Being a military spouse can be really scary and isolating, but it gets easier once you realize tons of other spouses have had those deployment nightmares, too, and they're here to help you manage your fears.
Here is what you need to know before you elope. I asked on Instagram what you want to know about getting eloped. The most common question was “Someone I know doesn’t approve / is upset by the idea of us eloping. What do I do?”
Eloping: What You Need to Know - YouTube
Let’s take a step back. Let’s pretend you’re gung-ho about having a traditional marriage. We’ll also assume it also happens to fit in your financial planning, family planning, and hectic military lifestyle.
Even “normal” weddings are infamous for friends and family having strong opinions and hurt feelings. After all, when you’re footing the bill for a venue, food, and booze, the price goes up for every person you invite. Lines have to be drawn and you can’t invite everyone.
Getting eloped is no different. You have to draw the lines where it fits your life and no matter how hard you try,
Someone’s feelings are going to be hurt.
This is a part of every human relationship you will ever have, and that’s okay! Have a little faith in your friends and family that they will still love you and support you even if they wish you’d have a traditional wedding. That said, communication goes a long way. This goes beyond what you need to know before you elope into what your loved ones need to know.
Take the time to explain to them why you are eloping.
Everyone elopes for different reasons. Sometimes family will assume you’re shrugging off a wedding to avoid them. Not everyone has a smooth relationship with their family, so that is a completely valid reason to elope, too. But if that isn’t why you’re eloping, make it crystal clear so there’s no room for assumptions.
“Mom, I really want you and the rest of the family present on my wedding day, but it’s not a financial commitment we can make. We are ready to get married now, for richer, for poorer.”
Is it just a financial decision? If so, be prepared for objections. They might offer to chip in a little, or say that if you hold off on eloping, they will come for a micro ceremony anyway. Would these reactions sway your decision? Changing your mind is fair game, too. Plenty of girls with big wedding dreams end up flying to Vegas after all the planning stress!
Family offered to fly out if I could give them enough warning. I wanted so badly to say yes, but there was no way we could schedule a day in advance after holiday leave due to my sailor’s rigorous training schedule. I still wish I could have had my loved ones present, but I have no regrets about eloping, either.
You can have a wedding ceremony later.
This is incredibly popular in the military community. Tons of military couples end up getting a quick courthouse wedding over leave. (Shout-out to all my holiday leave anniversary buddies!) They pick a date down the road to do all of the fanfare, such as on their first anniversary.
You can have a beautiful ceremony to recite your vows in front of loved ones and a reception to celebrate, but with none of the legal stuff or name change paperwork to stress over!
Bonus: if you choose this route, you not only get to be married now and have the ceremony of your dreams, you can also comfort friends and family by letting them know there will be a celebration for them to attend soon.
In hindsight, the financial implications of a big ceremony, especially with family all over the country, make it feel a lot less urgent now that we’re already committed to each other.
Instead, we’ll probably have a ceremony to celebrate a special anniversary, like the 5 year mark. We can use it as an opportunity to renew our vows after we have a deeper understanding of the commitment of marriage compared to the newly wedded bride & groom.
What advice would you give your friend who wanted to elope?
Here are 3 painless ways to save money. This article doesn’t include “write a budget” like you haven’t already tried seven different budgets.
No one wants to just “spend less.” Spending money is fun, damn it. I like getting new clothes and eating out! Yet, debts still must be paid and savings accounts must be grown.
So here’s to finding a little balance to your finances instead of bouncing between overspending and feeling deprived.
1. Cancel Amazon Prime
I know, I know.
Amazon Prime is incredibly convenient. Every blogger on Earth wants you to buy stuff on Amazon because they make a few pennies off of your purchases. It is a godsend for anyone who struggles to get out of the house, like new moms. But that doesn’t mean it’s great for everyone or a great way to save money.
While the Amazon Prime subscription is relatively cheap (honestly, what’s $12 a month?), the real cost is that it’s an enabler for impulse spending. Free shipping?! That means it’s not any different than buying stuff from a store, right? Except now you can order things whenever you happen to think of them. Human wants are unlimited.
Think you’re only buying things you really need and were going to pick up anyway? Yeah, I used to tell myself the same thing.
I really need these new cleaning cloths. Cleaning is a necessity. These cloths are microfiber, superior to my current cleaning cloths that are a year old and not microfiber at all. Because when I am cleaning up kitchen or bathroom grime, I really need fancy cloths. My cloths aren’t going to get a good enough clean. My cloths that don’t have any holes in them or anything actually wrong about them at all.
Guys, these are literally just pieces of fabric to pick up dirt or hold cleaning products. I still feel like I need to upgrade them when I’m looking at new items!
It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of convincing yourself you need more than you do. Amazon offers a limitless number of products at your fingertips. If you actually need something, it can wait until you can run to the store. Even the standard shipping on Amazon Prime takes two days to get to your house.
Cancel the damn subscription.
