You Know She’s a Military Spouse When …


Once upon a time, I was in my personal Military Spouse Utopia. Living on two different military installations for five consecutive years had me surrounded by similar souls, help at every turn, and kids for my boys to play with in every direction.

So when we moved to a house in Northern Virginia far from the gate there was a bit of adjustment. It was hard to all of sudden not be with people like me.  I wondered — how do I find another military spouse to commiserate with me the pitfalls of military life?

It was very easy to pick out the military member while sitting out at swim practice; a haircut can pretty much scream “Hoo-RAH” without anyone uttering a word and most service members have a certain carriage.  But finding kindred MilSpouse souls was a bit more difficult.

That is, until I opened my eyes and ears and began to notice the subtle and not so subtle signs of MilSpouses all around.

So how do you spot a military spouse from a mile away?

You know she’s a military spouse when …

– Her car is located in Virginia, has Texas license plates and has a sticker in the  back window for a high school in Alabama.

–  Her kids reply with “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” and you aren’t in the deep south

–  She is well versed in Murphy’s Law and has no desire to ever meet Murphy.

– Her overheard conversations include phrases such as “When we lived Germany…,” “…well then I told Tricare…,” and ”…blah blah blah, TDY, blah blah…”

– She has no idea who to use for haircuts and dentists, but can point you in the right direction for the nearest Sam’s, Costco, Home Depot, Ikea, and U-Haul.

– She has dark green commissary reusable grocery bags mixed in with ones from Publix, Fresh Market, and Trader Joe’s.

– At a potluck her food is brought in a Polish Pottery dish.

– You never see her spouse.

– Her Christmas ornaments are from all over the dang place.

– She has a lifetime supply of Vitamin M (Motrin), in both liquid form and the pill variety.

– She has  Longaberger recipe card holder next to a Partylite candle.

– She is not always the most fashionable. Her money goes instead to a massive replacing of every family member’s wardrobe from one that worked in North Dakota to clothes more suited for Florida.

– She is constantly checking for her ID.

– All of her pens are from USAA or a military credit union — or are those cheap black ones with the gold lines that never seem to work.

What helps you identify another military spouse?

About the Author

Married to her high school sweetheart/AD Air Force man, Heidi was initially reluctant to life as a dependent, finally drank the Kool-Aid, and has since embraced being an active Air Force spouse. With a background in sports medicine, she has no real reason to write other than she enjoys it and likes to get others thinking. Heidi enjoys at-will employment as a substitute teacher, serving as an Arlington Lady, mothering two boys, rehabbing their short sale home purchase, recovering from a case of volunteeritis, correcting her verb tense, and learning more acronyms.

52 Comments on "You Know She’s a Military Spouse When …"

  1. This is so true!! Now being on a Joint Base it's fun to guess which base the car in front of us came from based on the license plate. Or if your at the school book fair and the USAA checkbook comes out – that leads to a where did you guys come from and isn't USAA AWESOME!!

  2. This cracked me up but the best laugh was the credit union pens. I have a bag of about 100 pens "Mr. Hart" has collected. Sigh…

  3. I am slowly working on my pen collection, but sadly there isn't another military spouse around here (except for in the other branches, and sadly, they don't want to play for some reason). We are hours away from the closest base. But now I can be more alert and on the lookout!

  4. Lee's father | February 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

    Some 'tells' never change. They just get psssed down from one generation to the next.

  5. Don't forget the "This isn't a POV, it's a Ford"

  6. sabrinacking | February 21, 2013 at 7:04 am |

    Or…you can tell how many times you've moved by looking under the dining table and counting how many stickers there are ;)

  7. Heather Grant | February 26, 2013 at 3:56 am |

    Hahaha! This is so true. Esp. the clothes not being fashionable bc we are always in a different climate. The pens… I was using the black with the gold stripes at my desk as I read this. Nearly the entire pen jar is full of them, lol. Oh, and "You never see her spouse" cracked me up!

  8. Shell Porter | February 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

    She will be one of the toughest, strongest and most independent women you will ever meet.

  9. Love it!! Had to laugh at the ones that were true in my life.

  10. If you see a lady with a bunch of kids that seem to be all the same age, thats a good sign!

    Love the "You never see her spouse" Its soooo true!

