by Sarah Peachey
Making friends is one act that makes life worth living. Your friends are there to support you when needed, to laugh with, to shop with (especially with the ladies) and to bring happiness to every day activities.
It’s never easy moving to a new area when you don’t know anyone. I presently live with my husband at our first duty station since he went active-duty more than three years ago. For the first time, I left everyone I knew to go somewhere unfamiliar, a place where I only knew two people other than my husband (it was a fellow ROTC soldier and his wife). It was a strange experience that morphed into a great one.
Over the last three years, I’ve made some great friends. While some of them have moved on to new assignments in states further away, we still keep in touch and share the ups and downs of our lives.
So how do you make friends through your moves? Here are a few ways.
- Meet your neighbors. This is the easiest place to start. Depending where you live, your neighbors may have a “welcome group” to meet you shortly after you move in. They may arrive with a schedule of upcoming events or with homemade goodies. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t hurt to knock on your neighbors’ doors to introduce yourself. You never know, they might have moved in only a few weeks before you. That was the case with my friend Brittany. She moved into her home the same time I did. We met one day as she was pulling in her driveway.
- Find out if the families on your street host any special events. On my street, we have a Bunco group that meets once a month. All spouses on the street are invited for a night of food, Bunco and meeting new people. Bunco is a dice game where the players sit at tables of four (depending on the number of people attending) and move from table to table. By the end of the game, you could meet every single person that played. You get time to chitchat before, during and after the game, so you’re bound to meet people and make new friends. Even if you’re a seasoned spouse that’s used to moves, set up a Bunco night if you don’t already have one. It will be a great asset to new spouses.
- Volunteer on your installation or in the community. Volunteer work is a great chance to do something good while meeting new people. If you volunteer on post/base, then you know most of the people you work with live on the installation and most likely live the same lifestyle. Even off post you can meet other military spouses.
- Take part in your Family Readiness Group or your branch’s equivalent. I know that FRGs can carry a negative connotation, but if you haven’t tried to be a part of your present FRG, then you don’t really know how it works. The FRG is especially helpful if your husband is gearing up for a deployment. FRGs can host many events during a deployment, so you know the distraction is there if you need it. The FRG was a huge saving grace for me. Six months after I moved here, my husband deployed for a year and I didn’t have many friends yet. My FRG leader, Sherry, told me that if I needed anything, I could always call her. For the first week of the deployment, I was at her house almost the entire day every day. I would hang out with her and her kids and it was nice not being alone. After that, we became very close friends. We even rented a house at the beach together for a week during the middle of our husbands’ deployment.
- Make friends at your job. Your coworkers are people you see every day. You’ll slowly learn about each other and you may find you connect with them. I started working at the installation newspaper when my husband deployed. My coworkers consisted of two fellow spouses, seven veterans and two ladies who grew up with fathers in the military. Everyone in my office could relate to some of what I went through, which doesn’t happen a lot of jobs.
During my husband’s deployment, I made some special friends I’ll always hold dear and never forget, who provided a home for the holidays, Bingo night, Bunco night, weekly dinners and always a listening ear. They provided the escape that all spouses need. I was able to laugh with them during the times I felt like crying.
I will never be able to explain the amazing bond military spouses have. Somehow, without even knowing each other for long, they begin a strong and lasting relationship. It truly is an incredible bond to help through the difficult times and to laugh with during the easy times.