ROTC: Surviving as a Spouse

Life as an ROTC spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend can be strangely difficult. But also SO fun and rewarding!

Your significant other (S.O) is in college AND in a program to fast-track them to be commissioned as an officer. So they can get pretty busy. Pretty quick.

As an ROTC S.O, you get to (or have to?) take on many roles that may not have been clear when joining. And honestly, most are not crazy difficult. Which is good. But, they do take some time and effort.

Here is your guide to surviving as an ROTC S.O!

Know what to expect

You will get less time with them. This is a given, no matter what school they attend OR branch they are in. Fulfilling the requirements to stay enrolled in the program means taking extra classes, and could also include summer training. For you, do what you can to support their decisions and responsibilities.

Do your best to not complain, especially when they love the program. It can quickly lead to resentment and frustration. However, this can be a tricky one. If it is truly taking up too much time, that is a whole other discussion to have with them. You two will know what is best for your relationship.

On scholarship, your spouse will have their schooling paid for, as well as a monthly stipend which is intended to cover basic living costs. They also sometimes receive money for books and fees. This is a HUGE deal and will be a lifesaver financially. If all goes as planned, the return for the military paying for their schooling is years served in their branch. Do not take this for granted. And spend the money you receive wisely! Put it towards your housing, groceries, gas, etc.

When they are not on scholarship, some branches will still give a monthy stipend once they reach a certain point in the program.

Strengthening your bond

Even though your loved one is committed to the ROTC program, you should still be their number one priority. Take time to strengthen and grow your bond! Go on dates when you can and find ways to show them you love them!

Of course, I’m not an expert. No relationship is perfect, and there will absolutely be bumps. BUT, I know that you should always strive to have a healthy and strong bond with your spouse/SO, regardless of the point of life you are at.

If active duty is in the future for you, this is a PERFECT time to grow closer as a couple. Between moving and separations, your bond will be your rock! ROTC gives you a super small glimpse into what life will be like while on active duty. (I mean the teeniest, tiniest glimpse. Active duty is pretty much a completely different animal.)

Learn basics about their branch

No matter if your spouse is in the Army, Air Force, or Navy/Marines ROTC, there will be so much to learn. Each branch has distinct lingo, a chain of command, uniforms, etc.

I’ve had some embarrassing moments talking with Chase, and even with his commanding officer at the time (yikes!). Pro tip: don’t call uniforms “outfits” and DON’T mix up their branch with another. Obviously, I learned that the hard way.

Learn things like the names of the uniforms, their rank, the ranks of their detachment leadership, and the rules they need to follow while in uniform.

If they continue to active duty, you’ll need at least a basic knowledge of the branch. Otherwise, it might sound like they speak a whole new language! Check out my post about military phrases you should know.

Be flexible

Being part of the military is synonymous with being flexible. And I am still trying to learn this.

Sure, you won’t need to deal with things like deployments and long workdays/workweeks. But the commitment made to the ROTC, especially while on scholarship, requires you to be flexible.

There are rules they need to follow in order to stay in the program. Hair cuts, time commitments, days in uniform, summer trainings…

The best way to handle this is to be willing to be flexible. Recognize that sometimes plans will change. Short term AND long term. Sometimes the only thing you CAN do is let things go and let things be. Luckily, the ROTC commitments aren’t as drastic as active duty, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still difficult.

Make friends

I guarantee you there will be at least one other spouse/S.O in the detachment that you will get along with. For the events you are invited to attend, it is so fun to have at least one familiar face besides your S.O!

Especially during the events where your S.O has duties and responsibilities to attend to. Then you aren’t left alone waiting for them to finish. I’ve been there, and I had a way harder time at those events. It makes it way more enjoyable to see and chat with a friend!

An added bonus? They are in your same shoes! Now, if you need to, you can vent about ROTC all you want.

Enjoy it!

One of my FAVORITE things about having an S.O in ROTC? The military ball! It’s usually held towards the end of the school year, and is always such a blast!

There’s food, dancing, cool speakers, and a chance to chat with those friends you made 😉 It feels rewarding as a mil/ROTC S.O to watch them have fun while also in uniform. It makes all the effort and time feel even more worth it.

Being part of the military makes you different from others. Embrace the difference, and enjoy the experience. The ROTC is a pretty unique program to be involved in, and it gives you a chance to learn more about the military, and appreciate the incredible freedoms we enjoy in this country!


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