  11. You know she's a military wife when she recalls major life events by which duty station they were assigned to… "We bought that car in Alaska, so that was 2001… Catherine was born at Fort Hood, so that was 1995… She caught the chicken pox while we were stationed in Hawaii, so that was 2006."

  12. You know she's a military wife because she is usually dressed in some sort of sweats and overweight. This is what you'll see at fort bliss.

    • HARDWORKING-SAWH | February 27, 2013 at 11:05 am |

      That's the opposite at the Post I'm at. The ladies here in Monterey dress to the nines to go to the commissary! I'm like, okay lady you have a kid on your hip and you are wearing a a cocktail dress and 3 inch high heels. And I slink around in jeans and a cute top thinking I look presentable!

      • Monterey, CA? I loved that assignment! SO beautiful there. But I'm with you; jeans and a cute top is perfectly fine!

  13. The sex of the author does not play a role in this article because the article is not aimed at "female military spouses" and matters specific to that group but rather military spouses in general.

    I know you do not understand but the world of the male military spouse can be a very lonely and difficult one.

    Articles such as this only serve to make the problem worse.

    As a military spouse I expect support from my fellow military spouses, not callous, insensitive, blatantly sexist alienation.

    • I missed the reply to my first comment and cannot delete this one.

      Please forgive me and ignore.


    • Joseph…as someone who used to work in a male dominated field, with all my immediate co-workers male, and with all my athletes male, I know just how alienation feels. I also learned how pronouns should not be taken personally. That was not the intent of the post, it was not intended to be insensitive, and some of the ideas are true if you switch to He/His. Help us know how to spot male spouses and give us some ideas!

  14. NavyWifeMrsHookes | February 27, 2013 at 12:02 am |

    Wow,this is so us.I love it!!We always put our men and our family first!! ;)

  15. Mrs. L.M. Foster | February 27, 2013 at 6:03 am |

    Yes , it is not very hard to find us,I am a widow after 29 years. Our ears are always open, eyes always looking, for what? for that special sound and/or look of the Military; I am Army,


  17. I also think this should be in there:
    "Her purse is filled with everything you need for the day, from hand sanitizer to snacks "

    Or at least something along those lines!

    • So true. My civilian friends (heck, even my husband) make fun of me for how much "crap" I carry in my purse. But guess who's the first person they ask for something when they need it? Mmm hmm, the "crazy" gal with the 10-pound purse! ;)

  18. sabrinacking | March 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

    How is being an ass working out for you in life?

  19. Visiting someones home and noticing the different colored PCS stickers on everything! It took me years to get rid of those things and I still run into one here and there!

  20. Hi Joseph — This post was written by a female who is looking for female friends. She isn't looking for malespouse friends, so this isn't a post about how to spot a male spouse. But we would LOVE to run one that is. Interested in writing it? Hit us up via our "contact us" page and we promise to respond right away.

  21. I understand your frustration. However, women operate differently then men do. The fact she is a woman and a MilSpouse means that it will be easier for her to identify with another female MilSpouse. To be honest, in 13 years I have really only met one male military spouse and I did not meet him until earlier this year. For the most part, male or female, we have the same complaints and agree with a lot of the same things. Again though, women operate differently than men do. While it is nice to have spouse support by both sexes, for a woman it is nice to know we have female friends that have the same thing in common. Men also handle certain stresses differently than women do. You can not fault the author for writing this about what she knows.

    I would like to read an article like this but written from a males stand point. I think you should write one similar to this. It would be fun to see how we differ. I also think you should write an article about the alienation of male military spouses. I believe it is out there and it happens and maybe you can throw out some ideas on how to bridge the gap between male and female spouses!

  22. I agree. A crucial characteristic of a military spouse is to be resilient. Joseph show us how resilient you are. Don't complain unless you have an idea for a solution.

  23. Why would a woman milspouse not want male friends? I'll take any friends I can get. I can't be throwing people away because of their gender. How sexist.

  24. How is this true? I am a woman and I have yet to figure out why women insist they are SOOO different than men. I mean beyond equipment. Maybe this is because I have always worked in a male dominated field and so I was never taught to be enough of a woman to fit in with ya'll?
    Frankly, men make amazing friends. Fresh perspectives are so helpful and they don't hold grudges the way women do, which is awesome.
    Give guys a chance.

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