An Army Wife's Life

Once upon a time I was a college student, then I was a teacher, and now I'm a mother. Technically, I'm currently a freelance writer... but really I am an ARMY WIFE. Expect to find... funny (at least to me) anecdotes, thoughts about la vida military, hopes, anxieties, dreams, commentaries on current events.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Books for Military Spouses and Wives (Ask Molly)

Hello Molly,

My son is a marine. He is recently engaged and going on his second deployment but the first for his new fiance. Do you have any book recommendations? I would like to get her a book to help from a girlfriend/spouse perspective and a journal for Christmas. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank your husband for his service and Thank you for serving all the important support lines.

Hello! What a thoughtful gift and a great question.

I'm assuming (a poor thing to do, I know) that you want some sort of advice guide, rather than a fictional work or a book of real-life anecdotes. If you were looking for something else, just drop me another line.

When my husband first joined the military, he bought me a copy of The Army Wife Handbook: A Complete Social Guide. I eagerly devoured the information about proper receiving line etiquette and calling card layouts. I can hear the other spouses snickering already. Needless to say, interesting as this was for the traditionalist and historian in me the advice didn't have much practical application in today's military.

So, I searched for another book and narrowed it down to Today's Military Wife: Meeting the Challenges of Service Life and Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and Women in Uniform (the one I chose). Based on other's opinions, I felt that Married to the Military would be the more practical of the two. Amazon now has search inside features for both books, however, so you can check them out.

The reviewers on Amazon seem to have a love-hate relationship with Married to the Military, which I think stems from their feelings towards the author's online community bulletin board, CinChouse. I've never been a part of that board, so I don't quite understand the drama.
I found Married to the Military to be a helpful, if very basic and exclusively female-oriented, guide to life as a Military Spouse. It is an easy-to-browse, clear, and helpful primer for new spouses. If I weren't in the middle of a move, I'd pull it out and be more specific, but I do recall that there were lots of bullet points and call-out boxes for quick reference.

Two new(er) books on the market that look promising are Homefront Club: The Hardheaded Woman's Guide to Raising a Military Family (I'll be reviewing this and giving away a copy in the New Year) and Help! I'm a Military Spouse--I Get a Life Too!: How to Craft a Life for You As You Move With the Military, Second Edition (I hope to be reviewing this one, as well).

The Homefront Club certainly has an appealing title--what? me? hardheaded? And, I've read some columns by Kathie Hightower and Holly Scherer, authors of Help! I'm a Military Spouse and based on those I have high hopes for the book.

In the meantime, since I won't be able to review these before you need to purchase the book, perhaps readers can chime in with their thoughts and suggestions.

Finally, although I'm not personally a huge fan of the series, those who enjoy homespun wisdom, tear-jerking life affirmations, and inspiring anecdotes will get pretty much exactly what they expect from Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul: Stories to Touch the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit. They gave these out at one of our deployment briefings and I know a lot of the spouses appreciated it. So, that's a good option if you know you like this series.

The challenge with these books is that each service, post or base, and even each family is different. In trying to apply to all, the risk is that you are relevant to none. Being a military spouse is really on the job training and she'll hopefully get lots of help from other spouses in her community--or from online communities. However, I do think a book can be a great peak into this lifestyle she is about to enter and a wonderful gift. She's lucky to be gaining such a sweet mother-in-law.

Please let us know which one you pick and your thoughts once you browse it, too!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!


PS: The links above are for the books at Amazon. Also, if you plan to buy online, I have a coupon code for Barnes and Noble: Click HERE to save 25% on one item at Barnes&Noble.com. Use coupon code N6R7C4J. (expires 12/18/07)

And by the way, I know you already have experience, but many parents have found AUSA's Guide for Parents of Deployed Soldiers helpful, and it may have some information that is useful for a Marine Mom as well: Your Soldier, Your Army ( you can download for free as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file; available in Spanish, too!)

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