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Forces sweethearts

Life as a military wife ADVICE

104 replies

Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 13:39

Hi, I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet. Basically I am a mum to 4 month old twins and my partner is wanting to join the army. He has some army background, also family in the army, knows exactly what he wants to do, knows exactly what it entails etc so I’m not going to go into that. But for me, I need advice on what life is like for the wives and the family side of it. We would all be moving with him into marriage quarters but my issue is we both have massive families that we’re so so so close to and I have a huge amount of support at home so me moving away would be a huge shock! I’d lose the massive family support, I’d miss my whole family, I just don’t think I could move away from them! My twins would also miss out on having the family around us 24/7! This is the only thing actually putting me off going. Also the fact of the twins having to move houses and schools every couple of years and never being able to truly settle. Could I just have some real insight what it’s like as a military wife and raising a family? I want the good, the bad and the ugly!! However, most of what I have heard has been pretty negative but there’s got to be some positives in it considering many people do it and stay? Thank you! X😊

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Ravensclawdropout · 10/10/2022 13:51

I am not a military wife but we did move overseas for years because my husband was a contractor for the US Army.

I would just say as someone who has relocated around the world a couple of times, nothing can replace the support and love of your family when you are raising children. Stability for children is essential for their well-being and happiness. The long term relationships with family and friends are just as important for you as your children. If I had a large family that I loved I wouldn't move away or take my children away. Some things cannot be bought in this life and a large, loving, extended family is one of them. I don't know what your solution as a couple is here but I wouldn't trade your family especially when you have baby twins.

Loneliness, anxiety and depression seems to be at epic levels everywhere right now, if you have the love and support of your family which help you stay happy and sane that is actually massive. Its hard enough being a mother if twins without losing your support system. The moves as an army wife can be just as disruptive and stressful for you as for your children.

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Iwouldlikesomecake · 10/10/2022 13:59

First off are you married or living together? That will affect your entitlement to a quarter- not to say you won’t be able to get one if you aren’t married but the entitlement is different. Also (I believe) you don’t get a quarter till he’s finished training.

How much you move is really dependent on his trade and rank. I know people who’ve been in the same place for the better part of 20 years and people who’ve moved annually! If you are moving between areas where there’s lots of people you can make friends and meet people but if like us you are in an isolated posting it’s a lot more insular. I’ve really got no military wife close friends although our neighbours are lovely.

My DH loved life as a military child! I think a lot of it is what you make of it, there’s pros and cons (some of the housing stock is a bit ropey…) but I’m very proud of my DH and what he does, I think if you take advantage of the good things it can be a real opportunity for the family as well as the serving person. Although it does require a bit of lateral thinking and a big dollop of compromise.

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Iwouldlikesomecake · 10/10/2022 14:01

Also a massive part of it is: he’s got family in the army. This will be a big plus point on your side because they will understand it. The hardest bit for me is that literally none of my friends at work understand that no, it’s not ‘naughty’ that my husband is often away and no I can’t insist he stays at home with me.

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Bellara · 10/10/2022 14:07

I'm married to someone in the military.

It's not easy, but it depends what you would be 'leaving' to join life as a military wife.

I was from a large wider family and my father was in the military so we were used to being away from said family and used to being reliant on each other, but also being away from the wider family fostered an independence in each of us. When I married my husband and moved away from where my parents settled, it wasn't so much of a wrench. I can't comment on or really imagine how it would feel to have had children and prepare to leave the family support you have.

You will always be the one that left, and always have to be the ones to go back (even if people do visit)-that I noticed amongst my best friends from the real world. It takes effort to sustain those relationships.

I love my life, and am very content with moving frequently. My young child is great company and that and a part time job and voluntary role keep me happy and busy enough not to miss 'home'.

You happiness will depend on what floats your boat in life-do consider what you need or need to do to ensure that, and, being self sufficient. I'd advise not to rely on any notions of a 'wives network' to be a substitute family or network. Things don't seem to be like that, any more. It suits me massively, but I'm aware it wouldn't others.

Best of luck. Have a good old think about what is right for you and your family. It will likely be on you to endure their happiness, so take time to think about enduring yours- and try to make the best of every posting 🌈.

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ShippingNews · 10/10/2022 14:07

I was an army wife for 20 years. We moved every few years and never lived near family. I lived like a single mother all those years. It was tough for the children, going to multiple schools, losing friends, ño continuity. Meantime my husband was living his lad's life . Having a fine time.

. Personally I would never recommend being a forces wife - the positive aspects were very few and far between. My marriage suffered - I always felt resentment because it was " all about him", and the kids and I made all the sacrifices. I was better educated than him, but his work always took precedence and I just had a series of short term jobs.

To be honest, if I could turn back time I'd never marry a serviceman .

