I’m an AF wife. Darling Husband has been in 3 years.
So my question for you bees is what will life be like as an AF wife?
Life as a military spouse is what you make it. You can choose to hate it and be miserable and you can choose to embrace it for what it is and make the best of it. We all sign up for this lifestyle and we go in with our eyes open knowing about the issues surrounding it. Get used to being 2nd in his life, while he is military the military always has to come first. He will not be around for holidays, birthdays, events all the time. He may get told he’s leaving with just days warning. They can do whatever they want. Get used to standing in line, the Air Force’s unofficial motto is “Hurry up and wait”. Get used to being by yourself. Get used to dealing with paperwork and red tape, the military loves their bureaucracy.
That being said, there are plenty of positives. I don’t want to just complain and tell one side of the story. Travel is fantastic. We currently live overseas in England, a place both of us have always wanted to go, and we get to live here for 3 years and our daughter gets to say she was born here. That’s pretty awesome. The AF also has really awesome resources for spouses. The can help you with your education, job placement, etc as well as offering free counseling (both individual and couples), spouse support groups, etc. I know, for me at least, the other wives in DHs shop are amazing and between that and spouse groups, I have made many life-long friends.
Will it be hard to find a well paying stable job myself?
Honestly? It depends on where you are. We are stationed in England. Here, the answer to that question is YES. The spouse job market is very slim pickings here. This is why a lot of mil-wives operate their own small businesses. A lot of employers don’t like to hire mil spouses because they know we will leave in a couple years. A lot of bases are in the middle of no where… Honestly, don’t get your heart set on finding your dream job while he is enlisted. It’s possible if all your cards line up in perfect order but you will soon learn that that rarely happens with the military. You are better off focusing on your Master’s because you do get tuition assistance from the USAF.
Will I move a lot?
Yes. A regular accompanied tour at a base is 3 years, but it could be more or less. In 3 years, Darling Husband has been at 3 different bases. He spent a year in tech school at Eglin AFB in FL. He spent a year at Cannon AFB in NM and we have been in England since late July. We are due to have a full 3 years here. You can also get involuntarily extended and do 4 years.
Will it get lonely?
Yes. It comes with the territory. Like I said before, they can leave at a moments notice and not tell you where your husband is going or how long he will be gone. AF deployments are 2-6 months but they also go TDY as well. The best thing to do is have something to occupy yourself. Find a hobby, get a job, go to school, make a lot of friends, volunteer, etc. You have to fill your time with something or you will go nuts. You have to put yourself out there. If you act like a sad sack and sit in your house, then expect to feel like a sad sack all the time. Get out, meet people and have a life!
How often do spouses cheat (this seems to come up in every thread I’ve read!)
Spouses cheat whether they are military or civilian. This is not exclusive to the military, although people like to sterotype. : Not all men will sleep with their female airmen on deployment, not all wives are sluts and “tag-chasers”. Don’t buy into that BS.
Should I live on/off base?
This definitely depends on where you are. Here, it’s off-base all the way. Most overseas bases have a housing shortage and the housing is old and out-dated. You will wait for a long time to get into the nice, new housing, sometimes up to 18-24 months. There are other bases that have awesome base housing. For us, we like being off-base. It gives Darling Husband a break from the military and it allows him to be home and out of his work mindset. We also like being able to max out our OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance) and getting the most space for our money. We have an extra bedroom for Darling Husband to use as his office off-base, where on-base we would only get a 2 bedroom house. I agree with not buying unless you know you will be there a long time! We do own a home stateside, but it doesn’t have a mortgage so it doesn’t create a financial burden on us… plus, it’s in our home town, near our families and we know that’s where we will settle when we are done with the AF.
Is there anything you definitely suggest on doing before/after moving?
Research where you are moving. There are TONS of Facebook groups for every base that can be a wealth of information. There are even some that have pictures of base housing on every base so you can get a sneak peek. Usually, a quick google search can turn up tons of information about the base and the surrounding area. Military people, especially wives, are very good about sharing information.
SAVE YOUR MONEY. PCSing can be incredibly expensive, especially if you get sent overseas. An overseas move can easily eat up $5-10k in savings. Start stocking away a portion of his paychecks now and be prepared. Too many mil families don’t save for emergencies and then you get stuck in a bad place.
Take pictures and/or video of everything. This is the only way you get reimbursed for things if they get broken. Our big TV died in our move here and we had no proof that it was working when it was packed, so we couldn’t claim it. Luckily, it was old and Darling Husband was more than happy to go buy a huge new one but… not everyone is as lucky as us.
Start a main file of all important documents. I have a huge manilla envelope with all of our important stuff in it, birth certs, marriage cert, passports, visas, orders, car titles, everything. Keeping all these things in a central location where they can be found quickly and easily is essential.
Don’t take anything you don’t use now. Believe me, you don’t want to move anything you don’t have to.
Any additional helpful advice?
Brush up on military etiquette! There are lots and lots of obscure practices and rules that I had no idea about going in. It’s best to know these things because you getting in trouble can get your husband in trouble. Also, don’t get sucked into the cliquey, high school mentality that some spouses have. Remember that you are always representing your husband, his job and his squadron. Keep it classy. 🙂
Like a PP said, patience, communication and a sense of humor are key.
If you ever have any more questions, feel free to PM me!