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    Seven Years Ago, I Married Into The Military — Here's Everything I Wish I'd Known Sooner

    I'm the first in my family to marry into the military, and to be honest, there was a lot I wasn't prepared for.

    Hi there! I’m Raylyn. Along with being a mom to two young kids and a longtime teacher, I'm also a military spouse to my husband of seven years. We met about halfway through his Coast Guard career and are now at our third station together. Military life has been quite a journey — and not one that I could have predicted I would be a part of when I was younger.

    I'm the first in my family to marry into the military, and to be honest, there was a lot I wasn't prepared for. It's a very specific lifestyle — equal parts impossibly demanding and deeply rewarding.

    A docked coast guard ship

    My friends outside of the service often look at my life and go, “I have no idea how you do it.” And they're right — it’s a difficult* life to choose. But I also feel like it's an often-misunderstood one. It's easy to look at solider-coming-home videos and feel a sense of connection, but there's still a lot of misunderstanding out there about military life. By writing this, I'm hoping to peel back the veil to reveal some of the aspects of military family life that don’t get talked about as much.

    A couple embracing

    All that said, let's get to it. Attention!

    1. Let's start with the obvious: You have to move constantly — sometimes with zero notice — and someone else is in charge of calling those shots.

    2. You find yourself taking risks that may seem absurd to others simply out of necessity — and the 'expectations vs. reality' of it all is a constant struggle.

    3. Beyond the housing game-of-chance, you're met with more extreme uncertainty once you arrive in a new place.

    A military member talking to her spouse

    4. Even if you find a place you love, you may start feeling restless after a few years.

    5. You find yourself saying “OK” a lot — because there is very little choice or control you actually have.

    6. Often, it’s your career that gets put on the back burner.

    7. Your spouse doing the job that they have trained for can often mean you worrying if they will come home.

    Soldier surprises woman

    8. Making friends is really, really hard.

    9. Your kids may need a lot of community support, but it’s often not there.

    Girl cries as military father leaves

    10. You get experiences no one outside of the military will ever get, and it’s amazing.

    Onlookers watching a helicopter display

    11. The camaraderie on bases is incredibly special.

    12. Sometimes it’s a tough life — but the bonds, the experiences, and the challenges are frequent and worth it.

    13. The life of a military spouse or partner might be difficult, but controlling what we can allows for plenty of joy.

    Soldier and wife embrace

    While we have many limiting factors in our lives, military spouses are masters at controlling what we can. We may have a giant cloud of military life that can feel isolating and hard, but I work to make sure our lives look and feel "normal," so that the stress of military life isn't the defining feature of our lives.

    A kid at a playground

    Being a military spouse is so hard to describe to those who haven't experienced it. The uncertainty of life coupled with the certainty of dramatic change and the need to be strong to support your family means most of us quietly work behind the scenes supporting our loved ones. If you are a military spouse or partner, let me tell you: You rock! I’d also tell you to take some “you” time — and then we could just laugh, commiserate, and connect.

    A military servicewoman kissing her baby on the forehead

    If you know a military spouse, offer some encouragement and support! We could all use a little extra kindness. And if you have a similar story to share, I'd love to hear about in the comments. ❤️