- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: Welcome to Your New “Normal”

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Boys Town

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You would like to think that things will be different one day.


Surely, at some magical point down the highway of your adventure-filled military life, you will swap out an uncertainty-filled existence for one with blessed clarity.


You won’t have to wait endlessly for orders telling you where your next home will be. You’ll already have one where you want it and you’ll be able to afford it, too.


You won’t have to worry about simultaneously timing for multiple major life events. Your spouse will have a great job after successfully transitioning from the military. You will have a great job, too - one that offers you ample opportunity for advancement and meaningful employment. Your kids will be socially and academically adjusted in an award-winning school that boasts an unusually high number of full-ride scholarship recipients. You’ll drive a cherry-red Porsche (while we’re dreaming here...why not?). It’s true. You would like to think that things will be different one day.


        Post-Uniform Life

Not trying to be a buzz-kill here, but both personal and professional experience tells me not to hold my breath and maybe you shouldn’t hold yours either.


As your family transitions out of the military, circumstances will, of course, be different. Don’t kid yourself though. One set of worries will ultimately be exchanged for another set and your new normal will feel oddly familiar.


So, how do you handle the remixed uncertainties that come with your new “normal”?


Whether you are going through the military-to-civilian career transition process or you are already well-entrenched in that post-uniform life at any stage of the game, refer to these survival strategies as needed:


Channel your inner yogi. Your current position in life may feel downright unnatural. You may feel like you don’t belong or you aren’t sure exactly how all the pieces are going to ultimately fit together. Change can create tension within and around us. When the tensions are high, call upon your inner yogi to calm you. Focus on correct form. Hold the relaxed pose as long as you can and breathe rhythmically, in and out. Breathing is good.


Google the serenity prayer. Accept the things you cannot change. Have the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference. The basics of the Serenity Prayer have been around for a long time and with good reason. They make excellent sense to anyone in transition at any stage of life. If the words themselves don’t bring you comfort, maybe a weekend of R&R in the Heath, Mass., cottage where the prayer was originally penned will. Apparently, the Serenity Stone Cottage is real and open for year-round vacation rentals. Who knew?!


Embrace the changes in your life. Things never stay the same. Even in the active-duty military life you came to know and love or not, change was the one thing could count on. Good thing you have all that practice in adapting, because it will come in handy now, too.


Troubleshoot the possible outcomes. Try as hard as you’d like to, you won’t be able to plan for every contingency. You can, however, identify those things most likely to occur. If it gives you a needed illusion of control over your destiny, troubleshoot the potential ways forward for that peace of mind.


Janet Farley is the author of “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Inc., 2012). Read her new blogs Life’s Too Short to Hate Your Job and Resume Rx.


Return to January/February 2014 Issue