Christine grew up a military brat calling six different bases home. She was a senior in high school at the base in Adak, AK where she met her future husband, Tony, who was in his thrid year of active duty. Fast forward to today, and Christine and Tony have now been married for 26 years – during all of which Tony has served in the United States Navy. Together, they have called three bases “home:” Newport, RI, Rota, Spain, and Dam Neck, VA. They have been through numerous deployments and even been separated during two to three year assignments. All of these experiences have taught Christine lessons not only how to be a great military spouse but moreover, how to be a better spouse in general.
Advice on Bases
“Adak, AK – This is where we met. I was a senior in HS and he was in his 3rd year of active duty. Sadly, this base closed down in the early 90s. It was definitely a unique experience living here…no trees, no traffic lights, long winters (sunrise at 1000 and sunset at 1500), a 4-hour flight to the nearest mall!
San Diego, CA – Beautiful city! This is where we started dating; so much to do within driving distance; beautiful weather and great food. The base exchange is HUGE! It is a military town, but everything is so spread out. You must have a car to get from place to place. One of my favorite places to live.
Newport, RI – I absolutely loved living here; great place to raise children although the winters are long; lots of fun places to see in New England, fall season is the best! There is a military clinic, but the nearest hospital is Newport Hospital. Boston is less than an hour away.
Rota, Spain – I LOVED living overseas!!! Spending time away from “home” allowed us to closely bond with other military families. We took every opportunity to travel to other countries and cherished every experience we had. It was truly amazing! We sent our son to Spanish school and immersed ourselves in the language and culture. Take advantage of the military space-A flights when traveling from one military base to another (i.e. Rota, Spain to Naples, Italy) – it’s practically FREE! Make sure to have your passport with you at all times. Mingle with the locals and spend your weekends exploring your surroundings. There are limited jobs available for military spouses; a great time to look for volunteer opportunities and take advantage of the down-time to be that “supportive spouse”.
Dam Neck, VA – Nothing’s better than a duty station that is “home”; it makes such a difference to be stationed where your family is. Although I’m not originally from Virginia Beach, I call this home because my dad retired and settled our family here over 20 years ago. I moved here after being away for over 13 years. The thing about living in a military town is that you have access to all your military needs in close proximation; however, military spouses in a larger city have a harder time connecting. Most often, unless they connect with their sponsor’s co-workers and attend their sponsor’s events, it is more difficult to form friendships compared to within a military community overseas or in a smaller town or isolated city. This is the time to connect with the command’s ombudsman, especially if the spouse deploys on an assignment.”
Advice on Finding Jobs
“USAjobs.gov is the place to go for finding a government job. I highly recommend that you upload a resume on this site and keep it current; military spouses have priority when it comes to job searching within the area of the spouse’s new assignment. If you are overseas, make sure to volunteer so that you will be the first to know of any jobs that come up. Also, take advantage of the Fleet and Family Center (Navy) to get advice on resume building, job searching, and financial assistance.”
Advice on Being Separated
“My husband is currently a “geo-bachelor”, which means he is assigned to a location without the family. This is his 2nd tour as a geo-bachelor. His first assignment was in Yokosuka, Japan for 2 years, and he is currently stationed in Charleston, SC for a total of 3 years. Although these assignments are not deployments, it separates us from each other and feels like a deployment. It was a choice we both made based on our new home purchase, our son’s age in school, and our choice to call Virginia Beach home.
COMMUNICATE!!! Before he took the assignment in Japan, we both agreed that we were going to see each other at least every 3-4 months. We made it work; however, it was NOT easy when he left us for the first time. Thank goodness for Skype, Facetime, and email. It is a blessing to be surrounded with family during a deployment because it can be very lonely. You have to remember that your military spouse is also very lonely, so make every effort to let them know you are thinking about them; send snail mail, care packages, pictures, etc.
Also, allow time upon the return from a deployment to get settled; don’t assume you can pick up where you left off. Your military spouse is ready to come home to the comfort of his own home and belongings; he/she wants to feel loved and welcomed. Don’t expect chores to be divided right away because that’s going to cause arguments and misunderstandings. Communicate your feelings about what it was like to be apart and your expectations about what to look forward to in the future. Make sure to communicate clearly what your nonverbal cues are saying. Don’t ever assume that your partner knows what you are thinking. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!!!
Also, be okay with letting each other have space once in a while, and allow each other to spend time with other friends/family. Don’t be too restrictive or overbearing with each other. It’s good for each of you to have an outlet that doesn’t necessarily involve being together all the time. As long as you communicate with each other, you are establishing and building trust.”
Favorite Part about Being a Military Spouse
“I loved having the opportunity to travel. I have pockets of friends in various places that I lived. I like being well-rounded and have learned to adapt easy to change.”
Most Important Relationship Lessons
“1). It’s okay to agree to disagree. You will never change your partner. The joy of a marriage is discovering what compromises you come up with that makes things work.
2). Keep the passion alive. Once you are married for a while, the relationship can lose its spice. Make sure to take time out for romance and remember the initial desires you had for each other. Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to try new things together.
3). You are the backbone to your military spouse. Be supportive and recognize the responsibilities that your spouse has accepted for our country. Allow them to do their job without complaining, nagging, or making them feel guilty that they have no time for you. They made a commitment to serve our country, and they can only be successful in their job if they have your full support. Be flexible and always present when they need you most.
4). Take advantage of your military benefits. We are very lucky to have the military advantage – retail discounts, space-A travel, military accommodations, entertainment discounts, etc. Network and share your knowledge with other military spouses; be a mentor to someone else. Military spouses have a lot of support to offer each other.
5). Have faith. Pray together, trust each other, keep God in your presence, and always try to find happiness together. Believe that you were united in good faith and destined to be together for a lifetime; set a good example to your children and be role models for others.”
Thank you for your service, Tony, and thank YOU Christine for yours!