The military has been a part of my life since I was a baby. I was born on a Marine Corps base and my newborn hospital outfit is literally stamped with MCRD Camp Pendleton. My husband says I was branded from the beginning. The granddaughter of Marines, daughter of two, sister to one, niece and cousin to several others, I too joined the Marine Corps the year after I graduated high school and eventually, I married a Marine. My husband and I got out of the Marine Corps—but neither by choice. Things just worked out in a way that resulted in neither of us being able to stay in. After graduate school, I worked with veterans and their families in crisis—the homeless, incarcerated, and those struggling with addiction or suicidal ideation. Between growing up around the military, my own military service, and working with veterans, there was one area I never experienced—the military spouse. 

There have been several times over the last 10 years of marriage that my husband has gone.  A two-week stint in the VA hospital, weekend trips for work or a family emergency, school requirements that took him out of state for the weekend or a couple of weeks at a time are some examples of when he has left, and I’ve been home with the children. Most recently was a three-day trip while I was home with an 8-, 5-, 3-, 2-, and 5-month-old. It was three days, but by the end, I was feeling broken. When a friend checked in on me, I told her: “It’s nice to have him home. I could NEVER handle military spouse-hood. God knew this!”

Being a wife and a mom is hard work, regardless of life circumstances. Then, there are circumstances that can add a layer of additional challenges. I have friends whose husbands work in a power plant, where a couple of times a month they have outages where their husbands work hours on end, don’t take time off, and rarely see their families. I know others who have husbands who work as truck drivers, gone for days or weeks at a time on long drives across the United States. Then there are those who have first responders for spouses. They get called into work for emergencies, work hours past their shift was supposed to end, and bring home stressors from their day that we all see on the news but stay in their memories long after the rest of us have forgotten. 

Then there is the military spouse. While I can’t speak directly about it, I can see it. Being a military spouse is HARD. The deployments, the changing schedules, the moving, the feeling of coming second to a job, and the lack of control (to name a few) are just some of the many struggles a military spouse may experience. It’s probably why in May 1984 Ronald Reagan declared April 17th to be Military Spouse Appreciation Day: and in 1999 Congress changed the day to an entire month! Some chose to enter the life when their husbands joined after getting married, deciding together that this was the next step for them. Others met and married when their spouse was in already, choosing to join them on their journey. Maybe you had prior military connection—a parent, sibling, friend, etc., or maybe you had no idea what this experience would look like. In the Marine Corps, many joke “If the Corps wanted me to be married—they would have issued me a wife.” 

  • Some days, it feels like your spouse is married to their branch of service instead of to you. 
  • Some days, you struggle with an overwhelming sense of loneliness or feelings of isolation.
  • Some days, you find yourself overwhelmed with the never-ending list of tasks that must be completed without the help of your deployed spouse. 
  • Some days, you find yourself unequipped for fulfilling the role of mother and father for those periods of time when you don’t have communication with your spouse.
  • Some days you miss having someone to brainstorm with, to help address the struggles your children face, handle the flooding toilet in your house, take the car to get repairs, or be home for the 1 a.m. trip to the emergency room. 

It’s easy to forget in our society that God designed parenting and marriage to require two people. In the moments above, it becomes fiercely evident. 

Thankfully, in God’s grace, He gave us encouragement and wisdom for the trying times we face as wives, even in the most difficult of situations. Leaning into His word can provide comfort and direction. There are some great ways we can learn to thrive in the extra-challenging times that may come in different seasons of being a wife. 

Reading a Proverb a day. The wisdom and comfort provided in the book of Proverbs is a simple way to start interacting with the Lord that doesn’t get overwhelming or confusing. With 31 chapters, they easily correspond with the days of the month. Find yourself forgetting? Give yourself grace and easily pick up the next day with the corresponding number! 

The Right Support. If you are like me, you may find yourself so desperate at times for friendship, you’ll take what you can get! Unfortunately, this may mean you also find yourself surrounded by the wrong types of people. Be careful and intentional about who you let in your life. Ensure it is someone who speaks Biblical truth and doesn’t merely flatter you, agreeing with everything you say. The wrong people in our lives can cause damage in our relationships, even if they have the best intentions.  

Memorize a verse. Sometimes reading a whole chapter is difficult when you find yourself manning the household solo for months at a time. You might not be able to listen to a podcast and the reality is that with children, you can never truly schedule a set period for solitude. Between sickness, nights they can’t sleep, and fits, we never know what’s going to come up with our children. Picking a verse to meditate on can be extremely powerful. Pick a verse for a week or two and work on memorizing it. Write it on a card, record yourself reading it and then play it back, find a song that sings it, write it out a couple of times, even teach it to your children. Pray it back to God and ask for insight on how He wants to apply it in your life. 

Challenging times won’t ever go away completely in any relationship, though some of us may find ourselves seeming to have them more often than others. Remember that keeping our eyes on Christ in those moments can make a world of difference in our own strength and the strength of our marriage. On these last few days and weeks of Military Spouse Appreciation Month: Thank you for taking the role. Thank you for supporting your military spouse, and for the sacrifices you make daily. Remember your strength, where it comes from, and how to renew it when you feel like it’s disappearing.