I’ve known some amazing military wives, and many service members themselves will tell you that military wives are the silent heroes, holding down the home-front while their husband is overseas!
We all know the standard benefits of being a military wife—Tricare, married to someone who looks amazing in a dress uniform, and knowing that your husband has a steady income and housing will always be taken of with BAH.
But what about some of the other perks that are maybe less discussed? Or the flaws that you often don’t hear about? Thanks to my friends, I’ve come up with a detailed list that will tell you all the amazing benefits of being a military wife as well as some downsides you should be prepared for.
10 Military Wife Benefits
1. Opportunities to Travel
Throughout your husband’s time in the military, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel. Depending on the deployment, you may be able to visit them overseas during a holiday like 4th of July for example.
If you’re stationed overseas, you’ll not only have the opportunity to experience living in a different country but also opportunities to travel to other countries while you’re over there.
For example, my best friend and her husband were stationed in Rota, Spain, and they went to Gibraltar for a day trip. Similarly, another military wife I know was stationed in Korea, and she took the opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China since it was quite easier to fly from Korea to China than the United States to China.
Finally, you’ll get to live in a variety of places in the United States and see different parts of the country. Unlike most civilians, you’ll probably have visited most of the states by the time your husband gets out. And don’t forget about Space A travel, which makes it cheap to fly overseas if you have a flexible schedule.
2. Wide Community of Friends
As a military wife, you’ll learn to make friends quickly and make friends everywhere. Each base that you and your husband are stationed at will give you the opportunity to make new friends.
Although it will be hard to leave those friends when you PCS, you’ll end up with friends all over the United States and the world. Because you’ll likely have become very close with these women since they all understand military life and are in a situation similar to you, you’ll probably keep these friends for life. This means that whenever you want to travel to Germany, for example, you just have to figure out what friend is stationed there, and you’ll already have a place to stay!
3. Unique Experiences For You (and Your Kids)
Especially if you’re an adventurous person, you’ll have a great time as a military wife (and mom). You’ll get to do many things civilians don’t get to do. If you’re stationed overseas (or even when your husband is deployed), you’ll learn about other countries.
You’ll get to put together care packages and learn about military history. And you’ll get to do something every woman wishes she could do—go to a military ball. Once a year, you’ll have an excuse to wear that floor-length gown, get your hair, nails, and makeup done, and have an amazing night with your husband.
4. Activities At Your Fingertips
You won’t be at a loss of what to do as a military life. There is always stuff to do on base, and with the MWR (or equivalent), you’ll have plenty of opportunities for reasonably priced travel. You’ll also get discounts to pretty much every place imaginable as a military spouse.
One of the best ones is Disney. My second mom and dad are retired military, and I’ve gone with them twice to Disney where they can purchase a 4-day park hopper once a year for the price of a 2-day pass with their IDs (and that’s for up to 6 people!).
5. Cheap Groceries
I personally am a little obsessed about getting the best deal possible for groceries, but you’ll get great prices on groceries with the commissary. You won’t have to pay any tax plus the price of meat is way cheaper than anything you’ll see out in town.
Similarly, you can find anything that you’ll need like shoes, clothing, electronics, and so forth at the PX (or equivalent), and you won’t have to pay any tax on what you buy.
Depending on the base you’re at, this could be a huge boon. For example, the Nex at the Norfolk Naval Base is enormous. It’s basically a small mall.
6. Educational Opportunities
Depending on your educational pursuits, you might really make out as a military spouse.
If you don’t have a degree already, you’ll be able to use your husband’s G.I. Bill after a certain number of years.
If your husband hasn’t yet reached that number, you’ll be eligible for thousands of scholarships.
Pretty much every college will give you a discount for being a military spouse.
Liberty University has one of the biggest discounts for service members and their spouses, and they have a plethora of online programs, meaning you could work toward your degree stationed anywhere!
If you have kids, they will also benefit from the wide variety of scholarships and essay contests available to them as military kids. This is definitely something you want to take full advantage of!
Plus, military kids get in-state tuition in two different states (and potentially up to three): the state where you and your husband are currently stationed as well as your home state. This means that if your home state is Nebraska, and you’re stationed in North Carolina, your kids will get in-state tuition for both those states.
And if you PCS while you have a kid in college, that child will still be eligible for in-state tuition in the two states as well as a third, the one you’re moving to. Going back to the previous example, that means that if you PCS from North Carolina to Virginia, your child has in-state tuition in Nebraska, North Carolina, and Virginia.
