for military folks and thought, "well I guess we'll be poor, but thats ok". Yes, I was willing to be poor lol. (Turns out you get more than just base pay. ) I also talked to an older couple who had retired after 20 years in the military and they told me how they absolutely loved it. That was another turning point for me.
I married Duke while he was in flight school. He was never gone overnights, except an occasional cross country trip. It was great. Then he moved from Corpus Christi to Jacksonville, NC for his last 6 months of training. I stayed behind for 6 weeks to finish my job before joining him. Once we moved to Japan he was gone about 2 weeks of every month and deploys every other year for a few months at a time. On top of that he works long to very long days. Some days he is home by 6:30 other nights it is 8 or 9 or 10 or midnight. There is not much consistency. So, how do I stay happy?? Here are my thoughts...
1. Make good friends. Having really good friends has been my saving grace. I don't have the luxury of having family nearby. I need to talk to adults, get out of my house and feel loved. I heard one of my friends call her good friend her "military wife", I thought that was perfect. These are your friends who invite you over for dinner when your husband is gone or working late, let you be a 3rd wheel on nights and weekends and are there for you when everything is going wrong, your husband is in another country and you can't even call him. These friends keep my world spinning. "It takes a village" is truer no where else than the military. I cannot emphasize this enough! Find your tribe and invest in the people who invest in you.
2. Find your passion. Do you have a hobby? If not you better find one. Your husband will be gone a lot. If you do not have kids you're going to have a lot of free time. Develop your passion and run with it. This will help you to love your free time and keep you busy. If you have kids, you still need a passion to keep you sane. Get a babysitter or find time when they are asleep. Do something that excites you. Mine is taking pictures and editing them and blogging. It's my creative outlet and who cares if you're even good at it. I love creating things even if it's just for myself!
3. Travel. The cool part of this military life is that we get to move a lot. It makes us eager to explore the area we are in and travel to nearby areas while we have the chance. Right now we live overseas so we do a lot of international trips. When we lived in Pensacola we traveled to Atlanta, Jacksonville, FL, the Everglades, Miami, Clearwater and Birmingham. When we were in North Carolina we went to Washington DC, West Virginia, Charleston, Knoxville, Asheville and Myrtle Beach etc etc. Get out and explore. Plan trips for yourself when your husband will be gone so you have something to look forward to. This is one of my favorite aspects of military life!
4. Find the silver lining. Positive thinking is key. If you find yourself down in the dumps and feeling "woe is me" it's most likely your thinking patterns. You have to catch yourself. When I catch myself I get out paper and I write down all the good things about Duke being gone. (You can apply this to any situation.) For example- I don't have to cook dinner, less laundry, less errands, I can stay up in my bed reading late with the light on, I can watch whatever I want on TV, more ME time etc. It honestly helps me. I also hung a sign above my computer that says "A bad mood is a reflection of a negative thought cycle". This helps me to catch myself if i'm replaying those negative thoughts.
5. Surround yourself with positivity. This goes along with the last point. I'm a passionate believer in the fact that positive vibes equals happy life. Find people who lift you when you are around them. Listen to a podcast that inspires you, read/listen to self-improvement books. This helps me to have a constant stream of motivation moving me upwards. You really cannot afford negative energy when you're already running on fumes.
6. Make the most of your time together. I am a proponent of date nights. My parents always made this a priority and I carried it onto my marriage. Especially when you have kids, you need time to connect as husband and wife rather than just co-parents. I also believe that your spouse should come before you kids. Marriage is hard and takes a lot of work and you can't hide behind your kids forever, especially if you want to be happy!
I'd also say that having days that you feel sad and/or overwhelmed is totally normal and inevitable. But remember-You can do hard things.