You Know You’re a Military Spouse When…

sunset-on-baseMilitary life is a funny thing. Nothing ever seems to stay the same, but somehow, we embrace change as our “normal.” Finding civilian friends who understand your “normal” is another funny, yet rare thing – much like a unicorn. We know they’re out there, and when we find one, it’s magical. While not all of our civilian friends understand military life, there’s always a military spouse out there who can relate to the exact place you’re at in your life.

In honor of your “normal,” here are a few of the funnier ways you know you’re a military spouse:

  • You have enjoyed a beautiful sunset on your installation, complete with barbed wire fences in the view.
  • The majority of your laundry consists of camouflage, green shirts, and brown socks. If you’re Navy or Coast Guard, it’s blue shirts and black socks.
  • You can pack and unpack a house within a couple days, but you still have a few boxes that haven’t been unpacked from your move 2 years ago.
  • Your kids have a drawer full of soccer jerseys from playing on so many different teams over your years of moving around.
  • You use a military I.D. all the time and get frustrated when places ask for a “real I.D.”
  • You still find colorful little moving tags on various pieces of furniture even though it’s been a year since your last PCS. Bonus points if you’ve found multiple tags from multiple PCS’s on the same piece of furniture.
  • You don’t panic when your doctor walks in wearing ACU’s or BDU’s.
  • You know that a month-long separation is short, no matter what anyone says.
  • You read all of the homecoming banners on base and smile over each one. Then wonder, “What will my banner say?”
  • You save voicemails from your spouse, so you can listen to them anytime you think of him or her.
  • You have two anniversaries: your Justice of the Peace anniversary and your wedding anniversary.
  • You answer your spouse’s text messages with “Roger.”
  • You know there is no such thing as “planning in advance,” and you know you can’t make solid plans on where you will spend Christmas until the middle of December.
  • You have three jobs on your resume for the last two years.
  • You know your spouse’s social security number better than your own and often confuse the two when filling out documents about yourself.
  • When you go out on the town, you constantly have to point out that your date of birth is on the back of your military I.D.
  • You celebrate holidays based on duty schedules.
  • You have 20 different sized curtains to fit all the different windows of houses you’ve lived in.
  • You refer to your spouse’s friends by their last name. And no one holds it against you if you don’t know their first name.
  • You have found at least 10 different sets of orange foam earplugs in the washer or dryer.
  • You always have to explain to employers why you have had so many jobs by age 26. Then you hope they take you seriously knowing you may be leaving soon.
  • You have a Florida driver’s license, with an Oklahoma license plate, and you live in Virginia.
  • You are a pro at prepping a dress uniform.
  • You tear up when you hear “God Bless the USA,” even though you’ve heard it 50 times before.
  • When your spouse is deployed, you are married to your phone, email, and/or Skype.
  • You know to stay FAR away from the commissary near the 1st and 15th of every month, and if you absolutely have to go on those days, it’s a planned mission with emergency exit options.

Can you relate to any of these? If so, let us know and submit your own in the comments section below!

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Online Engagement Manager


Add yours
  1. 1

    haha I had to laugh at a good few of these.. Especially the ID one. I recently went into a convenience store and tried to use my Military ID. The clerk said she couldn’t accept it because it had to be a government issued ID…. ??? I said not only was it government issued, but it was “the property of the US government” lol.. Then I showed her my Driver’s License because she didn’t get the joke…

  2. 3
    Colonel Patricia Halsey-Munroe

    Paid kids $1 for each moving label they found on furniture and removed. $2 for older labels! They left some for times when they might need money!

  3. 5
    Michelle Joyner

    I love these. My favorites are planning holidays around duty schedules, and calling everyone by their last name. In some cases I mistakenly thought their last name was their first name (ie Curtis) I felt so proud of myself.

  4. 6
    Chris Ward

    So true! And to add to what Michelle Joyner said, calling your spouse’s buddies by their call signs, because you don’t know their real names!!!

  5. 9

    after 40 years as a spouse I have live thru all that and I still do some of those as a retired spouse I call my spouse by his last name a lot of the times finally had to buy him some clothes the uniforms are still on the back of the closet door

  6. 11

    You know youre a military spouse when you expect to stop what your doing even if you are driving and turn to the music with your hand over your heart as the national anthem plays on duty days sharply at 430pm. Youre also used to hearing taps play at 10 pm every night. Oh and the Giant voice system on the base warns everyone of weather, and has a weekly test every Friday.

  7. 16
    Marianne Richey

    One thing I found amusing was learning the lingo. Everything was referred to by letters. Civilians look at you like you are speaking in a foreign language. Having to go to an FRG meeting because your spouse is going TDY. You have PCS orders in hand, but you have to stop by the ATM to go to the BX. Your pay will be all messed up due to the BAH, BHA, BAQ,VHA (whatever new term they are calling it today), and seperate RATs. Now that my own son is active duty officer and with the Army, I find there are a whole host of different accronyms used for them.

  8. 18

    I can relate to almost all of these… it was fun to read. The one that is the most different for me is that we don’t have 2 anniversaries… we have 3. We have the ‘swearing in’ anniversary, the commissioning anniversary, and our wedding anniversary (and thankfully no justice of the peace)!

  9. 20

    These are great! As a newlywed, I had a Florida driver’s licence with my new last name written on with ball point pen, driving a car with Ohio licence plates, in Wyoming! The cop who stopped me for driving too fast in a school zone (I never saw the sign) took one look at my licence and the licence plate and said “Lady, just don’t do that again.” Sometimes it works in your favor!

  10. 22

    How about thinking, ‘I’ll just unpack the essentials…we won’t be here long…’ And surviving on 4 plates and 3 towels for 2 years because everything’s in storage in another state!

