Being a military spouse is like being in a super secret club: there are rules (written and unwritten), social rankings, balls to attend, and that feeling of "what the hell did I get myself into!" When we marry our military service members, whether it's right before boot camp, in their early service years, or after they take their first command, it can be very confusing and lonely when we first embark on our military spouse "career."
Of course there are many books that new wives can - and should - read. One that I recommend is "Service Etiquette" by Oretha D. Swartz. It has so much information on the situations we find ourselves in. From how to address envelopes to servicemembers (wedding invitations, anyone?), to introducing servicemembers to civilians, what civilian dress equivalents are, and so much more. I find my pulling it out more than I ever thought I would.
In the 20 years that I have been with my active duty husband, there has been an incredible change in the role of Spouse Groups, CO Spouses, and FRGs. Back in the day, when my husband checked aboard a new ship, I would be contacted by the Ombudsman, the president of the FRG, and depending on his rank at the time, the Captain's wife. Boy, have things changed! And, in my opinion, not for the better! We have had commands where pregnant wives due while the ship is deployed are not even checked on by the Ombudsman. Commands where there is no support for the wardroom spouses - except what we are able to cobble together ourselves, and zero comradery between spouses. It's a shame.
Fortunately, Facebook has provided a new outlet and media for spouses to get the support they so desperately need. Here are some Facebook groups that I have found to be really helpful. Just do a Facebook search for these groups if you are interested in joining:
- Navy Spouses of Hampton Roads - not rank specific, support for all military spouses in Hampton Roads. This is a closed group, so your membership will have to be confirmed. The great thing about this group is that you can ask about anything! It doesn't even have to be military specific.
- Sexually Deprived for Your Freedom - clearly, this group does have some adult content. However, it is another great group that provides support for all spouses. It's a super place to ask your questions about anything you have concerns about.
- Navy Officer Spouses Club - a closed group for Officer spouses. Very friendly, knowledgeable group - always ready to answer questions and give their two cents.
- Military Special Needs Network - FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an executive board member for this group. Our group is focused towards EFM families: helping everyone, regardless of branch, navigate the EFM/ECHO programs, sharing stories about our EFM dependents, supporting friends during the rough times, and uplifting families through education, inspiration, peer-2-peer support, empowering families to be the best advocates they can be for their special needs depenendents, and uniting families across branches and across the world.
If you are looking for military spouse friends - folks who know exactly what you are going through, and who have been where you are - hop on Facebook and join some of these groups. I guarantee you will make connections and friends that last even though duty stations change.