2. Go to an activity that costs money instead of shopping for fun
Yes, you read that right: spend money on an event or class as a way to save money.
How many times have you gone shopping to have fun with a girlfriend? If you’re anything like me, stop number one is for coffee. That’s automatically $3-8 before you’ve even started your designated activity.
A designated activity in which the entertainment is you spending money. Have you ever walked into a makeup store, “Just wanting to try something on for free!” and walked out with a bag of expensive goodies? Oh, um, me neither.
It’s like walking into an animal shelter “just to look” at all of the sad puppies who desperately need homes. If you love dogs and desperately want one, don’t go to an animal shelter if you’re not prepared to adopt.
Willpower doesn’t have to be your strong suit if you know how to avoid temptations.
Instead of tempting yourself with new clothes, expensive makeup or tech, consider the cost of an activity. This could be anything: a yoga class, a wine tasting, a cooking or art class, or viewing a gallery.
Most of these activities are going to be $20-60. You’ll have to pony up, but then your spending for the set time is done. At most, you’ll be tempted to buy the chef’s latest cookbook or decide to invest in future fitness classes. The key is to get in a balanced mindset. It’s okay to spend a little money, but a lot of impulse spending can get you off track. You can save money by making sure your risks of unexpected spending are limited.
3. Set a Food Budget instead of a Grocery Budget
If you’re open to budgeting, you probably already know it can be a powerful tool to help you save money. If you actually use it.
One fatal mistake I’ve made in the past is assuming a tight grocery budget keeps me on track. Instead, my husband and I get fed up with limited options in the house. Then we eat out three times a week anyway because we love eating out.
You can save yourself tons of money by re-framing your category for groceries into a category for all food and drink. This means whether you’re making a family dinner or you’re eat out it all counts against your food budget.
Which food experiences are important to you?
Before you come up with a “grocery” or “eating out/alcohol” budget, decide what is really your priority. If eating out is your greatest joy in life or you spend a lot of time in hotels for work, it’s okay to include extra meals out! No shame for knowing what you like in life.
If your big priority is your health or creating family memories around the dinner table, you’ll probably want to prioritize groceries. It will give you room to splurge on a nice roast or recipes with a lot of ingredients.
That said, if you really want to eat out three times a week while maintaining a modest budget, then you had best be prepared to live off of rice or ramen a la college student for the other meals of the week. If eating out is a priority, don’t buy a bunch of groceries you can’t afford.
Vice versa is true for the chefs among us. If you want to host glorious multi-course meals complete with paired wines or beer on the reg, you have to understand that you won’t have much money left over to go out to a nice restaurant.
Remember that this priority may shift from month to month. During the holidays, you may find yourself going out to eat a ton with friends and family you haven’t seen all year. Then come January, you may swap back to prioritizing family meals at home.
What is something you do to lighten up your spending? Let me know in the comments!
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It didn’t matter that I was coming up with creative ways to tell my sailor how much I loved and appreciated him. It didn’t matter that my sailor was doing my least favorite chore (dishes, ugh) every freaking night. We weren’t speaking each other’s love language.
We needed The 5 Love Languages: Military Edition. No matter how much effort we put in, neither one of us was feeling connected and loved – even though we could see how hard the other person was working!
Ever since my initial Military Spouse 101 workshop, I had the author and counselor Gary Chapman in the back of my mind. One of the base’s representatives had mentioned one of his other books, but when I saw that he had written a military edition for The 5 Love Languages, I knew that was the book we needed now.
I had heard of The 5 Love Languages years before. It’s deceptively simple: there are five types of communication styles for love. Find the one your partner responds to best, and then use that when you want them to feel loved. If you can get them on the wagon too, they can do the same for you.
“Sometimes I get so excited when I finally find a Navy book that isn’t about the Seals I don’t think about whether or not I’m really going to sit down and read 300 pages about The U.S. Navy in the Korean War, you know?” … (Keep Reading)
Who needs a book to figure out The 5 Love Languages?
But understanding the main concept isn’t the same as making your partner feel loved. If you want to solve your communication issues right now instead of in a few months from now, take the time to read every chapter of The 5 Love Languages carefully. Mr. Chapman has the solutions in this book so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
My favorite part of the whole book was that it started a nightly ritual of my husband and I reading together before bed. (It turns out, my love language is Quality Time.) As we continued through The 5 Love Languages, we kept trying to guess each other’s (and our own) love language. Spoiler: we are horrible at guessing!
Thank goodness Mr. Gary Chapman included tons of ways to figure out our love languages. There is a mini quiz at the back of the book, along with a handful of different games and techniques you can use in your own relationships to figure out your love languages.
We’ve also found it really helpful in developing a more even talking-listening balance in our marriage. While my sailor will talk for days if you give him a couple encouraging nods and smiles, I am not as forthcoming with my thoughts and feelings. There are simple but effective games that help practice a balance of communication while honing in on love languages, creating the right environment for a chatty partner to slow down and make space, and a reserved partner to be more open.
Why is there a military edition?
