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Your Friendships Change as An Army Spouse

To all of my friends still living solely in the civilian world, you know I still love you. 😉

That said, it is sometimes very hard for them to understand our life once he joined the military.

I’ve talked to several pre-military friends about it, and they understand where I am coming from.

It is hard to understand the challenges of being a military spouse until you’ve been in the situation. Just the same as we don’t understand what anyone else truly endures without walking in their shoes.

I didn’t understand what it would be like before he joined. And I didn’t have nearly the respect I should have for military families. Now that I’m on the inside, my entire perspective has changed. As is the case with most situations.

The Language Barrier

As you become more accustomed to military life, you will find yourself beginning to use all of those Army acronyms that, at one point, you found to be so annoying.

The other day, I was talking with a friend and had to explain almost every other word. I’m just so accustomed to being around my husband, his soldier friends, and their wives…the acronyms are now a natural part of the conversation. I have to really think about it not to use acronyms now.

I also made the mistake once of inviting a new non-military friend over when I was having all Army wives over for dinner. She was so overwhelmed by all the Army talk that I think we scared her off.

The Security Barrier

You cannot and should not discuss your soldier’s deployment or training. This is especially true for special operations units.

It’s much easier when you don’t know anything and can’t say anything. However, even some information given out in FRG meetings is not meant to be shared outside the unit.

Of course, this can sometimes make conversations difficult. It is very important that you let your friends and even your family know about OPSEC. They must understand why you cannot tell them anything – particularly over the phone.

Many mistakenly believe that because you can turn on the news and see what is going on with the war in Iraq, you can share any information you have.

This is not the case, and you can get yourself and your soldier in trouble. The old saying “Loose Lips Sink Ships” still holds true today!

Because of that, you tend to naturally gravitate to other Army spouses in your soldier’s unit or to other military wives in general. They understand why you can’t talk about certain subjects or if their husband is in the same unit, it is the one time you can speak freely without worrying about slipping up.

The Separation Barrier

While many friends are sympathetic to your husband being gone, few can say things to make you feel better. My all-time favorite is “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t do it if my husband were always gone.”

Knowing that my friend doesn’t think they could handle it does nothing to help me handle it better.

It is hard, but there’s no way to describe your feelings during a deployment separation adequately.

You have days when you want to do nothing but cry, you have days when you feel lost, and you have days when you feel anxious because you just heard a news story about KIAs.

But you also have days that aren’t so bad.

Once you establish a routine, you may find that you can “enjoy” the separation as a time for both of you to grow, learn new things, and establish an even deeper commitment to your relationship.

You may even find you have days when you don’t think about it until someone asks you how he’s doing.

Then you feel guilty when you realize it’s the first time you thought about him today.

Your emotions can be like a roller coaster ride, and it’s easier to be around someone going through the same thing.


On the other hand, having friends around can be wonderful, especially when you want a break from military life.

When you think you’ll scream if you see another piece of his BDUs lying on the floor or if you hear one more acronym, it’s nice to have someone from the “outside” world around you.

Sometimes, it’s so nice to know that there is a life outside the Army, and I think we can close ourselves off too much.

There’s that saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One’s silver, the other gold.” I’ll let you decide which group is gold or silver for you. As for me, I’m keeping both!

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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