It always makes me laugh when I see any sort of article that talks about the biggest stressors in life, such as moving or starting a new job. And then I find myself thinking that I cannot believe that we, my husband and I, have tackled these life stressors (and then some) so many times and have lived to tell the tale. And most importantly, our marriage is still intact!
Now, are we some super couple that is perfect all of the time? Just ask my husband and he would definitely say no. Now, one advantage that we had was that he was not in the Navy when we got married. It was nowhere even on the radar. When the opportunity to join the Navy became a real deal, we discussed it together. We like to say we joined the Navy together!
But regardless of your situation, a Navy marriage is far from easy, and PCS moves are high on the stress list. Here are my best tips for how to get through it:
Take one bite at a time
Fast forward to our first move. We said goodbye to our parents and family and headed across the country to duty station number one. Within a few days of getting there, our dog ran away and I was devastated. Next came all of the boxes and all of the paper. I had never seen so many boxes in my life and I questioned why every item was wrapped in paper! I was sitting on our bed (minus the bedding because I couldn’t find it!) and I just started to sob. Everything hit me at that moment and I was a mess. I didn’t know where to start. I missed my dog and my family, I was now jobless, and we were starting on an unknown journey. It was just too much! I distinctly remember my husband coming in the room and telling me that it was going to be okay. We only needed to unpack one box at a time.. He said the right thing at the right moment. His calm, understanding demeanor got me through that rough patch. Whew, because it was rough, and I never even found my dog! So take a deep breath and tackle one bite at a time.
Gather knowledge and skills with each move
Seven moves later and we have learned so much! Over the years there will be more moves to come, and you will gather knowledge and skills each time. By now some of you may have a binder, a thorough moving system or superhero organizing skills. I definitely have turned into a check-list queen! But the moment that moving truck pulls away is when reality sets in. You’ve worked hard to prepare and now all you can do is get to that new place you will call home! Sometimes visits with family and friends are involved along the way, sometimes moving turns into a vacation of sorts, and sometimes you have to get to the next place as fast as humanly possible. We’ve encountered all of these scenarios, and guess what? It’s still stressful!
Discuss your expectations
Nothing can bring out the worst in a husband and wife than a move! What my husband and I have learned is that through it all you have to give each other some grace. I recognize my husband can be one of those “hangry” people and I’ll pack extra snacks in his vehicle. He recognizes that I need a little time all by myself each day to stay sane and he doesn’t make me feel guilty for doing so. I can tell when he needs me to deal with kids and I don’t hold a grudge that he’s not helping enough. He knows that I cannot drive over 500 miles in a day and he doesn’t get irritated when I reach my drive limit! It would be easy to get mad and to be resentful but that’s not giving him grace. Have conversations beforehand about expectations about the role you’ll each play in the move. Here are some conversation starters:
1. Who is handling kids and pets along the way? Will you take turns?
2. What is the route to the destination? Do hotels need to be reserved along the way? Who will do that?
3. Who holds the clipboard and checks of items and who directs where items go while unpacking?
4. Do you have a code word for when you need a mental break for yourself or from your spouse?
5. What makes you the most anxious about moving and what can my spouse do to help?
Some things go easy for couples and some things which might seem the easiest can be a big barrier. You will need whatever extra patience you can muster to make it through! There may be more giving than taking and that is okay. Remember, there is a reason you married this sailor and nothing, not even a Navy move, can make that love waiver!
What tips do you have for PCS moves? Comment below!