Elyse is a Marine Corp spouse and has been married to her other half, Chris for a year and a half. They have called two bases home: Naval Air Station Pensacola/Naval Air Station Whiting and FieldNaval Air Station Corpus Christi. Her husband is currently in flight school and they are expecting a baby boy in a few weeks! Elyse has embraced each base and every unique thing each has to offer and she has enjoyed the flexibility of nannying and volunteering in her own time. She loves being able to experience new places and her best advice to other spouses to be flexible in your marriage.
Advice on Bases
All of the bases we have been at have been on the water- take advantage of the cheap/free things to do on base or through the MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation)! We took a sailing class in Pensacola & did a lot of kayaking and paddle boarding (only $5 an hour).
NAS Pensacola has a lot of history- there is the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse, and Fort Barancas. You can also watch the Blue Angels practice on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We loved going out to the beach on Fort Pickens National Seashore and seeing the Blue Angels practice while we floated in the water- one of my all time favorite things about Pensacola!
We just moved to NAS Corpus Christi about a month ago, and we live on base here. So far we are really enjoying the base housing & being a part of a tight-knit community.
My biggest piece of advice is to take advantage of the unique things each base has to offer! Getting to go places I have never been to before is one of my favorite things about being a military spouse. Branch out from chain restaurants and try the foods that make each place unique! In Pensacola we got to experience Cajun cooking, king cakes for Mardi Gras, and fresh seafood. In Corpus Christi we have fallen in love with breakfast tacos! Do the tourist-y things each place has to offer, but also ask locals about their favorite hole-in-the-walls. Even if it is not your favorite base, there is always something that makes it unique and special from any other place you have been.
I was a nanny for a year in Pensacola (when we got there I we were not sure how long we would be there. My husband was in Pensacola for flight school, and training can take you to a number of different bases). Nannying was a great job for our situation because it was flexible and allowed me to take time off when my husband was able to take leave (in flight school, taking leave during training was difficult, so down time between trainings was our only time to travel). I found my nanny job on care.com, which I would recommend to anyone wanting to nanny!
I am currently not working in Corpus Christi- I am expecting our baby boy in ten weeks, and we will only be here for a total of about 6 months, so finding a job was not really in the cards for me here. Since I am not working in Corpus Christi, I am able to spend more time volunteering (things like the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society on base or local organizations like the Boys & Girls Club are great places to start!)
Join spouse Facebook pages for your base/squadron. Other wives are always posting about job openings they know of, jobs they are leaving and will need to be filled, etc.
Also, don’t be afraid to show yourself grace! If you are like me, it is easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself to find the perfect job right away. Moving is a big change, and finding a job can be difficult, especially when you are only in one place for a matter of months. Before moving to Pensacola, I had big ambitions in my mind about the type of job I was going to find. As much as I enjoyed nannying, it did not do anything to build my professional résumé. And it can be easy to compare your “career” with friends from college who have already been in the same job for 5 years. Know that your value is not in what you are doing, but in who are becoming. Even if your job is not your dream job at this training or duty station, use that time to build your character. Our jobs do not define who we are.
Since we have yet to experience a deployment, I don’t have any advice. For Marines, between the Basic School and flight school, it can be 2-3 years before you are a part of the fleet and are deployable.
We have heard a lot of great advice from friends and mentors who are a few steps ahead of us. Some of the best advice I have heard from other wives is to set personal goals for yourself while your husband is gone. Have you always wanted to run a marathon? Do it now! Give yourself something to keep you motivated!
One friend also shared that she and her husband would label emails according to their content. “Business.” Or “Personal.” Etc. That way, when she opened an email that contained nothing but info on updating their insurance policy, she wasn’t disappointed when the email wasn’t personal and full of love. She knew already to expect the email to be about business.
Favorite Part about Being a Military Spouse/Significant Other
Like I said before, getting to experience new places is definitely one of the best parts of the military life! Other than the food and the culture of each place, moving around means meeting a lot of new people. I tell my civilian friends that military friendships are kind of like college friendships- you become super close super fast! We are all far away from home, family, and other friends. We don’t always get to go home for holidays and family vacation. But we do have each other. Your military family becomes family to you! & as hard as it is to leave those friends when you PCS, there are always new friends to be made!
When Chris and I got married in VA, he had already been living in Pensacola for flight school, so the morning after our wedding, we packed up the car and started the drive to Florida. It was a little bitter-sweet. As if getting married wasn’t a big enough change. But spending the first years of our marriage away from “home” has been one of the greatest blessings! If we needed help with something, we couldn’t call up a family member to lend us a hand. We couldn’t just ride the coattails of our families’ Christmas traditions. We learned to depend on each other. We started our own traditions; our own way of doing things. As much as we miss “home,” I would not trade these years away with just each other for anything!
Most Important Lessons You Have Learned Throughout Your Relationship
The most important thing I have learned is to be flexible! Everyone’s experience as a military spouse is so different, but in flight school, my husband would not know his next day’s schedule until around 5pm the night before. Which meant that planning more then 24 hours in advance was not ever an option (the few times I did try to plan ahead, I ended up having to change those plans a million times). Chris spent hours outside of flying at home studying. And was physically exhausted from flying and wanted to sleep. I on the other hand, had missed him, and would crave time with him. It’s hard not to be selfish sometimes. But try to understand what your husband is going through. His workday is not a normal 9-5 work day. Flight school means not getting to leave work at work. Show him grace. Support him however you can, even if its by doing his laundry, cooking & cleaning, and taking care of the yard work so he doesn’t have to on his one day off. Be flexible- if he happens to get scheduled to brief at 5am the next morning, don’t get upset when you have to cancel that evening’s plans.
In any marriage, a husband and a wife should be seeking to serve one another and to constantly put the other’s needs ahead of their own. In a military marriage, the ways we are able to serve each other may look a little different. We may not have as much time to spend together during certain points in our marriage, but there are always practical ways to show your spouse that you love and care about them (like not getting mad at them when they have to cancel or change plans on you).
Thank you for your service Chris, and thank YOU for yours Elyse!