Twenty years ago, I met my husband. Like most young couples embarking on a life together, we weren’t thinking at that stage about what the future and a possible marriage would mean for our day-to-day lives. Jon was 4 years into his career in the Royal Navy based in Plymouth, whilst I lived and worked in the South East. This is when I became a military spouse.
The ‘spouse’ life can be viewed in two ways. It is only now that can see these perspectives and share these with you.
How I used to feel…
Jon and I have three daughters (two of which are twins) and by the time our eldest was 13, Jon had gone away on five different deployments, we had spent 6 Christmases in 6 different houses, the girls had been to 5 different schools, having to make new memories with new friends, settle in with new teachers and find new places to call home.
Will they get the education they need? How will they cope with moving AGAIN? Will they ever have a NORMAL life?
I had to find different jobs to fit in with our ever-changing situation as well as predominantly being the single parent in being there to support them.
I had to make sacrifices in my own career path and juggle the guilt of uprooting our little family from place to place. I had to find new jobs everywhere we went, new mother and child groups to join, new schools to understand, new extra curriculum clubs to join and new communities to try and become part of.
All with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be too long until I’d have to start everything all over again.
With time, I feel different…
My daughters gained 5 times the friends they would have from being in one place.
They can now make new friends easily, they have the confidence to go to new places and they have the resilience to adapt to their ever-changing environments that just cannot be taught.
They have gained not only a more rounded education from a multitude of schools but life lessons due to the experiences of new places and cultures, different opportunities, and a sense of the military community.
I have gained an array of work experience within different sectors from Tech, Education, the UK Government, the NHS, Higher Education, Recruitment, Property Sales, and Accounts; not to mention the soft skills that being a Mum and Royal Navy spouse mean you have to develop, such as resilience, adaptability, project management, and (as much as you can muster at the time) positivity!
Fast forward to the present day and I now find myself fortunate to be in a role that truly understands the role of the military spouse and what resilience, experience, and transferable skills they can bring to a business.
Through my own, and my family’s life experience I hope that I can really make a difference in assisting organisations to support their military community employees, whether they be Veterans, Reservists, Military Spouse(s) or family.
Jon has offered to put his notice in over the years, but I would never ask him to do that. Despite it all, he has a career he loves, our children have memories and experiences others could only dream of having and I have a family in the military community.
We are all incredibly proud of him, his achievements and the contribution he has made to Defence. We wouldn’t be the family we are today without our military roots – and my girls agree, we wouldn’t want it any other way!