Why You Need to Focus on Wellness as a Military Spouse

by | May 1, 2020 | Blog

Military spouses aren’t superheroes and we shouldn’t be expected to behave like them.

Military spouses aren’t superheroes and we shouldn’t be expected to behave like them.

As military spouses, we are viewed in a different light by many. Words like resilient and strong are often adjectives utilized to describe us, especially by the civilian public. They see the happy reunion videos and photos and cry right along with us. But they aren’t in our homes during the times we cry because this beautiful life can also carry a weight that drowns us.

There is a huge current focus on veteran wellness, which is absolutely important. But equally vital is the wellness of the military spouse. The stigma surrounding a mental health diagnosis is slowly fading, thanks to continuous research and the openness in which people are sharing their struggles. The assumption that a military spouse can handle anything is the next thing that needs to go. We aren’t superheroes and shouldn’t be expected to behave like them. 

This is a subject I am extremely passionate about. I’ve been a military spouse now for twelve years and have been with my husband for fifteen of his nineteen years of service to the United States Coast Guard. Throughout this time, I’ve encountered many different seasons. Some were filled with overwhelming loneliness or feeling lost without a purpose. It’s okay to not be okay. As a seasoned spouse, it is so important to me that I use my lessons and be an open book for spouses to see that they aren’t alone, even when they feel like they are. So here are three ways to bring wellness into your life right now:


What worked for me was finding the things that gave me joy and discovering my why. This can also be called finding your purpose, which has been linked to lower cardiovascular mortality rates and actually living longer. So, what is my purpose? I am a social worker, writer, obsessed book reader, and runner. I also happen to hold the titles of mama and military spouse. These are some things that are extremely important in my life and help define who I am. Although I am extremely proud of my husband’s service, I am not just a military spouse. I had to do deep work on myself to remember that although I may have responsibilities to others, my first should always be myself and my purpose. Once I did that, it changed my life.


I also learned to stop saying yes to everything. One of the hallmark traits of a military spouse is having a volunteer heart. We want to be of service—just like our spouses. But that carries a weight that I didn’t realize could overtake you. Learning how to be intentional with my yes and my time was so powerful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have an awesome handout with a test and checklist to evaluate your stress levels and time-management skills. It’s an important evaluation because increased stress levels have been proven to contribute to poor health. Although I sometimes still carry the guilt of saying no, my mental health is so much better for it.


The old age saying that “you can have it all” is extremely misleading. No plate is going to be perfectly balanced and sometimes things will fall off to make room for others. Be careful. Sometimes even a life filled with purpose and passion can lead to not being well. I learned the hard way that my plate must always contain space for self-care that doesn’t include one of my passion projects. Although I naturally thrive in a fast-paced and busy environment, I learned that it was negatively impacting my health. This means that making time to read, run, take baths, and sometimes do absolutely nothing is always a part of my day.

Life itself will always throw you many challenges that create issues for your mental health wellness. Then the military will add to that. These issues then manifest to affect your overall health and wellbeing if they aren’t taken care of. There have been studies that have proven that military spouses have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to their civilian counterparts. Understanding that your wellness matters is really important and the first step to making it through to the other side. As military spouses, we typically put ourselves last but we cannot help anyone else if we don’t first take care of ourselves. 

If you find yourself struggling to work through your challenges, and it’s impacting your wellness, reach out for help. Military One Source has 24/7 counselors for DOD spouses and CG SUPRT offers the same for Coast Guard spouses.  

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Jessica Manfre

Jessica Manfre

Jessica Manfre is the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Coast Guard Spouse of the Year. She has spent the last decade in social services serving vulnerable populations. Jessica earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Central Florida and is passionate about advocating for veterans and military families needs. She is a freelance writer and the co-founder and CFO of Inspire Up, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to serving communities in need. She’s also obsessed with her family, books, writing all the things, and strong coffee.



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InDependent makes wellness accessible and creates opportunities for all military spouses to connect for friendship, accountability, and inspiration.

We envision a time when all military spouses thrive through connection to community and resources that results in healthy decision-making for themselves and their families.