If your love language is Physical Touch and your spouse is deployed 3,912 miles away, what are they going to do to help you feel loved? How are you going to get Quality Time when your spouse, on a good week, sends you two emails from the middle of the ocean?
Military couples have unique challenges in addition to all the normal challenges that couples face. The 5 Love Languages: Military Edition is written with those military and long distance challenges in mind. Every Love Language comes with suggestions on how to use your partner’s communication style, even during deployments.
Have you read The 5 Love Languages? Did it help you communicate with your partner?
Okay so you’re a BeachBody coach. We’ll get to that in a second. Let’s talk about your life as a military spouse. Can you tell us a little about what your husband does?
My husband was on a submarine for his first 5 years in the Navy as a torpedoman, currently we are on shore duty where he gets to build the torpedos he used to do maintenance on while aboard the sub.
Outside of work and spending time with the hubby, what do you love to do?
I LOVE being outside! Any activity where I can be in nature is right up my alley — hiking, kayaking, or even just laying on the beach with a good book. I also practice calligraphy which most people don’t know about LOL
What did you do for work before you tried coaching? How come that didn’t work out?
I was working in an office for a solid 10 years (age 15-25) and along the way had to get a second job as a server while going to college. I eventually had to quit those jobs to move to Arizona for nursing school which I ended up dropping out of so I could be closer to my (now) husband.
Then I got a job at the local Whole Foods in Hawaii, and while I wasn’t expecting it to be an amazing job to begin with, I was miserable there. I was never able to spend time with my husband on the rare occasion that he wasn’t out at sea and it just wasn’t worth it FOR US anymore. So that was the turning point where I took my part-time coaching gig into full-time and even though it was scary AF, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!!
How many times have you PCS’ed?
Just once! Moved from Hawaii to Virginia November 2016
And your BeachBody coach job moves with you because it’s on the internet! How long have you been coaching?
I’ve been a coach for 4 years now! And I’ve lived in 4 different states since I started.
What exactly is online “coaching”? Are you a trained fitness and nutrition expert?
I get this question A LOT and in the beginning all my friends thought I was becoming a personal trainer, which I find hilarious because that’s so opposite of my introverted personality! Taking on the role as a “coach” has nothing to do with your qualifications or being an expert or having six-pack abs. The workout programs and nutrition plans we use are all created by the fitness & nutrition pros, so we leave it to them.
My job is to share with others my victories & struggles along my personal fitness journey and show them that they can do it too. If someone is inspired by what I’m doing and they want in, I simply give them the tools I use to become successful and help them achieve their goals along way!
You completed 80 Day Obsession! Was it hell? Was it worth it?
Ok so here’s the deal. There’s no denying it was super intimidating at first, 80 days is a long freaking time to commit to a workout program. I have only successfully completed 30 days of a 60 day program prior to this, so I knew I had to mentally prepare myself.
The funny thing is though, I never once felt like quitting. Every day was a different workout so I wasn’t bored (which is usually my issue), my body had to keep guessing what was next. And I think that’s why I felt so refreshed throughout the entire program. But the best part about it was the timed-nutrition component. I still eat like this since completing the program 2 weeks ago! It can definitely be adopted as a lifestyle way of eating!
Okay I don’t know about you but the first time I heard about this all I could think is Pyramid Scheme. According to The Balance, here’s the difference between an MLM and a Pyramid Scheme:
“The big difference between multilevel marketing and a pyramid scheme is in the way the business operates. The entire purpose of a pyramid scheme is to get your money and then use you to recruit other suckers (ahem – distributors). The entire purpose of MLM is to move product.”
Is there anything you’d like to add for skeptics among us that your job is legit and not evil/illegal/a money pit?
First off, if it was illegal Beachbody would’ve been shut down YEARS ago but instead this company has been thriving for almost 20 years now AND is accredited by the Better Business Bureau as a great network marketing company. This isn’t the case for all MLM’s though because other companies run their business models a little different. And in pyramid schemes there’s only one person at the top, and they’re making all the money.
I personally have watched coaches in Beachbody surpass their own upline (the person they signed-up with) because there’s room for everyone at the “top” in this business model. And it’s truly where teamwork comes in because I can’t be successful if my coaches on my team aren’t successful.
Are there aspects of coaching that is hard to reconcile with a military spouse lifestyle?
I personally haven’t had any issues, this job makes everything easier to be honest. I have more time to spend with my husband when he’s home, I can travel to see family without requesting time off work, and I never have to worry about finding a job ever again just because we’re PCS-ing (which that alone takes out so much stress)!
You mentioned on Instagram that you gave yourself a 200% raise. Does that mean you were making pennies up until now?
It’s kind of a funny story. So I was getting things ready for my taxes and was calculating how much I made this year so far and to my surprise I had already made my 2017 income in the first 4 months of 2018! I was surprised because my work efforts haven’t really changed that much, I’ve just been CONSISTENT. And if you’ve ever heard of the Compound Effect, that’s exactly what took place. Consistent actions repeated over time will all of a sudden gain momentum and take off!
