How can YOU help a new military spouse?
Being a newlywed can be exciting, overwhelming, and a bit scary. And adding the fact that your new spouse is in the military adds even more stressers, uncertainties, and adventures. Think back to when you were a brand new military spouse. It may have been last year, or last decade. Think about how you felt, what you thought about, and what you did (or didn’t do).
What advice do you have to give someone who may be stepping into this military life for the first time?
Be friendly and inclusive. Remember, you were a new military spouse once. Do you remember how overwhelming it was (and still might be)?
Call, friend on Facebook, send a text message, or do a quick stop by their house with a bottle of wine to say hello. I read on MilitarySpouse.com that “wine is the universal gift of military spouses”.
Help out with learning the area. Provide suggestions of your favorite places, and find out her (or his!) interests to provide guidance on where to go based on that information.
Invite her (or him!) to outings, and include her in spouse group meetings. Offer to meet up at her first spouse group meeting so that she doesn’t have to arrive alone.
It’s never easy to be the newest spouse
I’ll never forget my first spouse group meeting. This was before phones had gps, and you either relied on a real live map, or Mapquest. I showed up late because I got lost, and then I sat in my car for about 10 minutes before I actually walked in alone. I didn’t know a soul. I had talked to a few people on the phone prior to arriving, so I at least had a few names I could look for on the name tags (thank goodness for name tags!), but I hadn’t felt like the new kid in so long, I had forgotten what it was like. Thankfully, I’m not terribly shy and I’m able to walk up to strangers and strike up a conversation. (That doesn’t mean it isn’t a tad scary, though!).
Having a recognizable friendly face would have definitely made the situation easier on me.
When I was no longer the “new kid”, I would offer to pick up new military spouses and bring them with me to the spouse meetings so that they had someone that they knew at the meeting. With some of them I became fast friends. Some, I’m no longer in contact with. However, for that short moment in time, I (hopefully) provided them comfort as their buddy to their first meeting.
Even if you don’t become close friends, simply be a friendly face that she can recognize around town or at functions. Introduce her (or him!) to other military spouses that would have similar interests and common ground.
Resources to share with a new military spouse
I would also suggest providing an introduction to Military Spouse Advocacy Network’s New Military Spouse Support Program. This program pairs new military spouses with an online mentor: someone they can connect with and ask questions.
If he/she is looking for work, or wanting to start a business, or not sure where to go, there are several fantastic organizations available. These organizations are fantastic and have several chapters.
- For Professional networking: In Gear Career
- For Entrepreneurs: The MilSpo Project
- For Health and Wellness: In-Dependent
Don’t be too pushy, but don’t give up. Being a new military spouse can be very intimidating, and it may take a bit of persistence. Kindness and inclusion, even if someone declines, won’t be forgotten. I have declined several invitations over the years for various reasons, however I have always appreciated the invitation.
Military spouses have a fantastic network available to us all, no matter where we are or who we are. It’s important to remember and utilize that incredible network, which in my opinion, is the most valuable resource that a new military spouse has. Open the door to your established network to a new military spouse. She (or he!) will be able to build on that network and create their own in time, to be able to support future new military spouses.