Who Encourages the Seasoned Military Spouses?

At some point, after juggling multiple challenges of military life, relocating your family, re-starting your career, and navigating a lot of time apart from your spouse, you’ve gained invaluable experience and become a seasoned spouse.

On the one hand, for some, there’s a badge of honor that comes with being a seasoned spouse. You have interesting stories to share. You have learned your own strength and coping mechanisms, and you know how to navigate military resources. You may mentor other spouses who come to you with questions, seek your advice, or marvel at how you appear to handle military life so well.

But on the other hand, being a seasoned spouse can be an invisible burden.

After living through a few years of military life, you may feel others expect you to have it all figured out. Maybe it feels like others assume you already have support and don’t need any extra help. Or maybe you feel like you’re expected to put on a brave face and just get things done. It can be a very lonely and frustrating stage of the military journey.

Who will support you?

When you first became a military spouse, you were probably full of energy and excitement. Every move was faced as a “new adventure,” and each time you poured yourself into encouraging your family to make the most of the new location. You got out and explored, signed up for new activities, changed your job, tried new things, and sought out new friends.

But now, after multiple years, houses, and duty stations, you are just worn out. Moving doesn’t feel like an adventure anymore—just an expensive and draining hassle. You are tired of putting on the brave face.

Who will be there to encourage you while you are encouraging others?

Sometimes, the more experience you have, the more invisible you feel. The longer you spend in military life, the heavier this burden can become. When you are a seasoned spouse, you don’t need a “Military 101” informative pamphlet. Instead, you need someone who understands that it is exhausting to be moving, again. You need someone who can relate to the challenges of solo parenting. You need a hug from a mom with older kids, who understands that navigating high school or college with a military kid is different than the challenges you faced when they were in preschool.

Who will truly see you in every new stage of military life?

When I wrote my book, “Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses,” I wanted to create short letters that would speak to a spouse in various moments of the military life journey. So yes, the beginning of the book talks about boot camp and your first military ball. But I also wanted to make sure there were supportive letters for the challenges that more experienced military spouses face, especially near the end of their service member’s career. That’s why there is an entire section for Seasoned Spouses, with letters like “Open When You’re Tired of Military Life,” “Open When Your Child Leaves the Military Nest,” and “It’s Time to Leave Active Duty.”

Because, dear Seasoned Spouse, I see you. I am right there with you. I have been with my husband for all 20 years of his military career, and we still have a few more years to go before he will retire. I know the struggles of the seasoned spouse because I—and many of my military friends—are all going through them together. At times we feel invisible, unsupported, not sure of our identity, overworked, and tired of volunteering for everything.

But, I also see the incredible strength and passion in the military spouse community. I know that even though this is a new stage of life for you, it has the potential to be a very rich and rewarding stage. You have learned so much, and you absolutely have something to offer the milspouse community. The challenges that seasoned you can inspire others. The lessons you learned through grit and determination can save others from pain and heartache. Every trial that you overcame now has a larger purpose.

And so, seasoned spouse, I am here to support and encourage you. I see you through all the different stages of military life. And I wrote a book with letters that will speak to you and meet you where you are right now. I hope you will check out “Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses” to find the words you truly need to hear today.

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