When I first moved in with my husband, I had no job and felt like a lazy bum because I wasn’t financially contributing. Even though he was totally ok with it, I have a hard time not earning my own money and having to rely on someone else to support me — which I’m sure a lot of military spouses feel! When we moved to VA, my husband took a significant pay-cut. Being able to contribute to our household, get us both out of student loan debt, and have some fun money on the side is the best feeling ever!
It sounds like your job has a lot of awesome personal rewards like working from anywhere at any time and the ability to scale your income with your effort and skill. What are the best ways your job lets you help OTHER people, too?
My favorite part about my job is getting to be apart of the transformation my clients & coaches go through into better versions of themselves. It’s really an incredible thing to witness them overcome their struggles and leading more fulfilling lives. And I’m not there to drill-sergeant them into working out and eating on a strict meal plan, I’m in the trenches with them to figure out how they can make this work in THEIR life.
What if coaching is too much work for me, can I just participate in the workouts and the groups?
Absolutely! I run a 3 week group once a month. If you need a community to support you on your health & fitness journey, come virtually hang out with us!
What do you think are the most important traits for other people who want to find success as a BeachBody coach?
What I always tell a new coach that’s starting out is to treat this like your fitness journey! Be consistent with your actions, even when you feel like it’s not working (this is where the Compound Effect comes in again!) or you “don’t feel like it” — do them anyway. Trust the process!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell a fellow military spouse who’s looking for a career that fits with our lifestyle?
For a long time I was told I needed a college degree. And while I think it’s a great accomplishment, I don’t think it’s your only choice. I was going to college to make my parents happy but didn’t really love any of the majors I thought I’d be interested in. I bounced around between schools a lot and realized it’s just not for me. Coaching was my dream job I never knew existed. So for the love, just do what lights your soul on fire!
“Never let schooling interfere with your education.” – Mark Twain
If someone’s got more questions about what you do, where should they reach out to you?
They can reach me through my blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This post uses affiliate links, meaning I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase anything through these links. Thank you for supporting My Sailor’s Defender.
These are the books that I’m itching to read, the ones I have to talk myself down from putting every single book in my shopping cart knowing I don’t have that kind of free time right now.
But I do want to make it a personal goal to read at least three of these military books before the end of the year to help broaden my perspective on military life.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure all of these are going to make me sob ugly tears
Review: It didn’t matter that I was coming up with creative ways to tell my sailor how much I loved and appreciated him. It didn’t matter that my sailor was doing my least favorite chore (dishes, ugh) every freaking night. We weren’t speaking each other’s love language … [Read More]
Like many military couples, Corie and her husband, Matt, an Army chaplain, accumulated significant unshared moments during Matt’s deployments. Matt lost friends and fellow soldiers to combat in Afghanistan. On the home front, Corie sat with bereaved military families and walked through dark days with new widows as a friend and professional counselor. When Matt returned, he and Corie began using the term “sacred spaces” for these and other significant moments they had experienced independently. After multiple deployments, sacred spaces were taking up a lot of emotional room in their relationship.
When US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter invited Corie, as the 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, to join his team on a one-week overseas holiday trip, she eagerly accepted, hoping to gain a better understanding of her husband’s deployment experience and lessen the impact sacred spaces had on her marriage. [Read More]
A Year of Absence follows the lives of six women whose husbands, all members of the U.S. Army’s First Armored Division based in Germany, deploy to Iraq in April 2003. A young lieutenant’s wife comes dangerously close to alcoholism. Marriages are pushed to the breaking point by the constant strain of fifteen months apart. Each morning the women anxiously scan the headlines, wondering if they still have a husband, if their children still have a father. Some form friendships that become their lifeline. Others somehow find courage despite their isolation. Through tearful goodbyes, long-awaited communication from the front, and joyful yet troubled reunions, A Year of Absence captures what life is like for many families of deployed soldiers: the ever-present fear of death, the pressures of single-parenthood, and the strength and comfort that come with the support of close friends. [Read More]
In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls… You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.
There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians’ speeches. [Read More]
Conversations are the heart of a gathering among friends. In Stories Around the Table, military spouses, parents, children, and service members gather together to laugh, cry, lend perspective, and share personal stories from their military life experience. From poignant to practical, tragic to humorous, these candid conversations shed heartfelt insight on many aspects of military life: friendship, depression, romance in military marriage, caring for children with special needs in a mobile lifestyle, renewing relationships after deployment, career challenges for spouses, changing schools, post-traumatic stress, faith, grief, and so much more. [Read More]
Less than 1% of our nation will ever serve in our armed forces, leaving many to wonder what life is really like for military families.
He answers the call of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Pacific; she keeps the home fires burning. Worlds apart, and in the face of indescribable grief, their relationship is pushed to the limits.
