Best Books for New Military Spouses

What are the best books for new military spouses? We know.

When I married my airman, it was 2006, and I was 19-years-old. As much as I loved my husband, I was still fairly clueless about life in general, without factoring in how much military life complicates a marriage. Fortunately, there were a few books at the time about navigating the military spouse world I was able to read, and I devoured them.

Now, looking around Amazon’s book lists proves the genre has exploded. If you’re a new military spouse, or even a salty one (like me!), there’s some great information out there, and a ton of compelling, interesting and inspiring stories about women and men who love a service member.

So what are my favorites?

Here are the best books for new military spouses.

Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends and Women in Uniform by Meredith Leyva

This was the first book I ever read as a military fiancé, and it was a huge help. I had never even step foot on a military base, and the thought of making a ton of mistakes and getting my husband in trouble terrified me. This book had a gigantic list of acronyms (though, not completely expansive, because that’s nearly impossible), and, the biggest help of all — a sample LES to help me understand his paystub. I have done our taxes and our bills since we tied the knot nine years ago, and I credit that book to helping me get through our first IRS season without pulling my hair out.

The 5 Love Languages Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman

I read the original 5 Love Languages book, and it was such an eye opener! It makes complete sense that what I consider to be gestures of love, my husband may not. The military edition offers much of the same information, but with a military slant, and takes into consideration the unique challenges of a marriage strained by deployments and frequent time spent apart.

Confessions of a Military Wife by Mollie Gross

Ready for some comic relief? Mollie Gross is unapologetically honest about her experiences as a Marine spouse in Confessions. A stand-up comedian and author, she has taken her hilarious, sometimes awkward military spouse situations and published them to make the rest of us feel not-so-silly. With the military lifestyle being so historical, so polished, and so traditional, it’s easy to forget that we spouses are civilians who are just doing the best we can, and sometimes that means we accidentally wash a tube of lipstick with our husband’s PT gear. No, that’s not a true story of mine at all, what makes you say that?

Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families by Karen M. Pavlicin

I hadn’t heard of this one before researching, but after all of the stellar reviews on Amazon, I’m going to be picking it up before the next deployment. According to several shining five-star ratings, Surviving Deployment offers advice, ideas and warnings of things to watch for during a deployment. Geared toward families with and without children, the personal stories and experiences of military spouses who have been there, done that will help you feel at ease. The author has several other books geared toward military families, and works to educate schools, organizations and local government on how they can best support the military community.

Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Charles Preston

Who doesn’t remember emotional nights spent reading the Chicken Soup for the Soul series in all its different varieties as a teen? Now there’s one specifically for military families, and you can bet you’ll need a box of tissues again. For all the tears you shed over these emotional stories, though, the strength and inspiration the storytellers convey in their words is worth the ugly cry. These families have seen the most difficult and emotional parts of the military lifestyle, and from it, they see beauty and strength.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Life as a Military Spouse by Lissa McGrath

Well, it’s right there in the title — this book was clearly meant for me. Actually, it’s still meant for me, as I have a crazy fear that I’m accidentally going to drive somewhere I’m not supposed to while searching for the BX, and end up surrounded by military police. Guys, I’m just looking for the case lot sale! Basically, this is a guide to all those tiny things every other spouse seems to know except you—how to enroll your kids in DEERS, what to do if you need to file your taxes and your spouse is deployed—the big stuff.

These are just six of the dozens of books by and for military spouses out there. If you need help with any aspect of military life, there’s a book out there for you, from raising a family to starting a business to dealing with deployment and PTSD. Military spouses are a lot of things — brave, strong, determined — one thing we don’t have to be is confused.


Rachel Engel

About the Author

Rachel is a freelance writer, blogger and content creator, specializing in military and military family issues, pregnancy and parenting, and relationships. Her work has been featured on and in The Huffington Post,,, Military Spouse magazine, Parenting magazine,, and many other websites and print publications. Follow her on Twitter at @rachel_engel and check out her blog at
  • Pattie

    I would like to add: God Strong: The Military Wife’s Spiritual Survival Guide by Navy wife Sara Horn.

  • Guest

    The Love Languages book is great, and I’m happy to see some general “spouse” books listed. However, many mil spouse books are written only for women, and it’s not subtle: note the pink cover on your top pick. Would love to see some selections hit the shelves that focus on male spouses of military members as well. We all need support and information, but most guys don’t want to pick up a book that excludes them.

    • guest

      Yep. I agree. Personally even as a woman I find the pink cover to be a turn-off and the emphasis on traditional gender norms, which don’t fit lots of men and women to be frustrating.
      We as a community need a lot more inclusion, because so many people are being left in the lurch.

  • Navyjag907

    This is great stuff! These books are so helpful and we didn’t have them back in our day (early ’70s for me and my wife). I began my naval career and my wife had to make a home in the Navy for us and later our children. I had plenty of guidance on a daily basis and my wife had very little information–it was very hard for her.

  • The Love Languages book is great, and I’m happy to see some general “spouse” books listed. However, many mil spouse books are written only for women, and it’s not subtle: note the pink cover on your top pick.