Tag Archives: military significant others

PCS: Panic, Cry, Scream

ShannnonSeb1In the military community, summertime is notoriously known to be “PCS Season” – the most popular time for service members to receive new orders, or their “Permanent Change of Station.” In my world, I like to think of it as “Panic, Cry, Scream,” because that is usually how I feel shortly after we get the news of our new orders. Panic sets in when I realize all the things already on my To-Do list, followed by a good cry because, once again, it’s time to pick up and find a new home. Screaming happens frequently as the time to move gets closer. To-Do lists are left undone, there are no more tears to cry, and whether I like it or not, change is coming.

That’s the funny thing about this lifestyle – being a military family. Change is inevitable. I remember the turning point when I realized life was going to change drastically. This moment left me with no other choice but to embrace change.

I left my small hometown in Florida in 2009, where I lived for all 23 years of my life, and moved with my now-husband all the way to Oklahoma. He and I had been dating for a while and being left behind while he got new orders to Oklahoma was not an option. I was going with him whether we were married or not! I packed all my things from the bedroom I’d grown up in, took the furniture from my room which still showed 10 years of pencil marks my mom made to track how much I’d grown, and began dreaming of a new life in the Midwest.

The morning came when we packed the car, said goodbye to my mom and dad, and set off for our new installation. I took in the moment like it was the last breath I’d ever take. The smell of pine trees mixed with the humid Florida air while my parents stood at the end of the driveway, waving as their only child drove away. I was fresh out of college, unmarried, and leaving my Southern bubble behind.

Then it hit me. Thoughts scrambled through my head as all the familiar things I knew and loved passed by the car window. My mind raced and all I could do was embrace the change that was happening. I had to be brave and fearless, kind and understanding. It was time to be determined and ferocious to take on the military “lifestyle” and be the best supporter I could be for my service member. This was the moment life changed for me.

I married my husband seven months later.

ShannonSeb2

I never dreamed of a life as a military spouse. In fact, I never dreamed of a life outside of my small, Southern town. Call me naïve, but I did not think life existed in a world where there was no sweet tea, or beach access. Choosing to pull out of the driveway that humid morning in 2009 has been the best decision I have ever made.

Today, I am a strong-minded, gritty military spouse with a few years of deployments and PCS’s under my belt. I am resilient and determined to make the best of any situation. I have learned how to rely on like-minded people for support. I have figured out it is okay to attend military balls wearing the same dress each year because, chances are, no one would remember. I learned how to be a banker, chef, tailor, and nurse!

Change is inevitable, especially in the military culture. It’s important to remember that each PCS is a chance to see the sunrise from a new place, meet new friends, and find new adventures. Maybe it’s not “Panic, Cry, Scream,” but instead, “Perfect Change of Scenery.” I’ll tell you firsthand, our first PCS was a pivotal moment in my life, and it has shaped who I am today! Embrace it and see what kind of person it makes you.

Shannon-SebastianBy Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Know a Military Spouse? Here are 6 suggestions on how to show your appreciation!

Know a military spouse? We've got suggestions on how to show your appreciation!Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day! Whether you are a military spouse or not, often times people are not sure how to thank spouses for their dedication and sacrifice. It’s easy to acknowledge and thank a service member, but how do you thank those who hold down the fort, raise our Nation’s children, and keep our service members in the fight each and every day? They don’t wear a uniform, but they serve too.

Well, we’ve got you covered with some help from our dear friends! Chris Pape, founder of Macho Spouse, provides his tips on appreciating our male military spouses and Alice Swan, blogger at DCMilitaryFamilyLife.com, offers her advice on how to pamper our female military spouses.

Got A Male Spouse You Want to Thank?

Chris Pape shows us that the best way to show appreciation for a male military spouse is to keep it simple, genuine, and acknowledge that they are out there!

Neighbors: Do you live near a military family where the serving member is female? If so, congratulations! You’ve found the rare breed of male military spouse. The best way to “appreciate” this man is by not embarrassing him with lavish gifts, but maybe just a simple hand-shake and “thank you.” If you’re inclined to do more, we appreciate beer, nuts, chips, bacon, and beer. But again, a simple thank you and appreciation for all we’ve sacrificed for our wife’s career is more than enough.

Family: We would appreciate just one day free from jokes about how our wives “wear the pants/boots” in our family. Maybe stop by the house and watch your grandchildren for a few hours, or a phone call to simply ask how we’re doing. A genuine conversation about how we survive this crazy military lifestyle can go a long way.

Community: A “Male Military Spouse” appreciation day that includes fishing, golf, brewery tour, visit to Home Depot, and a baseball game would be great! There are a million simple ways to appreciate any military spouse, and we are grateful for all of them. However, the men just ask that you’re conscious of both genders that serve as military spouses.

Got A Female Spouse You Want to Appreciate?