15 Years of War: How the Longest War in U.S. History Affected a Military Family in Love, Loss, and the Cost Of Service provides a unique he said/she said perspective on coping with war in modern-day America. It reveals a true account of how a dedicated Marine and his equally committed spouse faced unfathomable challenges and achieved triumph, from the days just before 9/11 through 15 years of training workups, deployments, and other separations.
This story of faith, love, and resilience offers insight into how a decade and a half of war has redefined what it means to be a military family. [Read More]
The widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle shares their private story: an unforgettable testament to the power of love and faith in the face of war and unimaginable loss—and a moving tribute to a man whose true heroism ran even deeper than the legend.
In early 2013, Taya Kyle and her husband, Chris, were the happiest they ever had been. Their decade-long marriage had survived years of war that took Chris, a U.S. Navy SEAL, away from Taya and their two children for agonizingly long stretches while he put his life on the line in many major battles of the Iraq War. After struggling to readjust to life out of the military, Chris had found new purpose in redirecting his lifelong dedication to service toward supporting veterans and their families. Their love had deepened, and their family was whole, finally.
Then, the unthinkable. On February 2, 2013, Chris and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed while attempting to help a troubled vet. The life Chris and Taya fought so hard to build was shattered. In an instant, Taya became a single parent of two. A widow. A young woman facing the rest of her life without the man she loved. [Read More]
What’s the best military book you’ve ever read? Leave it in the comments so I can add it to my person reading list!
Once you’re officially engaged, it’s time to start thinking about men’s wedding rings.
Have you already read plenty of articles on choosing a woman’s engagement ring? There are so many articles talking about how much money you should or shouldn’t spend on your girl’s ring. My fiancé and I had spent plenty of time looking at women’s engagement rings. Outside of a few Google searches, however, we had neglected to learn about men’s wedding rings.
It was common knowledge that men’s bands are often more simple and more affordable when compared to women’s engagement rings. I was aware there were some companies producing rings with non-traditional materials like wood or rubber. But that was the extent of my knowledge base on men’s rings. What was I even supposed to look for? What was he going to care about?
I knew my fiancé had put some serious effort into researching and choosing the perfect ring for me, so it was very important to pick something for him that was both meaningful and that he would love for the rest of our lives.
These are the three big things you should consider when it’s time to pick a ring for your sailor.
Consider Your Wedding Ring Style
In many cases, you might already have an engagement ring when you’re trying to pick out a men’s wedding ring. Make sure you factor in your ring’s unique style into your choice for his wedding band. After all, your rings are a physical reflection of your commitment, so it makes sense for them to share a common thread.
My ring has a sapphire instead of a diamond, and the pop of color is a huge focal point for my ring. When it came time to choose my sailor’s wedding band, I wanted to incorporate some of the style of my ring but I didn’t want to force him into sticking sapphires into his ring when sapphires were my thing, not his. Instead, I found a ring that would utilize some of the same metal – rose gold.
Consider His Style Outside of Jewelry or Fashion
What colors and materials does your sailor like already? If you asked him, my guy would swear the only color he loves is black. But I know he loves copper tones, very similar to rose gold, and now that we’re married, we have a growing collection of rose-gold and copper colored household goods.
When considering his style, it’s important to think about the things that bring him the most joy. My sailor loves being on the water (shocker, right?) as he grew up right on the gulf coast. Nature also plays a really important symbolic role in our relationship so it made sense to choose a ring with materials other than metal and rubber.
Consider Safety When Researching Men’s Wedding Rings
Regardless of the style preferences that you incorporate into your ring, make sure you don’t overlook safety. What does your sailor do for a living? Do they need to be really careful with conductive materials like metal rings? Many couples choose simple rubber rings for this reason.
Another thing to remember is that married recruits in boot camp may be allowed to keep a simple wedding band, but they may not want to subject their ring to boot camp sweat & grime.
My husband will work with electricity so he can’t wear a regular wedding ring while working. We decided that a ring which uniquely fit him and our relationship was the most important factor, and that a rubber ring didn’t suit us. Instead, he’ll get a small line tattoo around his ring finger so that even when he has to remove his real ring for safety purposes, he’ll still have something there.
Make Your Decision
In the end, I chose a men’s wedding ring that was handcrafted in Charlotte, NC from a small company called Rustic & Main. The ring itself has a center strip of teak from the WWII battleship USS North Carolina, which is surrounded by two thin rings of rose gold, and accented with elk antler. My husband was so impatient for it to arrive, but it was worth the wait!
This isn’t an affiliate post in any way, but I did reach out to Mike, the creator of Rustic & Main, asking him if we could get you guys a discount if you fall in love with their rings too. He graciously set up a 10% off coupon code for my readers who are looking for their sailor’s ring. You’ll get the discount if you follow any of my links to the Rustic & Main website, or by entering the code MYSAILORSDEFENDER at checkout.
The ring I ordered is no longer available at Rustic & Main, but you should definitely take a look at this Purple Heart wood ring. 5% of the proceeds is donated to The Independence Fund, a group that “empower[s] our severely wounded Veterans and their Caregivers to take control of their lives.”
