Salute to Spouses Blog

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Finding a new kind of home

My husband says I can make a new best friend in line at the commissary.

I’ll bet many of you are the same way – you move to a new place, and within five minutes you’ve met someone who will be the emergency contact for your kids’ school. Or the person who will be your go-to pet sitter. Or even someone you’ll spend more time with over the next two years than you do with your husband.

That’s military life. We bond fast.

And we bond hard

Friendships are not so easily forged in the civilian world.

We were in our new home for six months before I had one local Facebook friend. I was flummoxed by my inability to meet people and, when I did, the lack of common interests with which to start a conversation.

People were nice and friendly, even more so than I expected. I know some other parents through my kids’ activities. I started doing some volunteer work with a local organization that I care about and made some great acquaintances.

But it just wasn’t the same.

Then something magical happened.

A retired military spouse named Catherine, who was also feeling a little lonely, started a Facebook page for spouses in our local area. Though the group is open to any spouse, those of us who are married to retirees seemed more attracted to it – or maybe more in need of it.

The page grew by word of mouth and in a few months it had grown to 140 members. There is a core group of eight or ten of us who get together regularly. We’ve done coffee-type events at people’s houses, paint and sip parties, movie nights, breakfast dates, lunch dates, dinner dates, shopping trips and even a beach cleanup.

We also play breakfast bingo every week at Chick Fil A.

Other than the PTA spaghetti and bingo night at my kids’ school in Germany, I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually played bingo sober before.

But let me tell you, these ladies know how to have fun, even at 8:30 on a Thursday morning at a fast food restaurant.

Chick Fil A bingo was my first “event” a few months ago. One of the ladies in that spouses’ FB group posted that she was going, and I figured, why not?

That first time meeting up was like a blind date. I had her FB profile pulled on my phone, so I could see her picture. The only thing that would have made it funnier was if I had to swipe right.

Some weeks we have more than half dozen from our group join us, other times it’s just one or two.  Some have little kids at home. Some are grandparents. Some have full-time careers or go to school, or both.

But no matter what, the conversation is easy and lively and funny.

Before this group, I was struggling with the lack of social interaction. I don’t miss the military at all, and I talk regularly to several friends who are military spouses, both still active and retired.

But, as much as I love those sisters, it’s not the same as being right in front of someone and becoming friends in the context of where our lives are now, post-military.

It took a lot of moxie for Catherine to start that FB page. I am forever grateful to her for that.

It also took a lot of gumption for each of us to blindly walk into a meet up at Chick Fil A, the movies, or Panera Bread, having no connection to each other besides the fact that our husbands were once in the military.

And the weird thing is, we rarely talk about the military. I don’t even know which service most of the other women’s husbands served, or their rank.

We’re just regular people now, no longer known to each other simply because our spouse’s serve in the same unit, or because we met at a “mandatory fun” event.

We were brought together by one small shred of military commonality, and we’re bound by embracing the changes we are all going through in life after the military.

It’s a new kind of sisterhood, to go with whatever the new normal is for each of us.

It’s comfortable. It’s familiar.

It feels like home.

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