Alice Swan helps us realize that small things can make a huge impact with the ladies!

Neighbors: Do you live near a military family? You could drop off a plate of cookies, a restaurant gift certificate, or a casserole on Military Spouse Appreciation Day to recognize the sacrifices that spouses makes on behalf of our Nation.

Family members: Is your daughter, son, sister, brother, niece, nephew, etc. married to a service member? A card of thanks and encouragement would be a wonderful gesture. So few of us get meaningful mail anymore, so what a great surprise it would be to find a note of support in the mailbox.

Community: Churches could offer a Spouse Appreciation “Night Out,” providing free child care, or a Spouse Appreciation Breakfast or Tea. Local businesses could offer special discounts to military spouses. Wouldn’t a spa day be a great offering by a local salon?

In addition to these awesome ideas, the National Military Family Association created free Military Spouse Day eCards that you can customize for the military spouse in your life. Send an eCard to show your appreciation today!

How do you show appreciation to military spouses? As a military spouse, what has someone done in the past that meant a lot to you?

How the Five Love Languages saved a military marriage

Guest Post: The Five Love Languages - National Military Family Association blogValentine’s Day is the one day each year designated to celebrate love. For many, it’s highly anticipated. The chocolates, the flowers, the romantic, dim-lit dinners without kids—all something we (especially women) look forward to. Who doesn’t love romance and attention? Unfortunately, our relationships and marriages are not always in the best condition so to speak. If you are like me, the military lifestyle began to put my marriage through the ringer. Not on purpose, of course, but deployments, crazy hours, and TDYs certainly didn’t help. As the military lifestyle started wearing on me, both my husband and I let it wear on our marriage. Communication ceased and left us living like roommates with our marriage tearing at the seams.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to receive assistance on the Oprah show from Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, a New York Times bestseller. His insight on relationships and marriages is brilliant. With the help of Dr. Chapman, my husband and I were able to see what was tearing us apart and obtain the skills to piece our marriage back together.

We all need to be loved and have certain ways that we express our love, but the problem is that your spouse might not feel loved by the way you show it. Most likely, you are not speaking their individual love language, you are speaking yours. Have you ever gone to another country and the people spoke a different language and it became frustrating when you could not communicate effectively? That is how it is in our relationships. We normally use our own love language to communicate love and affection even if it isn’t necessarily our spouse’s love language. This approach can leave you tired and frustrated – I know it did that to me! But there is hope.

Dr. Chapman says there are five love languages that we use:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

His book teaches you how to speak your spouse’s love language, and who doesn’t want to learn how to make their relationship with their spouse better? It can be fun and exciting learning how to relate to your spouse, especially if their love language is physical touch (wink, wink). With the help of Dr. Chapman, my husband and I are now better able to communicate. We can’t let the lifestyle that we military spouses endure affect our marriage!

Learn your spouse’s love language and how to express it to him or her. Marriage is beautiful and coming together for a common purpose with a partner that loves and cherishes you is incredible. It is a rocky road sometimes, but learning how to communicate effectively will make your marriage stronger and unstoppable. Speak one another’s language and feel the success in your marriage that will come from it.

Do you know what your love language is?

Guest Post by Amber Turner, Air Force spouse, hippyfitmom.com

So you love a service member: partners, parents & significant others

So you love a service member: partners, parents & significant othersSo, you love a service member. They could be your son or daughter, your boyfriend, or long term partner, but there are likely a number of things you’ve yet to understand about the military lifestyle.  As an “outsider” on the inside, it can be difficult to feel connected to the military community, especially when your service member is deployed or away on duty.

Modern military families take on many different shapes and forms, and it’s important for you to know the basic information and resources available to your unique situation.  Getting everything down can be confusing, even for those that grew up in the military, let alone for parents or boyfriends trying to nail down the logistics. Whether you think an FRG* is the toy robot your nephew wants for Christmas, or you just want to know how to keep in touch with your service member while they’re deployed, the new Partners, Parents, and Significant Others section of our website has you covered. Find information particular to those new to the military lifestyle or just approaching the military from a new perspective. Acronyms, benefits, and information for caregivers—we’ve put it all in one place!

As a non-ID card holder, you are likely not near a military installation, and there are many things that you might not have access to.  Your service member is always your best information resource, but they might not always be available to help with questions and concerns as they arise. Create your own military community by staying in the know through your service member’s leadership, and becoming part of local groups and organizations that provide support and resources. With our nation at war for more than a decade, it is an especially difficult time to have a loved one in the military, but having the right resources and information can help provide some stability in the most unstable of times.

*an FRG isn’t a toy robot—it’s a Family Readiness Group.

Experienced military families: what’s something you’ve learned that you would pass on to a non-ID card holder as they learn more about the military?

maranathaPosted by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor
at the National Military Family Association