What is the biggest factor in choosing your sailor’s ring? Leave your answer in the comments below.
Military spouses are resilient, problem solving, independent individuals who often have post-secondary degrees and work experience. Military spouses also suffer from unusually high levels of unemployment and underemployment compared to their civilian counterparts. Finding a military friendly career is essential to contributing income to your household and to continuing your career.
What is a military friendly career?
A military friendly career is, first and foremost, flexible and forgiving when it is time to PCS. That might mean they’re willing to let you work remotely or that they have lots of transfer opportunities at least nation-wide, if not globally.
Some workplaces even have support systems in place for military members, like offering special newsletters and going out of their way to contribute to charities and volunteer work that benefits military families.
Why do you need a military friendly career?
Having a military friendly career is the difference between unemployment and employment. It is the difference between going three months without a job and having to dip into that emergency fund, and being able to afford to replace or fix items damaged in your move across the country or across the world. A military friendly career is what is going to keep your career trajectory traveling upward instead of trying to fight just to get your foot in the door at the same level you were employed at before.
Okay, so how do I get one?
If you’re already employed and you haven’t PCS’ed with your employer yet, the best thing you can do is take the time to talk to them about it. Let your manager know you really value your role in the company, and assure them you aren’t going anywhere yet, but you want to be prepared when orders come.
Ask what your options will be when you have to move. Does your company exist all over like Starbucks or will you need to work remotely? If that position doesn’t already exist remotely, will they let you develop a pitch for starting it? Will they write you a glowing review if you do have to leave the company? It might be easier to get that positive review now than when your boss is stressed about hiring and training someone to replace you.
If you’re in the job search, you’re going to look for similar traits in your future employer. Do they pride themselves on supporting the military and veteran community? Does your base include them in hiring fairs? Yes, you’re gonna want to talk to your Military & Family Readiness Support on base about hiring fairs and prospective jobs! Pinterest is also filled with information on remote jobs, many of which are customer service based but not all.
Become a Military Spouse Entrepreneur
This is also going to be a great time to seriously consider starting your own business. Perks of running your own business include setting your own hours and choosing work that can move with you where-ever you go.
For many, this is the ultimate military friendly career because you’re in complete control. Military spouses already have their significant others’ health benefits, which is often a big concern when civilians consider starting a business. While not all businesses survive, there are tons of resources especially for military families on starting your own business.
Start Blogging for Money
Have you been dreaming about starting a blog for years? Or maybe you’ve tried it on-and-off with no success, like I had. I definitely recommend starting with this no-frills Free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp course. It’s created by an individual who runs multiple blogs in multiple niches for a living, unlike most courses that are based off of an individual with limited experience having only one successful blog in one niche. I loved BBC so much I invested in the actual club with courses and a community specifically for bloggers looking to make an income, which opens for registration several times a year.
Network Marketing or MLM Companies
There are lots of options for selling other companies’ products, called Multi-Level Marketing, where you’re essentially making connections online in hopes of meeting people who will fall in love with the same product you did. While it wasn’t my cup of tea, making genuine connections by helping people find products they love, all while creating a real income, is absolutely possible with MLM companies. Popular examples include Beachbody products and LipSense, but make sure you do your homework – not all MLM companies are created equal even when they’re legal.
More Online Ideas for Entrepreneurs
Social media manager
Content creator / freelance writer
I’ve even heard of spouses who use their skills to upcycle furniture they find at the thrift store and they resell it locally or online!
What other online businesses have you seen fellow milspouses starting? Tell me about it in the comments!
The Military Spouse 101 Workshop was the first time in this military journey that I was in company of other women my age who “got” it. A bunch of us had just been married during holiday stand down. Some were already married and had just arrived to the area with their sailors after boot camp. The comradery in the room was absolutely the highlight of the workshop. It was also the first time I realized as a newlywed I was focusing too much on couple time.
One of the most important interactions of the workshop happened when one of the speakers sat down at the conference table with us. While all the other speakers shared their information presentation-style, the Family Advocacy Intervention Specialist, Karen, was the one to slow down and just chat. She spoke a little bit about resiliency and stress as we all sat in silence listening.
Then she stopped and asked, “Any gamers?” I don’t think there was a woman at the table who didn’t immediately start to smile or nod their head or raise their hand. Of course our husbands loved video games! They’re huge dorks and we love them for it. That’s when the presentation turned into a constructive conversation among like-minded women. Karen spoke about the stress it can cause spouses when their service member turns to video games to relax after a long day instead of prioritizing couple time.
It was so validating to sit at a table filled with tons of other intelligent, awesome ladies, and hear that so many of them had also had that fight. The one where it felt like yet again he was choosing video games over us after we had already been apart all day. The one that boiled over unexpectedly because we were all trying to make ours needs small in order to be understanding of his stressors, but it just lead to a bigger fight.