  11. 25
    Carolyn Barnickle Hill

    I have duplicated things to fill-in till my stored life is delivered (I had 3 coffee pots and finally got smart and only got white or brown towels) ..or till you get to final destination. Schooling or training in-route…lol And the brief case of paperwork you absolute can-not lose. Where you carry your,,,,birth certificate, marriage license, school records, orders, kids shot records and copy of medical records…ID cards, vet records (family pictures) and anything that is not replaceable. The military never loses anything…lol

  12. 27

    How about having teaching licenses from three different states all of which are continually renewed because the possibility remains that we will live in those states again?

  13. 33

    I loved this! I’m not a military spouse, but I AM the wife of an airline pilot on an overseas contract. I can relate to the 2 anniversaries thing (this year – our first! – we celebrated the JOP one), the part about not making travel plans in advance (my mom always asks when we will be home – I keep telling her we probably won’t know until a week or 2 beforehand due to my husband’s roster and having to fly standby), making all plans/holidays around spouse’s schedule, tearing up over “God Bless The USA,” being glued to internet/phone/Skype when separated, and having friends who are non-pilot’s wives.. I have a handful of girl friends who aren’t pilot’s wives, but it’s very rare to meet other women who understand what we deal with! Thanks for an excellent post! I feel like I would benefit from some military wife friends! 🙂

  14. 35

    I am not a military spouse but I can relate in this blog. Three of my grandfathers were in the US Navy & my uncles were from the Armed forces of the Philippines. And I’ve seen my what my grandmothers and aunties had been through. But to sum up, I salute all the armies around the world especially their partners who had mastered the words “adopt & change” 🙂

  15. 37

    Never was a spouse, just a Marine daughter and a Marine mother… that kinda sorta counts? right? But seriously to every spouse; I offer my thanks! I know the work that is demanded behind the scenes yet never truly recognized!

  16. 45
    Amazed Dad

    This was way too funny. I was the military member (retired in 2008) and from the years of our experience, my wife and I can relate to all of them in one form or another. This was a great post. My wife today still has some difficulty relating to civilians; she still thinks like a military spouse.

  17. 47

    Ex-forces 1986 and married a civi girl.
    Even after all this time you can tell she was “converted” to mil speak.
    Pretty sure she would have made a good “wife of”.
    Love the post, brought back so many memories.

  18. 49

    Wow!! I am an ‘Indian military spouse’ , but can still relate to this 🙂 having 2 anniversaries, sunset over barbed wires, packing / unpacking, driver’s license, roger that!

  19. 51

    One of my favorites is remembering dates based on where you were assigned at the time–“Let’s see. . . We were at xxx AFB then and that was Sep 1998- Jun 2001 and that happened the second year we were there and and it was summer and school just got out so it must have been the end of June 1999

  20. 53

    My daughter is married to a civilian husband and I have heard her say so many of these things that it made me laugh. She is in Thailand right now and we haven’t seen her since March. Thank you for writing this.

  21. 55

    Thanks so much for writing this! I am not married to a military man but my dad is a retired Navy sub man. I have heard many of these things from people that I know. I wanted to just say THANKS for all that you and your family sacrifices and will sacrifice in the future. Heres a link that I hope you like (the little ones in it are mine) They are already talking about how they want to be just like their Poppy!

  22. 59

    It’s the same the world over. A few years back Australia’s “Defence Family Matters” magazine published a similar list. It had me giggling for days.

  23. 61
    ART by IMI

    My long term boyfriend is in the forces so I have all this to come! Hope it’ll be an adventure and not too much ‘sacrifice’! It’s already been quite an adjustment and we don’t even live together yet. Thanks for sharing this.

  24. 65

    oh yes… but as a retired military spouse, when he was deployed, we only had snail mail, and the occasional $150.00 phone call that only lasted 20 minutes. Great post. People just do not get the life that military families lead. We recently moved and I took my time unpacking… it took three days to be organized instead of one and half… thanks! DAF

  25. 68

    Lol, I found myself laughing at a lot of these. Here’s a few to add:

    When u can pack a months worth of clothes in one bag

    When u have friends all over the country from pcs moves

    When your kids can recite the phonetic alphabet

    When sleeping in means no PT

    When respond with a mos when someone asks what your husbands job is

  26. 69

    When cleaning out and organizing, you turn up change from 3 different countries.
    Your dog has a passport.
    You know how to hide Yankee candles in your HHGs so the movers will ship them.
    You have a baggie full of hardware from different book cases, pieces of furniture, and other assorted items, that you don’t dare throw out.

  27. 71
    Krystal Kemery

    These are amazing! My husband and I were both in. He ended up having to get out due to PTS. Which meant I was left to stay in! These are all SOOO true!! I love my military life! Even when it means I have to leave my 9 month old at home while I go away for a year! It’s a great thing to know I have my family and military friends!!!

  28. 74

    Shannon, I really enjoyed this post. I spent 21 years as a military wife and we have now been retired 23–longer than the years we spent in. I still tear up at parades when the flag passes by, and I have a hard time tossing out curtains because you’re right–for years, we kept curtains that would fit any sized window! My husband proudly wears his Retired Army cap every day (has several, in fact) and we still smile at some of the misconceptions our civilian friends have about military life. (See? I’m a civilian but still think of myself as a military spouse.)

  29. 76

    That was fun to read. My wife is Navy for nearly 20 years and I cannot tell you people’s first name. I never thought about it until reading the list because it becomes so natural to use last name only. And we have boxes we never unpacked from two move ago and we PCS at the being of next year–to the same base we PCSed from 3 years ago (Camp Pendleton, CA). If nothing else, we know how to adapt to most situations with ease, when our civil counterparts cannot begin to imagine: I am currently in GA (for 3 months and counting) while the family is in Japan.

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