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The Biggest Lesson I Learned in My Military-Wife Life – How to Cultivate Community (Part 1)


This post has four parts.  You can access Part 2, covering “starting small groups for married couples” here. You can access Part 3, “Let’s Talk about Hospitality” here. Finally, you can access Part 4, “Cultivating Bible Study Groups” here.

 

One skill you need as a military spouse is to learn how to cultivate community. You might wonder how you can create community? I believe creating community is the secret ingredient to moving from adjusting to THRIVING in each of your military installation locations.

 

In the military wife life, the group of people surrounding you is always changing because either you are moving or your people are.  Sometimes, it’s both! After spending a few moves lonely, I learned to “put myself out there” and took steps to speed up the adjustment to a new location by creating groups of “my people.”


I began asking people to go to coffee with me when I had just met them because I knew I needed friends. I only had one time when another military wife thought I was asking her out on a date instead of just looking for friendship (true story). But it ended up giving us something to laugh about and always remember how our friendship began.

 

If you have kids, offer to meet another mom at the park with her kids or invite her to bring her kids over to your house to play and visit. Due to my struggle with infertility, had to wait a long time for children and eventually adopted. During two assignments, I had to intentionally ask myself to do something with the other moms with kids so that I would have some friends. I’d just go over to their house to visit with them while they went about their normal routine with the kids. It ended up being a win-win situation. The other military wife got some much-needed adult conversation and I got some hands-on parenting lessons.


Early in our marriage, we moved (again) and were stationed in a small town that had little community or social meetups for the spouses. I noticed this and complained about it to my husband. He told me I should do something about it and helped me brainstorm how I could change that and welcome others while making friends myself. With the commander’s approval, I started welcoming spouses that moved to town with a short visit, a printed sheet of all my favorites about the area (restaurants, hair salon, veterinarian, dentist, etc.), and a dozen slice-and-bake cookies that I’d bake every other month and freeze in batches.

 

PLEASE avoid the loneliness and take my tips. It may seem hard at first, but trust me, it gets easier the more you extend yourself to others. Be the friend you want others to be to you. It always takes someone to make the first move. Start with a warm smile. Say hello. You can do it! Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, don’t you think you’d enjoy someone reaching out to you? Just go for it!

 

 

When you get orders to a new location, begin asking your network of military and non-military friends for connections in that new place. It can be helpful to locate the installation’s spouse’s social media pages and begin reading to gather information about the area and see if there looks to be other military spouses with similar interests, career desires, home states, or even kids your kid’s age(s). I connected with one of my best friends from Laughlin Air Force Base because she had kids my age and was also starting homeschooling. Not only were she and I best friends, but our kids were too. I reached out to her via private message, and we shared information we both had learned about the area and then agreed to meet for coffee once I showed up at the base. When we were about to meet, I had to look at her social media page to figure out what she looked like so that I could find her in the coffee shop.

 

Your installation will also offer spouse orientations or groups for spouses through the Family Support Center, Military Family Readiness Center, Fleet and Family Readiness Center, or Family Readiness Group (the name of the location differs for each branch of the military). Check herefor the contact information for the center at your installation location. These are such an amazing program – I highly recommend you go at each new base if your installation offers these classes.


I’d love to come speak to your group about being a supportive military wife and how to go from just surviving as a military wife, to thriving. Read more about my speaking topics.

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