Why a Happy Marriage Needs More Than Couple Time
I think some of the most applicable advice all of us received that day was that we needed to specifically carve out times in our schedules for three things.
Family Time, for those with children
All of us wanted to carve out time as a couple, but how many of us had actually considered setting aside time for ourselves? Specifically, to do something fun and relaxing? Sure, I knew I should do stuff just for me. I already spent plenty of time doing things alone. But most of the things I did alone were fulfilling needs; going to work, studying for school, and cooking for the both of us.
As a self-proclaimed workaholic and a giver, it’s so easy for me to push myself to give more. Work more, work two jobs, study more, take two classes while working two jobs, then realize that’s too much so I drop the second job just to fill all of my new “free” time with chores.
I can’t speak for any of the other spouses that day, but I already knew I was getting enough time with my new husband given our two intense schedules. I just couldn’t figure out why it didn’t feel like enough, and why he didn’t crave more, too.
Practice Breaking the Cycle
Fast forward four months later. We started fighting again about spending time together (but this time I wasn’t blaming the video games. Yay, baby steps!). So I took a look at my schedule. What was I doing every week? Still working full time, cool. On a break from school until classes start again, awesome. And spending 100% of my “free” time cooking, cleaning, trying to hang out with my husband (yet never satisfied with the time he gave me), and building my beloved blog.
These were all things I loved to do. Yet, not one of them was just for fun or just for me. The next day I went to work, I didn’t rush straight home to see him. Knowing he would actually be home since it was a weekend (huzzah, shift work!), I took my time. That’s right, I walked over to Sephora and tried on three different colors of purple lipstick. Anyone else obsessed with that shade of lilac this spring?
I got myself a new lipstick I had been wanting for months as a little treat. Then I took my time to get back home. It made all the difference in my day and in my interactions with my hubby to take time to relax and enjoy myself. Normally I would fight to switch straight from the hustle & bustle of work to holding expectations for our interactions. I had time to relax and consciously decide not to have expectations he couldn’t possibly anticipate.
Then we had a wonderful afternoon filled with gardening, shopping, and going out for dinner at a casual local restaurant. Was there a moment or two when we accidentally said the wrong thing, or someone tensed at a remark? Guilty. But coming at it from a place of relaxation and minimal expectations made the turn-around fast so we could continue our great day together filled with quality couple time instead of getting lost in an argument.
Okay, fess up! What’s the silliest thing you get in arguments about with your SO?
Maybe if you’re really lucky, you studied abroad for a couple months in college before getting thrown into this Navy life. Maybe you have family living in a foreign country that you visit annually. More likely, you’ve never lived anywhere but our beautiful USA.
As excited as you are to see other places, you have no idea what you’re doing to do with yourself when you’re completely alone in a country where you don’t know anyone and your spouse is deployed for months on end. If you’re terrified it’s going to be hard and scary and lonely, I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong. I’m here to tell you why that’s going to make you a stronger spouse and a stronger person.
I’m one of the lucky ones with some experience living abroad while going into this Navy life. I moved to Canada straight out of high school and lived there for nearly five years with no permanent ties to the country or any of the cities I lived.
“But Kate, Canada is basically just the US! They even speak English.”
Mhm, tell that to Immigration Canada. Or to Canadians. Most places you travel today, you can find someone who can speak English. That doesn’t mean they will – even in Canada. Be respectful of your host country if they’re not as excited to meet you. They’ve got strange tourists and temporary residents coming and going to this area all the time. The citizens have to live with the consequences of their actions culturally, financially, and environmentally – year after year.
1. You’re going to be a pro at navigating paperwork
The Navy is going to take care of a lot of the paperwork for you, you lucky duck! That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll have nothing to do. Remember when you thought getting married was as simple as signing a single piece of paper? Hah! Living in a foreign country comes with plenty of paperwork.
Thankfully, you have tons of resources on base to help you out. Use them! If you don’t know where to go, ask your spouse or the Family Readiness office to point you in the right direction. If you fall in love with the host country you’re stationed in, it may not be out of the question to move there post-Navy life or for retirement. Understanding the paperwork process is great practice for down the road if you’re dreaming of a little country villa outside of Marseille ( just me?).
2. You’re going to build a community from scratch
If you’re an introvert, you’d better start looking for community events and groups to get involved in ASAP. I don’t just mean with the other spouses on base, I mean really getting to know the regular ol’ people who’ve lived in the area since birth / college / a new job opportunity.
Are you prone to depression? Nothing is quite as isolating as living somewhere where the first language isn’t your own when your honey is nowhere to be found and you’ve got no friends and fam to fall back on. Make sure you have a game plan and talk to your doctor before you leave if you might need help adjusting.
This social isolation is also going to show you what a damn badass you are. Nothing feels quite as good as the moment it clicks. You have created your own little community, your own little family, no blood or previous ties required. You knew yourself well enough to know when to ask for help, and you knew when to call yourself out on BS and overcome your fears. Now all your favs are hanging out at your place and everything feels right. Hell yes!
