Helping Your Military Spouse Clients Laugh

Veteran House.Considering that nearly three-million soldiers have deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, your practice has likely included working with military spouses.  And if that is the case, you are likely aware that being a military spouse can be as difficult as actually being in the military. The person is forced to make countless sacrifices, endure what may seem to be senseless rules and regulations and push their limits of flexibility to the max.

If your client has been a military spouse for any length of time, they have heard the phrase “the mission comes first” a thousand times.  It is possible that they have moved so much they sometimes forget which address to use when mailing a letter.

If they are like most military spouses, they have spent at least one Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in a mess hall. And undoubtedly, they have participated in their fair share of “mandatory fun” events requiring them to listen to war stories from people they hardly know.

It is certainly not my intent to make light of the many sacrifices of military spouses. Some of your clients have a husband or wife in harm’s way right now.  And most every one of them has experienced the challenges associated with deployment separation. I have never envied the job of a military spouse.

My intent is to help you help keep your client’s sanity by helping them keep their sense of humor.  Remind them to weep for the sad things, but laugh for the funny things. Encourage them to worry when it is necessary, but find humor in those situations that are ridiculous. The lives of your military spouse clients are serious enough as it is. In keeping with this intent, below are a few statements that may help you relate to some of their struggles and share a laugh with them.

You Know You’re a Military Spouse When:

  • You schedule a play date for 1300 instead of 1 o’clock.
  • Your oldest child’s first words were “roger that” or “aye aye.”
  • You know that the phrase “living on the economy” isn’t a verse from a George Strait song.
  • You have to explain to your non-military friends that HOOYAH isn’t the Costco brand of chocolate milk.
  • You know that DEERS isn’t the plural of Deer.
  • You know the difference between “post” and “base.”
  • You tell your kid’s teacher to “standby” during a parent-teacher conference while you take a call from your spouse.
  • You know what an LES is and how to read it.
  • You know your husband or wife’s social security number, but not your own.
  • You know the pros and cons of a partial versus a full DITY move.
  • You once (or twice) gave your kids MREs for dinner because you were too tired to cook.
  • You have at least one piece of furniture in your home right now that has a colored moving sticker on it.

Here Are A Few More

▪ You can’t get to your kid’s bike in the garage because of all the moving boxes.

▪ You pull out your military ID card at Target to prove you can shop there.

▪ Your one-year old thinks his or her dad lives in the computer.

▪ Your six-year old has travelled to more parts of the world than the average diplomat.

▪ You use acronyms that you actually know for what the letters stand.

▪ You are excited that your new television is “really heavy” because it will get you more money during your next move.

▪ You try to rush off post/base (because you are late) so you do not have to stop for retreat.

▪ Your best furniture is covered in scratches.

▪ You know that having an “I love me” wall, room or space is not conceited but a great way to put your memories “front and center.”

To reiterate, the life of a military spouse is tough work. It takes a certain type of man or woman to endure the uncertainties and strains associated with the lifestyle.  But, you can be a bright light in their lives by helping them appreciate the sacrifices they make while bringing some laughter into their lives at the same time.


* This article was adapted from a previous article written by Dr. Moore for his column “Kevlar for the Mind.”



Helping Your Military Spouse Clients Laugh

Bret Moore, Psy.D.

Dr. Moore is a board-certified clinical psychologist and prescribing psychologist in San Antonio, TX. His recent book Taking Control of Anxiety: Small Steps for Getting the Best of Worry, Stress, and Fear was developed as a self-help guide for people struggling with anxiety and for therapists to use with their patients. Dr. Moore is also coauthor of the Handbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for Therapists-Ninth Edition and Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology Made Simple-Fourth Edition.


APA Reference
Moore, B. (2016). Helping Your Military Spouse Clients Laugh. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Nov 2016
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