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 15:03

He’s already completed the training so wouldn’t need to do that again. Possibly only a refresher that’s only a couple of weeks. We’re also guaranteed housing. I know how often we’d be moving and things and he has a family member that’s done the exact same and is now very high up so we know the ins and outs of what to expect in that aspect. I just wanted more of a wives and family side of it x

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 15:12

@Iwouldlikesomecake He’s already completed the training so wouldn’t need to do that again. Possibly only a refresher that’s only a couple of weeks. We’re also guaranteed housing. I know how often we’d be moving and things and he has a family member that’s done the exact same and is now very high up so we know the ins and outs of what to expect in that aspect. I just wanted more of a wives and family side of it x

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quitelikelyto · 10/10/2022 15:17

This is a decision you BOTH need to make and if you are not happy with it then it says a lot if he still goes ahead with it. Would he still go if you said no? So would he put his wants above yours? If so then your union with him is unbalanced and on shaky grounds already. Things to think about.

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 15:22

quitelikelyto · 10/10/2022 15:17

This is a decision you BOTH need to make and if you are not happy with it then it says a lot if he still goes ahead with it. Would he still go if you said no? So would he put his wants above yours? If so then your union with him is unbalanced and on shaky grounds already. Things to think about.

We’re not on shaky grounds at all. He would not be going if I was unhappy which he’s said over and over. But it is his dream so I’m trying to find out what life would be like for me as a military wife and raising kids before I commit or say definitely no.

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Mammed · 10/10/2022 15:36

DH joined the army after we'd been together 8 years and DS was 5.
I too am incredibly close to my side of the family and had never lived more than a few minutes walk away from my parents.

His first posting was overseas and it was incredibly hard! I was so homesick it made me physically ill.
I went from seeing my family everyday to seeing them a couple of times a year at the most.

He's been in almost 10 years now and both me and DS have learned to adapt, we're back on an overseas posting again now and absolutely loving it this time around. The school DS goes to is amazing and is worth the posting for that reason alone.
It's a massive adjustment when you've already been together a while though and can get incredibly lonely.
DH was away for 6 whole months this year and that's not unusual, we worked out that in 10 years we've spent more time apart than we have together. The divorce rate in the military is very high for that reason, I don't know anyone else who got together before the army and have remained a couple for more than a few years afterwards.

The army will always come first whilst he's serving and it can be difficult to swallow at times, especially when you need their emotional support but they're away and you're unable to contact them.

DH loves his job though and as a family it's given us some incredible opportunities that we wouldn't get otherwise.

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PuttingDownRoots · 10/10/2022 15:55

Been an Army wife for 12 years. In that time we had six different quarters in 3 different countries (only moved within the same country once!) And now I've settled down with the children for Married Unaccompanied life while he continues to move. We chose this because it was starting to have an adverse affect on the the children, especially our eldest DD who said she just wanted to go to one secondary school (after 5 Primary schools!)

We had a great time when the kids were young. But I was alone a lot. (Still am... like this week, he gets the party life in Cyprus (around the essential work he's doing there) while I'm scrapping around for childcare as I've just been informed about a meeting I need to attend at 7pm tomorrow!). Both our families were quite keen to visit us, but we never had them close by so it wasn't something we missed. My mum being retired helped as she could visit for a few weeks if DH wasn't around.

The moving is completely shit for your career.


However... not everyone moves a lot. I've got friends whove been in the Quarter for 10 years for example. It completely depends on what job. (Dh is an Attached Arm so very mobile, its a maximum of two years in one job and sometimes even less. He once got one days notice officially that he was moving jobs and country (he had to go on ahead to start work while the actual move happened)

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Ithoughtthiswastherehearsal · 10/10/2022 16:11

Hm. This is an interesting one. I was an army wife for a decade. My honest advice, which may be controversial, is that forces life is a great choice for low income families who want a better life, but not a good choice for couples with more money/options. The balance of pros and cons is different for those with more money.

How to explain. I’ve seen so many young couples who had zero cash and not great exam results who wanted a big family young, and the man joined up and they had four kids, got given a large house and a great social life on tap (the social life is fab!!!) and the man was trained up to achieve impressive things. He gets status, interesting satisfying job, gets to go to the gym for hours during the working day, ok money, she gets good social life and good house for the kids.

But, if you could have afforded a decent home anyway, and are already happy with your social life, and if you want a career, then the forces life is a much worse choice...

In the military they’re very clear on rank. Your husband is the important one and you the wife are the accessory/support. You are kind of treated with respect, but always less respect than him. If you just want to booze and party and look after kids then fine, but if you’re an intelligent ambitious woman, it can become hell. Finding a job is hard, employers don’t like forces wives as they know you’ll quit in 2-3 years (some forces wives even lie to employers to get jobs, pretending not to have a miltary spouse).