7. Hiring Preference
As a military spouse, you’ll have a hiring preference for government jobs. That means you’ll get first dibs on government jobs if you’re a qualified candidate, making it easier when you are PCSing.
Some civilian companies will even give a hiring preference to military wives because they know how challenging it can be sometimes to find employment as a spouse. Don’t be afraid to ask when you’re applying for a job if you’ll get a hiring preference as a military spouse.
8. Tidy House
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my female civilian friends complain about how messy their husbands are and how they are always picking up after them, but I have never heard that from a military wife.
Thanks to years of people screaming in your husband’s face to make sure his bed is made properly, the chances are that your husband is going to be significantly more neat than the husbands of your civilian friends.
9. Physically Fit Lifestyle
If you’re not into working out, you might not be as interested in this perk, but it will definitely be easy to maintain a physically fit lifestyle as a military wife. Your husband’s job requires him to stay in good physical shape, so you can too.
You know he’ll encourage you in working out, and he’ll probably even want you to work out with him. Plus, you’ll have access to several gyms on base and lots of places to run and walk. And chances are that there will be several races on base each year if you’re a runner.
10. Patriotism and Gratitude
Finally, you’ll have a special gratitude for all that our service members do for our country because you know what life for them is actually like. Freedom comes at a price. You know the countless hours your husband has spent trying to be the best he can at his job to protect Americans’ freedom.
That ought to give you a huge pride for your husband’s occupation and of course your husband himself. You’ll be especially proud to be an American, and holidays like Memorial Day and 4th of July will probably have a special significance to you.
On the flip side, though, you’ll experience some particular challenges as a military wife. While you may know about some of them, others might come as a surprise.
5 Not-so Great Things About Being A Military Wife
1. Living Alone
You’ve probably been mentally prepared for the separation of deployments, but you’ll spend most of your married life without your spouse. This surprised me. I always thought that when the husbands weren’t deployed, they were home most of the time. But that’s not true.
Your husband will be gone from home for training, field operations, and so forth, and when he is home, he’ll mostly have long nights at work and won’t come back until late in the evening and have to leave early in the morning.
You’ll basically be manning the house yourself and living alone, which is especially hard if you’re raising kids. You’ll be a single parent most of the time, which can make you feel a bit unhappy that you ever decided to be a military wife in the first place.
2. His Career Over Your Career
You might have to put your career dreams on hold so that your husband can pursue his career in the military. If you’re a teacher or nurse, you’re in luck, but any other job is going to be more challenging.
Because you’ll move every 2 or 3 years, it may be challenging to find an employer who is willing to hire you for such a short time. If you love your career, this may be particularly challenging and cause some tension between you and your husband.
3. Military Life Will Take Over Your Life
As the phrase goes, “If the Marine Corps [or other branch of the service] wanted you to have a wife, it would have issued you one.” You will be completely powerless to the needs of your husband’s branch of service.
Your desires will always be second to the military, and no matter how much your spouse wishes he could be there for a birthday, race, etc., if he’s deployed/gone for training/out in the field, it won’t happen.
Plus, you’ll have to learn acronyms and deal with gear spread all throughout the house. And you’ll likely find that well-meaning friends and family will ask you questions about military life, and it will be hard sometimes to describe it in civilian terms!
4. Stationed Far Away From Family
If you’re close with your family and/or your husband’s family, there’s a good chance that you will be stationed far away from them. As a result, you may miss significant events for your family like the birth of your nephew or your grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary because you just can’t travel there. This is especially true if you’re overseas.
If you’re raising kids, this could be particularly hard, as you may not have the support you need for young children. You’ll likely find yourself wishing that your family and friends lived closer.
5. Stressors That Other Couples Don’t Have to Deal With
Finally, your marriage will undergo significantly more stress than other marriages, and you and your spouse will both have to be committed to see it through. You may have to go to counseling more often, and the chance of success for a military marriage is much lower than civilian marriages.
A bad deployment or challenging career course has led to countless divorces in the military. You’ll want to ensure that you and your husband are as open and honest as possible, meeting each other’s needs, and being the stress relief that the other person needs so that you grow together and not apart in the military.
At the end of the day, though, while being a military wife has its unique challenges, you’ll be a stronger woman for it. Plus, the benefits far outweigh any difficulties you’ll face. The tough six months you spent away from your husband during deployment won’t mean a thing when you get to see him for the first time again!