There may be no crying in baseball, but in life as a military spouse, sometimes it can feel like there’s not even an option to acknowledge a difficult or seemingly unfair situation. I remember finding myself alone in a remote rural town, surrounded by dairies with a fly problem and regular 80 mile per hour winds and listening to the Air Force spousal mantra, it is what you make it. Well, it’s true, a negative attitude can make your surroundings worse, but sometimes it’s just relieving to acknowledge that you’re in the armpit of the earth and it wasn’t by choice. At the same time, those bases were the places I met the most interesting, dynamic people who will remain lifelong friends. When you’re stationed 30 miles past BFE, the best part can be other people stationed there with you. In that vein, here are 5 steps to developing quality, supportive relationships in your new location.
1) put yourself out there don’t go to stuff alone
Yes, it’s hard and at first, you feel awkward like the new girl in high school eating lunch at the cafeteria table all by yourself. You might not know where to sit, so you’ll go to the bathroom when you don’t really need to so you can give yourself a pep talk, splash some water on your face and then when someone does talk to you, you start giggling uncontrollably and snort your soda out your noses or is that just me? Regardless of how uncomfortable it is, the tried and true method of meeting people is attending events, joining clubs and leaving your house on a regular basis.
2)become interested in strangers get to know others
It sounds obvious, but a key part of meeting people is asking them questions about the topic they’re most interested in – themselves. I actually have a list of get to know you questions that I memorized and I ask every person I meet. That’s not enough though, you have to be truly interested in their responses, actively listening and searching for something to relate with them about. This is about building real friendships, not meaningless acquaintances; so put your heart into these conversations. In short, care about others lives.
3) Do favors
Be there for people when they have a need or a crisis and you can help. Why? You could say it’s important because you never know when you’ll need a favor yourself. Or it could be a general karma thing. But I do it because we’re a military family and family members are the people you can count on to always be there during the rough times. They’re the ones who rush over to babysit when you need to go to the hospital at 2:00 am because your spouse gave themselves Nair chemical burns or again, is that just me?
4) Don’t be afraid to ask
It’s tough to learn the military lingo . Rules and regulations change with every installation. If you don’t know what something is/means, ask. It’s a great conversation starter! You’d be surprised how often 20 year veteran spouses won’t know the answer and you can learn together!
Developing these relationships doesn’t mean you’ll never feel military related stress, but it does mean that you”ll have a shoulder to cry on and maybe even a friend that can give good advice and direct you to great resources. Who knows, maybe you’re the friend they’ve been looking for too!