For children, I’m afraid it is a crap life. A confident outgoing boy who’s good at football may be ok being moved from school to school, but a shy boy, or a girl (for whom ‘best friend’ is usually more important, and who also has to deal with the ‘mean girls’ who appear in most schools) will struggle. I know many adults who moved around with the forces, and all of them wished they’d had a home in one place.

A lot of army wives are miserable. The happy ones tend to drink heavily.

In your situation, with young twins and supportive family nearby, I think you’d be giving up a lot and he’d be gaining a lot.

Also - and this isn’t mentioned enough - it is bloody stressful for you when husband is away in Afghanistan or wherever and getting bombs lobbed at his base every night for 6 months. Coming home with a healthy body is a lottery. My husband loved being on tour, but I had a lot of nightmares while he was away, and it would have been even harder if we’d had children crying because they miss daddy / getting triggered by news reports, etc.

There’s a reason DH left 🤷‍♀️

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. If you’re 20 and love to party, want to be a sahm and can’t afford a house, then the forces life may be a fantastic choice for your family. If not… Be very careful what you agree to give up.

The military may be his dream, but there are other good choices he can make - and you get to have dreams too.

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mumarewenearlythereyet · 10/10/2022 16:14

If there is any neurodiversity on either side of your family which means there's a chance your children could be autistic then please please don't.

Dad was in the army. I'm autistic (diagnosed as an adult) and moving home and schools, all that change and uncertainty was absolute hell.

We actually only moved a few times compared to friends but it was so hard to make friends anyway with autism so loosing the very few I had was hard. After my last move as a teenager I didn't make any. Moving school at 13 was just the worst. Three years of no friends, hiding in the library every break time really damaged by mental health for years afterwards.

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 16:23

mumarewenearlythereyet · 10/10/2022 16:14

If there is any neurodiversity on either side of your family which means there's a chance your children could be autistic then please please don't.

Dad was in the army. I'm autistic (diagnosed as an adult) and moving home and schools, all that change and uncertainty was absolute hell.

We actually only moved a few times compared to friends but it was so hard to make friends anyway with autism so loosing the very few I had was hard. After my last move as a teenager I didn't make any. Moving school at 13 was just the worst. Three years of no friends, hiding in the library every break time really damaged by mental health for years afterwards.

Sorry you had to go through that. There’s no signs of autism on either side of our families.

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Hawkins001 · 10/10/2022 16:31

Reading with intrigue, all the best op, @Twinmummy22

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 16:37

Ithoughtthiswastherehearsal · 10/10/2022 16:11

Hm. This is an interesting one. I was an army wife for a decade. My honest advice, which may be controversial, is that forces life is a great choice for low income families who want a better life, but not a good choice for couples with more money/options. The balance of pros and cons is different for those with more money.

How to explain. I’ve seen so many young couples who had zero cash and not great exam results who wanted a big family young, and the man joined up and they had four kids, got given a large house and a great social life on tap (the social life is fab!!!) and the man was trained up to achieve impressive things. He gets status, interesting satisfying job, gets to go to the gym for hours during the working day, ok money, she gets good social life and good house for the kids.

But, if you could have afforded a decent home anyway, and are already happy with your social life, and if you want a career, then the forces life is a much worse choice...

In the military they’re very clear on rank. Your husband is the important one and you the wife are the accessory/support. You are kind of treated with respect, but always less respect than him. If you just want to booze and party and look after kids then fine, but if you’re an intelligent ambitious woman, it can become hell. Finding a job is hard, employers don’t like forces wives as they know you’ll quit in 2-3 years (some forces wives even lie to employers to get jobs, pretending not to have a miltary spouse).

For children, I’m afraid it is a crap life. A confident outgoing boy who’s good at football may be ok being moved from school to school, but a shy boy, or a girl (for whom ‘best friend’ is usually more important, and who also has to deal with the ‘mean girls’ who appear in most schools) will struggle. I know many adults who moved around with the forces, and all of them wished they’d had a home in one place.

A lot of army wives are miserable. The happy ones tend to drink heavily.

In your situation, with young twins and supportive family nearby, I think you’d be giving up a lot and he’d be gaining a lot.

Also - and this isn’t mentioned enough - it is bloody stressful for you when husband is away in Afghanistan or wherever and getting bombs lobbed at his base every night for 6 months. Coming home with a healthy body is a lottery. My husband loved being on tour, but I had a lot of nightmares while he was away, and it would have been even harder if we’d had children crying because they miss daddy / getting triggered by news reports, etc.

There’s a reason DH left 🤷‍♀️

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. If you’re 20 and love to party, want to be a sahm and can’t afford a house, then the forces life may be a fantastic choice for your family. If not… Be very careful what you agree to give up.

The military may be his dream, but there are other good choices he can make - and you get to have dreams too.

