Finding Your Tribe: Learning to Lean on Military Family When “Real” Family is Far Away

Finding Your Tribe: Learning to Lean on Military Family When "Real" Family is Far Away

Who do you lean on when moving somewhere new? 

From the start of your very first PCS, it can become clear that living far away from family and lifelong friends brings many challenges. Sure, you can get homesick, frustrated by not knowing where you’re driving or how to easily find hotspots around town. But being away from those you love — from those you’ve always known — can be so much more difficult than that.

Who do you call if you have a medical procedure and need a ride? (That is, assuming your spouse can’t be reached.) Who do you have help you with the kids when one is sick, one has an event, and you have a deadline at work? Who brings you dinner when you’re sick? Makes plans to go out and do fun things? Who stops by for a quick cup of coffee and just to say hey?

When you’re moving somewhere new, the initial answer might be no one. And that can be a scary thought. Having NO ONE to rely on is extremely intimidating. It’s overwhelming, scary, and it can be downright stressful.

It’s also part of military life and is bound to happen time and time again. This won’t be the only time you’re stranded without contacts … but it does get easier. Being in a situation where you need others bonds you closely. It allows military families to bond quickly and deeply. It’s a situation wherein you become great friends fast, and where friends become more like family. 

These same types of bonds don’t usually form in everyday situations. When there’s no crisis, you won’t need others in the same way you do as a military family. 

Find Your Tribe

Of course, this means you are forced to find friends quickly. It means that military spouses make friendship dates in different ways than others might. It means that finding someone with kids your same ages is a BIG deal, and finding someone who likes the same things as you is even a much bigger deal. 

When you find your folks, hold on tight. And don’t worry, it will become easier over time to find and keep them. You might even wind up at the same duty station in years to come, assuming you’re both in the force long enough. 

How to Make Lasting Friendships

As a milspouse, it’s important to put effort into finding friendships that you think will last. Not focusing on short term acquaintances with whom you share very little. After all, you’re moving so frequently, there’s not much point in saving face. (Sure you should always be polite and cordial, but there’s no need to put the effort in place you don’t think it will create friendships.) 

You can always search on social media. Search posts for spouses who like the same things as you. Find events and ask who else will be there. Look at classes in activities that interest you and sign up! Make yourself vulnerable and speak to others. The only way you can make connections is to talk with others and get to know them. 

Another way to connect with others is through military events. Engage with your company or battalion, unit, and more. If folks invite you to dinner, make a point to go. The only way you can find folks who will eventually become your tribe is to meet people in your area. 

Until some app developer creates a friendship-making program, we’re stuck with good old fashioned methods. But don’t fret, they work! The point is to put in the effort, and to be honest. It’s ok to be busy and bogged down, just communicate that with your incoming friendships. 

Ask for Favors, And Accept Them

Finally, it’s time to remember that you and other milspouse need one another. You need one another in a way that most new friends do not. Remember that it’s the same for everyone, you’re not a random weirdo. All milspos are in the same boat! So when you need help, ask. And when someone offers to help, take it! 

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