Updated: Oct 15
How can you combat loneliness as a military spouse?
Loneliness is difficult, but did you know it harms your health? The U.S. Surgeon General reported a study that showed loneliness was as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and cognitive decline. As a military spouse of twenty-five years, with fourteen moves, I struggled with loneliness and learned to defeat it. During our first two assignments, I spent six months lonely and miserable until I learned these five tips to combat loneliness as a military spouse.
1) Prioritize finding or creating a strong support system. There is no substitute for person-to-person interaction. Consider these ideas for making new connections:
a. Your duty assignment has weekly activities for the base or post-wide and activities for your spouse’s unit. It may be awkward to go alone, so why not invite someone new to the base or a neighbor? Offer them a ride to go with you. Or, if you have been at your duty station for any length of time, please invite others to be your guest at functions. Your base/post has a Family Readiness Center or Group (also known as Family Support Center) that is planning activities. Check here for the contact information for the center at your installation location.
b. Find a meetup where you can meet people who share your interests. Check out this link to meetups all over the world.
c. Volunteer somewhere to make connections. In addition to meeting people, helping others can help improve your own mental health. Check out volunteer match for resources that can connect you with a need.
d. Consider getting involved with a bible study or moms’ or Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at your installation chapel or local area.
e. Attend a worship service in person and try to meet people sitting around you. Try to find a consistent worship service to be a part of so that you can form community.
To read more about trusting God with this difficult task, read this post.
2) Limit technology. Technology has worsened loneliness. One study found that people who use social media two or more hours a day were twice as likely to report feeling socially isolated than those on their devices for less than 30 minutes a day.
3) Go deep quickly by being vulnerable. Since you are a military spouse, you or those you need will likely be moving soon. So, you’ve got to make deep connections quickly. Pray about who you should consider becoming real with. Yes, it is a risk, but it is worth it.
4) Cultivate your spiritual life. Sometimes we can be tempted to believe that our faith in God is not enough to sustain us through periods of loneliness but let me encourage you that not only is it enough, but it is also your lifeline! Lean into the Lord in your despair and loneliness instead of leaning away from him. You might be magnifying the loneliness by focusing on the negative, isolating feelings over the joy of the Lord. The key to changing your feelings is to reject the drift to isolation with prayer and an awareness that lingering in your loneliness will only breed more separation. The enemy, Satan, loves to feed us lies when we are down. Recognize that he may be serving you lies that will feed the intensity of your isolation. Help replace the lies of Satan by feeding on truth in the Word of God. Consider turning on worship music to remind yourself of the presence of the Lord. This loneliness is a circumstance you might not choose, but God is good even when our circumstances are not. To read more about how God can bring beauty from ashes, check this post out. To read more about understanding God’s perspective, read this post. Pray for God to change your perspective, help you be bolder to create conections, and help you resist the drift to isolation. See this post for the ten best practical way to pray.
I'd love to speak to your group on coping with the military life. See this page for more information or to schedule me to speak to your group (live or virtually).
5) Consider whether you are showing signs of being closed off. Being willing to take the effort to cultivate friendships and be the one who initiates relationships with others. Take the risk - put yourself out there. I made life-long friends at each duty station, but learned that I had to initiate these friendships, stopped feeling sorry for myself, and took the lead in forming authentic relationships. If you are still struggling with being closed off, consider counseling. I found counseling to be part of keeping myself and my family healthy during the challenges of military life. The Military Family Life Counseling program (MFLC) maintains a presence at every US military installation and offers completely confidential counseling with no record keeping. If your mental health issue is more challenging, the MFLC can refer you to qualified professionals who can help. Military One Source also offers counseling services.
How else do you combat loneliness as a military spouse?