40 Ways You Know You Are a Military Wife

40 Ways You Know You Are a Military Wife
photography by Tina Walton 2013

It’s time again for us to pack up and move on.  I just found out yesterday that our pack date got moved up by three days.  “Flexibility is the key to air power”, or so they say.  After 20 years of being a military family, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to develop flexibility.  It got me thinking about all the unique, wonderful, challenging and quirky things that go along with being married to a military man.  Here’s my list of a few ways you know you are a military wife.

  1. You’ve entertained a toddler with a roll of packing tape because it was the only thing in the house that was not boxed up.
  2. You’ve ever responded “copy” or “wilco” when your husband tells you something. He understands you better if you try to speak his language.
  3. Your children were not all born in the same state (or even the same country).
  4. You own enough curtain rods in various sizes for two houses. When you buy new curtains, you get an extra set because your next house may have 2 windows in that room instead of just one.
  5. You have a closet of items you are not currently using, but are keeping because you may need them in the next house.
  6. You have difficultly recalling your zip code when asked.
  7. You can rattle off your husband’s SSN in your sleep, but there is a long pause followed by “You want mine?” when someone asks for yours. (The question is just a stall tactic while you try to remember what it is.)
  8. You’re not technically a single parent, but you sure feel like one sometimes.
  9. You learned how to repair the furnace, fix the car, and teach your son to pee standing up because your husband was deployed when these things needed to be done.
  10. You’ve ever listed someone you’ve known less than a week as an emergency contact for your children. You just met, but you already know you can trust her.
  11. You feel like you’re getting married all over again when your husband comes home from a long deployment.
  12. You’ve ever had someone tell you they are not interested in becoming friends with you because you are a military family and you will move away as soon as they decide they like you.
  13. You’ve said “see you later” instead of “goodbye” to countless amazing friends so you wouldn’t cry.
  14. You’ve tried to explain to your 4-year old that you are never going back to your “real house” which was the only home she knew until now.
  15. You know that “home” is a relative term. It can refer to the place you’re living now, the place you just came from, or any camper, TLF, or pit stop somewhere between the two.
  16. You get teary-eyed during the Star Spangled Banner and you make sure you teach your children to stand when the Stars and Stripes pass by and put their hand over their heart for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. (Your right hand, Dear.)
  17. You also use the Star Spangled Banner that blasts over the speakers on base at 5 pm every day to call your kids home for dinner. The song is both patriotic and functional.
  18. When you are honest, you admit you are a little jealous of friends whose husbands are home for dinner every night. You catch yourself daydreaming what that might be like.
  19. You have a hard time mustering sympathy for your friend whose civilian husband is gone on a 2-day trip.
  20. Your one-year old has called your iPhone “Dada” because that’s the only place he gets to see him for months at a time.
  21. You own at least one miniature version of your husband called a “Daddy Doll” that your children cuddle like a stuffed animal. You know it does little to fill the void, but you’re still grateful for it.
    military wives are often single parents
  22. When you’re frustrated with your husband and tempted to complain, you are stopped short because you remember all your dear friends whose husbands paid for the defense of freedom with their lives. You remember to be grateful instead.
  23. Your young children have mistaken other men in uniform for Daddy.
  24. You have repeatedly frustrated your family members who are trying to include you in plans for a vacation or holiday because you have no idea where you will be living in 6 months, much less what you’ll be doing then.
  25. You scoff at the idea of setting 5-year or 10-year goals.
  26. You are constantly finding moving stickers in a rainbow of colors from previous moves.
  27. You’ve ever had a nightmare that the truck carrying all your family’s worldly possessions went up in flames on the interstate or fell off the boat somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
  28. Some unsuspecting person learns your husband is in the military and innocently asks you where you have lived. They interrupt and change the subject when you’re only on the 10th location.  You were just getting started.
  29. You can’t imagine what it would be like to live in the same place for 20 years (or even 5).
  30. You’ve pretended to be brave in front of the kids when Daddy has to leave again. You wait until they’re sleeping to fall apart—except when the emotions are too overpowering.  Then they watch you fall apart and you are humbled and loved as they tenderly try to comfort you.
  31. The 10th birthday is a big deal in your household because the child gets to go with Daddy to get an official military ID. You don’t let him actually have it until he’s 16 though, because it’s so hard to replace (esp. when Daddy is out of town).
  32. You’ve ever given your military ID along with your Driver’s license to the cop who pulled you over. Maybe he’ll be lenient if he knows how much you sacrifice for your country.
  33. You know important military information even before your husband does because you’re connected to the spouse network—the real source of military intelligence.
  34. You’ve ever had to separate all your family’s belongings into what-goes-into-storage and what-we-need-for-the-next-year.
  35. Even your children know how to check off boxes on the inventory sheet when you’re moving in.
  36. You’ve ever moved your family or given birth to your baby while your husband was away.
  37. You’ve ever asked for help from another military spouse you didn’t know very well because you didn’t know what else to do and you knew she wouldn’t mind.
  38. You’ve given help to a fellow military spouse (even a total stranger) because that’s how this sisterhood thrives.
  39. You’re proud of your man and the way he serves his country and his family.
  40. You value our rights and freedoms as Americans because you know firsthand what it costs to secure and maintain them.

Share this with your military friends and see what you can add to my list.  Post what you come up with in the comments.  I’d love to hear your ideas too!


  • Great list! A few of these made me tear up. We are on year 19 and not located near a base. I really miss my AF family! I once asked two ladies at my table at school registration to be my emergency contacts! LOL!

  • Perfect list! I served for 7 years and my husband just retired from the Air Firce after 25 years and these are spot on! We just used WILCO last night at the dinner table, lol!

  • It is a good life and I feel sorry for civilians, they have no idea.

    • You’re right! I spoke with a woman once who was in full up stress mode because her husband was going out of town for 3 days. THREE DAYS!!! No idea. I’m sure there are a ton of things I have no idea about as well. You just don’t know some things until you live them.

  • So true. Relating to my children who lived in same town their whole life. My life has been all military, “Brat,Vet,then wife” and loved it. Then there’s retirement after 20+ military then 20+ traveling in private sector. Thanks for posting, it’s great!!

  • My husband was in the Navy for 40 yrs. Yes, 40 yrs.! And I could relate to almost all of the above! I laughed and cried as I was reading this as it brought back so many memories both good and painful! But I couldn’t imagine any other life! Thanks for posting this as a reminder!

  • You sure are popping up all over lately! A friend from Planting Roots shared this on Facebook this morning! I got them all but 12 and 23 surprisingly!! Blessings, liz

  • I so love this! I can relate to nearly everything on here, and then add a few myself. I’m going to pin this on our This Military Life board at Planting Roots and share it on our FB page.

  • Ha, this list had me laughing and crying all at the same time, great job!

    I stumbled across your blog through twitter! It’s always exciting to get connected to other Christian military spouses! I’m off to check out more of your lovely blog!

    • Tiffany, thanks so much for stopping by. It’s great to connect with you. I enjoyed reading through some of your blog as well. I look forward to reading more from you. Have a blessed day!

  • unspeakablejoymccoy

    You are precious and I love this list! I will pray for your upcoming move, dear friend!

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