It’s 7:19 a.m. and I am on the floor of a new apartment in a new city with a newly stubbed toe thanks to the discarded boots in the middle of the hallway. I’m surrounded by half-open moving boxes. One of which, for some reason only the PCS gods will ever understand, is full of recyclables that were clearly marked, “Do not pack.”
I was looking for the coffee maker but only managed to find the coffee. I don’t know where the nearest Starbucks is and I just remembered I don’t have my car here yet anyway. This is a scenario that is, perhaps, universal for military spouse life. As many milspouses have done when all feels lost, I started laughing.
RECOGNIZE THAT MILITARY LIFE IS FUNNY
Sitting on the floor in the only clean t-shirt I could find, searching for coffee like it’s lost treasure, nursing my wounded toe and cursing my spouse, the military, and the universe for taking me away from everyone and everything I know, I started belly laughing so hard I think I made the neighbors nervous. Because here’s the thing about military life: it’s funny.
It’s like watching a farce in which the main character keeps slipping on banana peels and running into walls. Once you stop feeling sorry for the poor guy, you start laughing at all his sad and terrible hijinks.
You can detach yourself from the sinking feeling of self-pity and helplessness and begin to see your military life as a comedy rather than a tragedy. It takes some creativity and a whole lot of perspective-shifting, but when you’re on the floor at 7:19 a.m. and you have the choice between crying and laughing, my hope is that you’ll wake up the neighborhood with laughter.
THREE CREATIVE WAYS TO FIND THE HUMOR IN MILITARY LIFE
Read, listen, or watch other milspouse stories. One of the most therapeutic things I did near the start of my milspouse life was grab my laptop and pop up several blogs, podcasts, and memes that showed me I am not alone.
Believing you are the only one who has ever had to give birth alone or missed every single anniversary with your spouse can be a real bummer. Knowing there are other milspouses out there who have gone through the same thing may not take the sting out of your own situation, but it will certainly give you tons of people to commiserate with.
Find a community and share your stories. I founded a little comedic military spouse community called How to MilSpouse (it’s funny because I don’t actually know how to milspouse). Our Facebook group is reaching 13,000 members and it is the most kind, nurturing, and hilarious community.
Saluted the gate guard again? Forgot to tip the Commissary bagger? Handed someone your debit card rather than your military ID? Find a community of fellow milspouses who can share your sad and funny military life stories.
Start your own community! After I started How to MilSpouse, a funny thing happened: I actually looked forward to crazy stuff happening in my military life. When I tried to high-five a commanding officer? When I spilled milk on my husband’s dress blues? When I yelled at my spouse to speak “human words” after he spoke an entire sentence in acronyms? I savored these moments because I knew I was going to make a meme, write a blog, or shoot a video for my fellow milspouses.
Having an audience and a platform to share your stories makes a huge difference. It gives you power to write the story how you want. And each time you get to choose whether you want it to be a tragedy or a comedy.
ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT IF MY LIFE WERE A MOVIE?”
You are the main character of your own life. If you could pick the genre of your life, my bet is you would pick something fun like comedy or adventure (or maybe romance, but between deployments and trainings, maybe we should be realistic here . . . ).
As you’re going through all the ups and downs of military life, get outside of your own head for a second and look at your life as if it were a comedic movie. Grab some metaphorical popcorn, watch all the craziness occur with a new perspective, and be prepared to laugh at whatever happens next.
Maggie Machado is the founder of the military spouse community, How to MilSpouse. She is also a freelance content developer and market researcher at her advertising company, The Text Effect, LLC. She is a Marine Corps spouse, dog mom, and (newly) human mom.