It was hard coming up with a title for this post, because “education” just doesn’t seem like the best word. It sounds like something you get in a classroom, from books, and from listening to learned instructors. The wisdom I’ve gained as a milspouse has been much harder than that.
I think the hardest part of the kind of wisdom I’m talking about is that no one can tell you what you need to know.
Oh, you can sign up for a seminar at Fleet and Family Support, buy a book from Amazon, or get some handouts at an FRG meeting. And there are all kinds of things that older, more experienced milspouses can tell you, about deployment schedules, planning moves, and going it alone. That might help with some of the small stuff. But you can never really be prepared for this lifestyle. Just as it is with parenting, you really just have to learn from experience.
For military spouses, wisdom really boils down to learning the hard way how strong you really are. That is something we all have to learn individually, because we are all different.
One thing that I have learned is NOT true, is the old cliché that God gives the hardest stuff to the people who are strongest, and so we should take hardship as a compliment. I know for sure that is a bunch of bull. So is the one about how God will only give you as much as you can handle.
I know that we all have breaking points, and I know this because I have seen people break. People who were very close to me, who always smiled and said they were fine.
I’ve learned that stress is not something that just affects those with high-pressure jobs. Or rather, I have learned that being a milspouse and a mom IS a high-pressure job. And that being female and in my thirties does not make me immune to chronic stress. It can and will take me down and give me double pneumonia.
Now that I think again, I have to say there are some things that I HAVE learned from other people. I’ve learned from some very generous and big-hearted milspouses that there are times when you should show up on a person’s doorstep, walk in, and roll up your sleeves to help. Not only unasked, but even despite protests. Because it is notoriously against a milspouse’s nature to ask for help. But nobody told me this, I learned it when fellow milspouses walked in and cleaned my bathrooms, or put casseroles in my oven, or took my toddlers out for a walk on a random afternoon.
They say that one of the reasons that people join the military is to challenge themselves, to learn to be stronger than they thought they could be, and do things they aren’t sure they can do. I think being married to the military is very similar. Of course we aren’t facing combat, but we do sacrifice, and face loss and hardship and heartbreak. Not to mention home repairs.
And like our spouses, some of us get out at first chance, some hang in a bit longer, and some decide to make it home and stay in for the long haul.
As a long-hauler, I can say I am surer of my strength now, and honestly believe there is little I can’t survive.
And what I do know for sure, is that God doesn’t send us hardships because He knows we can handle it. He sends us love and a dedication to service, to face the hardships, and to help each other through it.