What I Learned at the Spouse Summit

spouse summit 2014

You know that crazy awesome feeling of inspiration and new-leaf-ness you get when you attend the Spouse Experience? The Spouse Summit is like that, only amped up on coconut cupcakes, coffee and a really great #sweatcheck. Which is why it takes us awhile to process how awesome the whole thing was because literally, for days, we just walk around in this mind-bending euphoria of “ohmygoshthatwasamazing.” It’s so great we even invent words for it.

Which is why we also think it’s important to sit back and do an After Action Report on the whole thing. Because maybe you didn’t get to go. Or maybe you’re still in the Haze of Amaze yourself. Either way, one thing is for certain: There are four things we learned at this year’s Spouse Summit we’ll never forget.

And they’re all too good not to share.

You Can Rock if You Want To

Major scandal. Major weight problems. Major ambition – and a military life. When it comes to challenges, we know real spouses face them. And to see some of our own face them and come out kicking, landing on top, and making the world their oyster? I’m still reeling.

Kris Johnson taught us all about conquering the gossip and going head-long and heart-first into changing the way Congress looks at benefits. She’s that woman you look at and think deep down, “If she can do that, I know I can do this.” It doesn’t even matter what your this is.

LaToya Moore-Boyles showed us how she took her talent and passion for making toys – quite literally, for making accessories for every kind of doll your kid could possibly think of – into a full-time business. One in which she’s now employing her husband. Can you even imagine! The thing is, she told us, it’s actually not that crazy. Not when you mix passion, planning, hard work, and patience.

El Brown lost 100 pounds in less than a year while literally crowd-sourcing support on Facebook – and she knows you can too. She taught us the power of positive peer pressure and how with the support of a dozen (or a thousand!) friends you didn’t know you have, you can accomplish anything. What’s your goal? Get active. Do it. And make sure you’ve got your friends around you.

Making Friends IS Networking

All those friends you need around you? Yeah, those are the folks you met here. Awesome women and men who are dedicating their lives to service, family, and their own big dreams. Say hi. Introduce yourself. Exchange emails. Stay in touch. Each one is a connection that can help you pursue your goals small and big – from starting your own business to losing that weight or, on the larger scale, making the kind of change #keepyourpromise is all about.

Change IS Happening – and We Can Handle It

Speaking of promises, we talked about those, too. We ranked the benefits we have and talked openly – with ourselves and the Brass – about what we need and what we can’t live without. We heard from the people fighting to protect them. And we talked about that scary specter of Transition… and how there’s nothing to really be afraid of. Why? Transition is all about planning and family readiness. And if there’s anything military spouses are great at, it’s those two things.

I Said I Would, So I Will

At the end of the summit, we all sat down and made a list of the things we’re going to do. The plans to email, call, connect, or volunteer. To #sweatcheck or breathe deep or turn a hobby into a real job. To super-power our networks and to navigate our job searches. To be there for our spouses after work and be there for ourselves in our own dreams. To do whatever it takes to live our best military lives.

We said we would, and we will. And we’ll be here for each other the whole way. That’s really the best takeaway from the Spouse Summit: We’re here. For each other. Our best military life isn’t a contest. It isn’t a competition. It’s an arm-in-arm journey we take together – and it’s better for it.

About the Author

Raleigh Duttweiler
Raleigh Duttweiler is a writer and social media expert living just outside the gates of MacDill in sunny Saint Petersburg, Florida. A Marine Corps wife, she has navigated the stress of Active Duty moves, trainings, and deployments, and now that her family has transitioned to the Reserves, she's experiencing the "weekend warrior" side of military life. (NB: It's not quite as part-time as advertised.) When not writing about benefits and military families, Raleigh posts here about truly life-altering, important issues like What Not to Wear to a Military Ball (visible thongs), Military Halloween Costumes We Love to Hate (ones that generally resemble both military uniforms AND thongs), and how to pack awesome care packages. She is passionate about spouse employment, higher education, and helping families navigate the often-bumpy transition back into civilian life. Raleigh also manages the SpouseBUZZ and Military.com Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, so be sure to say hi!
  • zedvector

    How many male civilian spouses were there? My active duty wife said go, I told her no way. In six years, and 5 moves I have run into a 5 or 6 other male civilian spouses, one I call a friend. My wife’s service has crushed my career but I am a very happy and we are well adjusted. No complaingts here, I wouldn’t change being the at home dad for the world. I wish all males were as fortunate to experience what most moms go through, the working world would definitely be a break compared to being the at home parent!! Anyway, did you see any male spouses?

  • jacey_eckhart

    I’m sorry you didnt come! We always have a few male spouses at our events. This time we had three. I always wonder if they realize what a difference they make in a group? We need their input so that we can understand some of the nuances being a male spouse. Next time say yes!