February 28, 2021

Things new military spouses should know

Woman Talking to her Friend


New to being a military spouse? In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Polinsky interviews Ashlee, a previous military spouse, on things she wished she had known before marrying into the military.



  • The importance of having a support system 
  • Choosing your support system wisely 
  • Benefits of going to a spouse 101 class 
  • Communicating with your spouse


Introduction to Ashlee:Ashlee is 23 at the time of this recording and is a former military spouse.  In this interview, she discusses what she and her ex-husband could have done differently while he was going through a vigorous program in the Navy. Ashlee felt that having a support system is really important–even it is virtual people from your home town.  For Ashlee, she experienced depression and anxiety especially with changes related to moving and military life.​In making new friends after a move, she found that not everyone was supportive. She discusses the importance of being thoughtful about who you talk to and confide in.Having a support system outside of your partner and outside of military spouses can be helpful.  To do this, think about what hobbies you can do in the places where you move. That can help you with adjusting to new places, and provide an avenue for social support outside of your spouse and the military.

Top struggles she faced:Moving away from home was a culture shock. She was pregnant at the time and didn’t know the new area she had moved to. She had to go through her first pregnancy alone without her spouse once she moved to the new place. She relied on relationships as a way to cope, but she didn’t know who would be good people to confide in. She had depression during pregnancy and after pregnancy. There were so many firsts happening at one time for her that she didn’t know how to do them, or know anyone in the area to help her navigate the new situation. 

The most challenging period in time for couples is right after the birth of a first child.”

Elizabeth Polinsky

It was also challenging meeting people and having them move away, so starting a new social support system was difficult.  There can still be drama in military spouse friendships. You want to be aware that what you say may be transferred over to your spouse’s coworker when a friend talks about your discussions to their spouses.  On top of that, some people are mandated reporters and are required to tell higher ups about certain things going on in your relationship if they know about it. 

You have to give people time to earn your trust…test them out first and let the trust build over time”

Elizabeth Polinsky 

She joined a mothers group and that ended up being a great source of support for her. In addition she found that going to a spouse 101 class was helpful. It was also important to know who the ombudsman was.

You can have friends that you do social stuff with…you don’t have to confide in them.”

Paraphrased from Ashlee

Things that would have helped: 

  • Doing my research on who could have helped me during those times
  • Counseling
  • Psychiatrists to prescribe mental health medications  (You can get it from your OBGYN as well if you are postpartum)
  • Using your coping skills 
  • Fleet and Family Services provides counseling when there is no relationship abuse
  • Family Advocacy Programs are great if there is abuse in your relationship 

Elizabeth Polinsky’s tips if you are having difficulty in a marriage: 

  1. Talk about it with your partner. 
  2. Have a monthly relationship meeting where you can discuss how the relationship is going.
  3. Tell your partner about your vulnerable feelings instead of getting critical and defensive. 
  4. Ask your partner when is a good time for them to talk if they seem busy and you feel pressure to get something resolved.
  5. As relationship raw spots and triggers come up, discuss it with each other so you can start avoiding those raw spots. 
  6. Examine your motivations behind criticism and blame. Oftentimes, people push raw buttons in a relationship because they want attention. Couples therapy is what can really help with this pattern. 

If you are in a relationship, you will step on each others toes–it’s unavoidable”

Elizabeth Polinsky
Friends talking to each other

Words of Wisdom from Ashlee: 

  1. Solidify your support system. 
  2. Be secure in what you say, what you do, and how you act as if reflects your military spouse.
  3. Be mindful there are people there to help spouses navigate military life.
    1. Contact your ombudsman.
    2. See links on the base’s facebook page for local resources.
  4. In your marriage, confide in the person you have the issue with first.
    1. They cannot read your mind and they are going through their own struggles as well.  Make sure to sit down and talk to them.

Liz’s Useful Links: 

Podcast Sponsor: The Relate Assessment is the most comprehensive relationship assessment in the world and is based on 10 predictors of marital stability. It’s supported by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is the one my husband and I used during our premarital couples counseling. To get 20% off the assessment, go to https://relateinstitute.com/ and enter “POLINSKY20”.​

Thanks for Listening!


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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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