May 10, 2021

How To Survive Military Life as a Significant Other

Salt Lake City, UT, USA


Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation. ~Mahatma Gandhi

When you and your significant other make the decision to join the military there is a lot of behind the scene decisions that others looking from the outside in aren't aware of. Most people think of the military as easy, the president is in charge of you, you make a lot of money, lots of deployments, marrying young, multiple kids, and PCSing to the most amazing destinations. While some of these things might be true, there is a lot more to unpack. So today's blog post is about how to survive military life as a MILSO. 

Before we became an official military family I got to live the lifestyle through my mom. My dad went through multiple deployments and I was lucky enough to live close to my mom during those times and get to drop everything and be there for her when needed. Deployments teach spouses to be independent. To be strong, to learn things they never knew they would need to, to be smart with money, and to really be okay with being "by yourself" for multiple months out of the year. My husband went to basic and tech school while I was pregnant and just barely made it before our baby was born so I've lived through the experiences I'm sharing today. 

How To Survive Military Life as a Significant Other

1. Learn the acronyms

Aka all the "military lingo" If there is one funny thing I have learned from this military life is that Military officials love using acronyms for literally EVERYTHING. Each branch has its own specific abbreviation that you will have to learn. For us, the Air Force acronyms were what we needed to learn (Such as AFB "Air Force Base") There are also abbreviations that all branches use which is what I'm going to list down below:

MILSO: Military Significant Other
PCS: Permanent Change of Station
BAH: Basic Allowance for Housing
ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
BAS: Basic Allowance for Subsistence
DITY: Do-it-yourself (move)
DEERS: Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
DFAS: Defense Finance and Accounting Service
BX & PX: Base Exchange & Post Exchange (tax-free stores inside the military base)

For more acronyms, you can go to the military benefits website for a huge list. Knowing these abbreviations will help you communicate with different departments within your military branch and commanders and such (especially if your significant other is deployed). 

2. Find yourself a new hobby

When it comes to being a MILSO, as we previously explained, life can get a little lonely. Your spouse might be deployed for 90 days to a couple of years at a time. Or it could just be the long hours that your spouse is working at their base and you only really get to spend quality time with them during the weekend. Finding something that you are passionate about is going to keep you sane. Some people have always been "creative" since they were born. While others have to really dig deep and see what hobbies they could try and be passionate about. Me for example, I enjoy baking, blogging, thrifting, organizing, crafting, and doing research ( I know that this is a random hobby but I truly enjoy researching different topics my favorite being: Nutrition)

So next time your spouse is gone for a little while finding something that you have been wanting to try and giving it a go should be on top of your list! Here are a few ideas for you to add to your list: 

  • Blogging/Youtuber (so many possibilities here)
  • Social Media Influencer (same for this one, you can be a fashion or fitness influencer)
  • Crocheting
  • Learn how to play an instrument
  • Start an Etsy Store
  • Deep Clean your entire home and sell things on eBay
  • Learn how to cook
  • Learn how to bake
  • Learn a new language
  • Learn how to dance
  • Learn how to play a sport
  • Go on a thrifting adventure
  • Take a class on Skillshare
  • Learn a new workout routine
  • Take a photography class
  • Make a list of books to read for the year and complete it
  • Start a small business from your home
  • Explore your town 

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~Kahil Gibran

3. Keep a Journal

A journal is a place to clear your mind. To write down what’s clouding your thoughts and keeping you up at night. To help with conflict resolution and to give you solutions. It also helps with memories for years to come. There has been plenty of research on how journaling helps those with anxiety and depression. It helps people write down things that they might not want to say or someone face to face. One study specifically mentioned how older adults with ongoing medical conditions and anxiety found that journaling helped to decrease their mental stress load and increase their overall well-being. Just like one of my favorite songs, a journal is thinking aloud. It makes you more self-aware. It helps to fight your inner demons. To face your fears! (taken from my blog post on why you should keep a journal in 2021).

Keeping a journal while your significant other is also a great idea to look back at how you were feeling while they were gone and what memories you might have made. 

4. Make Traditions

Keeping traditions is one of our favorite things to do as a military family! There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest that you can find and create your own version for your family. Here in the Bertelli household, we love to spend time at home, making food, playing board games, watching movies, or going for adventures in our town. Here is a list of ideas for traditions:

  • Create a "bucket list" and complete it as a family
  • take a picture as a family in every new location you PCS to then save it as a digital scrapbook
  • buy a few of your favorite board games and have a game night with treats every week (or however many times a month you would like)
  • volunteer for a great cause as a family
  • create holiday traditions, whether it be for Christmas, Halloween, or the 4th of July, create some fun traditions that go with those holidays. 

5. Family Support

Having family there for you during the most difficult times of your deployment will make such a difference! There a few memories that come to mind when it comes to my family. My dad was deployed one year and my mom called me late a night saying that she was not feeling good and that I need to take her to the doctors. I dropped everything and drove 45 minutes to her house to help her out... My mama has always been there for me throughout the many stages of my life so I have to be there for her as much as I can. The same goes for when I was pregnant last year and my husband was gone for tech school. I had to get IVs quite often and luckily my brother-in-law lives next to me and was able to take me to the emergency room so I could feel better. 

So yes, family support is so so important! There are times that you might be PCSing to a different state and far away from family but I cannot express this enough: communicate and keep in touch with your family members! It will help with your insanity as well. 

God chose the strongest, the bravest, and the most courageous… and He made them military spouses.

There you have it, if you have found this information useful I encourage you to share it with others or even pin it on your Pinterest for future reference. You can follow some of my military-related Pinterest boards for more ideas.