3. You’re going to challenge your own preconceptions about your country and your life
When you first arrive, you’re going to notice little things every single day. The way food is packaged, what the food is, where you go to buy it, who it is that does the buying and the cooking. What about the road signs and the cars and the markings on the streets? The way the grass grows, how long the inhabitants or city allows it to get before everyone decides to cut it? There are so many little things you don’t notice about the norms in your hometown until you try living in a foreign country.
The longer you’re living in a foreign country and the more friends you make, you’re going to have more insights into a different thought process and a different way of life even if, at first, it seems like it’s basically just America with some different decorations. How are the politics here different? How do the citizens talk about politics differently? How does the government treat its teachers and what do the citizens here think about that? Do the people here work longer hours or shorter hours? Why? What challenges are the young people rallying about? What do those challenges look like back in the US?
4. You’re going to learn to be resourceful AF
Your sailor is deployed or on a work trip. You finally treat yourself to a night out and have a fantastic time, but when you want to get home, you realize
your car isn’t starting, or
the last bus of the night never came, or
you forgot your credit card, or
your phone died, or
choose your own adventure
What are you going to do?
I wonder, what would you have done back in your home town? Cried out of frustration as you called seven different friends or family members to come pick you up, and then sit on the curb while someone else solved your problem for you?
Your BFF and your mom can’t save you now. Hell, they’re probably in the middle of their work day back in the US or dead asleep.
No one is going to save you.
You’re going to learn how to save your damn self.
Walk for three hours, stop at a convenient store and borrow their phone to call a pal from the base, panhandle for your Uber or taxi ride home. Does the country you’re living in even have Uber?
It doesn’t matter. You’re going to figure it out.
At the end of the day, you will get home and it will be because of your own determination to do so.
What is one sticky situation you’ve gotten yourself out of before?
When my boyfriend left for boot camp, we had only ever known long distance dating. We had only spent five days together in person. Still, even being used to being physically apart, we spoke every single day for months. I didn’t know how I was going to handle the boot camp separation. I just knew it wasn’t optional and I’d get to see him on the other side. No matter how much you think you’re “used” to not having your best friend around, you probably aren’t used to being unable to communicate with them at all. Because we weren’t married, my recruit sent his things back to his family, not me. That meant I had to wait until he was allowed to send his first letter before I could hear from him.
I got his first letter 21 days later. It was longer before he heard from me.
Yeah, if you’re married, you’ll probably hear from your recruit sooner. You might get the phone call mine couldn’t make when he was sick with pneumonia after being in dirty close quarters with hundreds of other sweaty, sick recruits. You might not be at work when your recruit finally makes their “I’m a sailor!” phone call. But those are mere minutes out of two months.
So here’s the truth, pals: you’re in this one alone. You and your sailor individually have to get through these separations, just like during a real deployment. This is your welcome into military life as a couple. Because you have to rely on your own strength, I’ve got advice for you here and my sailor has advice for your recruit below.
Here’s how my sailor and I survived boot camp separation.
Dear Navy Recruit,
Remind Yourself Why You’re There
If you’re married, get a rubber ring. You can keep the real one, but it’s better to have something you aren’t afraid to get disgusting or damaged. A friend of mine had one and he said it helped remind him why he was there.
My girlfriend sent me photos of herself and screenshots of cute texts and everything else. I stayed up a lot of the time looking at those photos until I fell asleep just so I had something to see in the morning when I was being screamed out of bed.
Manage Letters from Home Before They Add to Stress
One you start receiving letters, you’ll need somewhere to keep them that won’t get you in trouble. Stash your letters under your drawer instead of inside of it. The drawers on the rack pull all the way out, meaning there’s space under that drawer for more things. Other recruits stashed extra skivvies in there. I stashed letters.
Take the time to write notes about your next letter after bed. That way you can send multiple letters on Sunday. [Note from Kate: One week I got four pages of letters and it was easily the best week for all of our separation! It also helped me the week my sailor didn’t have time to send any letters at all.]
Lean On Your Shipmates and Your Significant Other
Embrace the suck. Don’t be afraid to talk to a shipmate or cry. I had multiple days where I just had to relieve stress. There were days where I was so close to breaking that I had to distract myself by talking to a shipmate about my girlfriend. Sometimes I would just read her letters again and again, and even cry a little before bed. I’m not sure how your RDCs will be; mine were some of the most “thorough” in our ship.
There are going to be days where you question everything. Everyone in charge of you is going to tell you that the woman you love is probably getting with someone else right now, or that the first letter you’re going to get is going to be a “Dear John” letter.
You’ll hear everything under the sun to try and break you because at the end of the day that’s what they’re doing. They’re tearing everything apart in front of you so you realize what’s really important.
Don’t forget that the woman who loved you going in is probably having just as shitty of a day as you. She doesn’t have the benefit of time flying by because people are making her run until she can’t think or do any number of other tasks. She’s out there waiting for you.
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