Did you just marry someone in the military? Congrats! Feeling a little culture shock? You're definitely not alone! There are loads of reading lists out there for military spouses, many of which rattle off the same books over and over. Those picks are ok, but we have a few problems with them.
First, they focus on the negative parts of military life, such as deployments and death. Second, they're getting old and outdated, which admittedly happens pretty fast. When I first got married in 2011, the books were about being a military spouse in the 90's, and that was a little helpful, but not a lot, because so much had changed and many acronyms had become meaningless. Likewise, now, there are a bunch of books about being married to a service member in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military does not work the same way now as it did 15 years ago. Third, some of these lists are all about understanding your service member spouse's world, but they don't help YOU! We're all for learning about each branch's heroes, histories, and challenges, but a list of books for military spouses should help the spouses. Some of the books on our list will be specific to the military, but several address key pain points about life in general that tend to be exacerbated by the military lifestyle.
One challenge we encountered when we went to make this list is that we would not recommend the same books to new spouses as we would seasoned spouses. This list is for the new (and probably quite young) military spouse. If you're new to the military community, you might be suffering a little culture shock, homesickness, or loneliness. Even if you're adapting well, you might be struggling to explain it to your family or friends. Read on for our list (in no particular order) of great books to help you embrace your new life.
The links below are affiliate links, so we'll get a small bonus if you use them to order any of these books from Amazon, but we also have a free printable version of this list that you can take to the library!
We've written an overview of The 5 Love Languages here, but for now we will say that it is a very useful lens for looking at your relationships, particularly with your partner. You'll notice that we're showing you two covers. The purple cover is the latest version of the original book, and the other, excessively patriotic one, is the military edition. Either is fine, as they are fundamentally the same book. The military edition has a little extra info in it for showing love to your partner through separations, such as deployments. But the rest is the same, so you really can't go wrong with either book.
There's a lot more, but trust us that it's worth the read. The audiobook is fun; it sounds like a slightly older best friend sharing her hard-earned wisdom. But the print is great, too, because it's easy to refer back to it and you get to enjoy Brown's hilarious (but accurate) doodles.
The advice from Grit can help you live a life you'll love by teaching you to cultivate your passions. Bonus: it's easier to find things to do and make new friends when you move, if you already know what you enjoy and how you'd like to spend your time. By pursuing your own achievements, you'll find yourself a happier and more interesting person in your own right.
We see our classmates from high school being honored for staying with a company for five or ten years, when we know that we likely will never be rewarded for that kind of company loyalty. Or we see college friends gaining prestige in our industry, while we have to do a career reset every time we move.
And then we spend money to feel better.
Maybe we buy a new car that we can't afford, too. Or we buy $300 of Halloween decorations to make up for the childhood we wish we could give our kids (even though theirs can be pretty awesome). Or maybe we put up $5000 to join an MLM we don't really believe in, so we can feel like successful business owners, too (not knocking MLM's, but they aren't for everyone). Love Your Life, Not Theirs is about money habits (which is important), but it's also about gratitude and contentment, and we all need a bit more of that.
This picture is no longer accurate (if it ever was), and many families have two income-earners. Spouses don't just wait at home, writing letters while their partner is away. We work, pursue degrees, start businesses, join clubs. No matter what your situation or life goals, Modern Military Spouse was written for you.
Rental Style (and other books like it) also includes lessons on buying furniture and homewares secondhand to save money.
Brianna's Public Service Announcement to Newly Married Military Couples: You DO NOT have to buy a house with $0 down, just because you can get a VA loan! You also DO NOT have to buy enough furniture for your entire house or apartment at 20% interest just so you can host Thanksgiving! Don't do it! Learn about thrift stores and find your own style!
These are just a few examples of common boundary issues military couples struggle with when they're first married. The great thing about boundaries is that they're personal and you can decide where your boundaries are. The tough thing about boundaries is that they're personal, and it's up to you to decide where yours are. Boundaries (the book) will help you begin to learn about boundaries, how they work, and how to set them up for yourself and your marriage.
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
Let's keep in touch!