For me, the hardest part about being an army wife is how hard you have to try. You have to constantly try to be a good partner, to try and look after yourself, to try and be a good friend, to try and get used to life in a new place, to try and put your partner first. You have to try to have your own identity and your own sense of self when your role as an army wife demands more of you than a civilian relationship would.
Every single aspect of your life is impacted by your partner’s career, even in a small way, and it feels like you are constantly battling to create a sense of balance in your life while still supporting your spouse in their job.
As an army wife there is always something new and overwhelming to deal with. Another move. An exercise. Overnight shifts. You have to be able to accept the way that decisions made by the army will have huge impacts on your life.
It isn’t easy.
I feel like moving to a new place is harder on the army wife than it is on the person in defence. I always say to my partner that he chose this lifestyle, I didn’t. I just chose him, and I’m doing whatever it takes for us to be together.
On top of that, when we moved up here he had a job set up, he knew people he would be working with, and his friends from work were moving to Darwin too.
I’m lucky that my uni work and my writing can be done online, but for other army spouses they have to completely reconstruct their lives with each move.
The most challenging part of living in a new location for me is trying to make new friends and set up a support network. There’s something so strange about setting out with the intention of making friends as an adult. You don’t have school or uni to create an environment where friendships easily develop.
I’ve really been trying to do things to create connections and get involved in the community (I’ll post more on that another time), but friendships aren’t something that happen overnight.
It’s hard, because lately I’ve been feeling like I really need my friends. I miss being able to go out for coffee, or to take someone shopping with me, or having someone to complain about my bad day to that isn’t my partner. I really miss my friends and I really miss my family.
Darwin being a remote location makes it harder, too. My hometown is a 48 hour drive away, and my friends are scattered in Australia’s southern states.
It’s so strange to feel lonely when I have such a wonderful partner, but it’s really difficult for him to be the only person I have to talk to or spend time with (besides our cat). I haven’t spent time with anyone except my partner for nine months, and as much as I love him it just makes me feel so frustrated and isolated by the army wife lifestyle.
Are any other army wives facing challenges like this? How do you deal with the pressure to be a good partner while also looking after yourself? Share your experiences with me in the comments below.