We both have good jobs that are secure and well paying. Also have a huge family support network right on our doorstep so it would be hard leaving them!! Thankfully he’s not wanting to go into the infantry so won’t be on the front line so a little less risk of that happening! Even though I have a good job I would happily be a SAHM and I’m actually thinking of doing a little business from home so there’s no issues career wise either way. He has family in the army that absolutely love it and have children who love their lives. The opportunities it can bring is huge! One of my best friends was also an army child and she loved the opportunities and is thankful she got them but does dislike the fact she can’t say she’s still got friends she had when she was younger. When speaking to her mum about military life she is against it now she’s out but loved it when she was in just not the being away from family aspect. It’s the being away from our family that is holding me back as that’s such a huge thing for me x

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2bazookas · 10/10/2022 16:48

I was brought up in a garrison town, where Services children regularly arrived in our school (and left). In and out of married quarters; off to another foreign military base, an other new school. No point making longterm friends. I always thought their lives were hellish.

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 16:54

2bazookas · 10/10/2022 16:48

I was brought up in a garrison town, where Services children regularly arrived in our school (and left). In and out of married quarters; off to another foreign military base, an other new school. No point making longterm friends. I always thought their lives were hellish.

Did you just live in a town where military families were based or were you one of the military families? Do you have any insight as to what life is like for a military family? I know some military children and they didn’t mind moving schools at all because that’s all they’d known

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gogohmm · 10/10/2022 17:01

There is an alternative option too, you can choose not to move with him, more common these days. You will see less of your dp but more stability for the children.

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Aurora791 · 10/10/2022 17:02

I’d be very cautious and try and determine what you want individually, rather than what you want as a couple. I say this from experience both as an army spouse and a former soldier. You say that you know how often you’d be moving, however you never know this for certain. You need to be very comfortable with uncertainty, and long periods of short notice separation.

I don’t want to sound negative, but it’s easy to romanticise the forces lifestyle as all patch houses, coffee mornings and mess balls, but it’s very different to that in reality, and the world is a very uncertain place at the moment. There haven’t been too many tours going since herrick, but that can change quickly. Being alone solo parenting with young children, when far from family is very very hard.

Whatever you decide make sure it is not you making all the sacrifice. Protect your career and your independence- of our current peer group of 15 there are only 3 couples with the original wife still around (over a 8 year period). Some couples have seen 2 wives come and go over that period. Read into that what you will, but it will challenge your relationships in ways you never knew, and I’ve seen many great women be totally screwed over because they quit their career to be a sahm and support hubbys army career, and then find themselves out of their army accommodation and with huge career gaps when their relationships fell apart.

it’s not all doom and gloom. The forces can be a wonderful opportunity for many many people, but you sound like someone who will be giving up a career and close family ties for your hubby job, so please protect your own interests!

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slowquickstep · 10/10/2022 17:11

Military wife of 20+ years, it was hell on earth and bloody fantastic. Go for and have the time of your life

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Restlessinthenorth · 10/10/2022 17:13

Haven't read all the posts, but from my personal experience, i absolutely HATED it. If you have any ambition about having a career of your own, forget it. The constant moves make it almost impossible. I found the other wives extremely cliquey and because they generally didn't work (see previous re career), very much in each other's pockets and also quite attached to their husbands ranks (and I say that as the wife of an officer.) I saw some extremely snobby, bitchy behaviour that I would have wanted no part of.

I hated being away from my family, especially when it is made very clear that the army comes first always. So you are never anyones priority.

The quarters we had were dumps. Some of the houses more junior soldiers lived in were grim. Educational and social attainment for military children is often poor.

I'm short, I would not love that life again for all the money in the world. Either married unaccompanied or don't marry a soldier, would be my advice

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Twinmummy22 · 10/10/2022 17:19

gogohmm · 10/10/2022 17:01

There is an alternative option too, you can choose not to move with him, more common these days. You will see less of your dp but more stability for the children.

This isn’t an option we’re even considering. Either we all go or none of us go. Just wanting a big of advice/what to expect for me if we were to go x

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Radiatorvalves · 10/10/2022 17:30

Just seen your post about moving with him… do give this some thought.

fwiw I was a Navy wife. Husband was either in Scotland or in the Middle East. We could have had a MQ in Scotland, but why? He’d have been at sea 90% of the time. And I’d have gone nuts and found it very hard to get a job. We could potentially have been entitled to boarding school allowance (CEA), but the rules are very tight. Given I have a good job and wanted kids to stay at same school and have stability, we based ourselves in one place. We had just 3 years in a MQ - ok but never felt like home, great garden,no shower, cheap rent). I’d think hard about your priorities. It works for some but not all. We’d both join RN again,but I’d never follow him about.

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Crazykatie · 10/10/2022 17:30

It’s a tricky one, there are not many overseas postings for family, UK married quarters are few and poor condition, officers off are better but not much. The forces are a good life for single recruits, partners get very much second place.

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