Today’s military spouses face a unique set of challenges, from deployments to finding a portable career. MilSpouse Mondays is a weekly series dedicated to tackling some of the biggest challenges today’s military spouses are facing. Each week, Meditec will feature a unique guest to share their experiences as a MilSpouse and offer a new perspective on the military spouse experience. This week’s guest is Corie Weathers, a licensed professional counselor, author, podcast host, and winner of the prestigious Military Spouse of the Year award. Corie continues to dedicate her time to helping military families around the world overcome their fears and realize their potential. You can read our interview with Corie below: Corie, can you provide a brief overview your experience as a military spouse? We have been in the military for around 10 years of Active Duty- and a couple of years reserve before that. We didn’t always know that we wanted to be in the military, but feel it is a perfect fit for us! My husband is an Active Duty Army Chaplain. We have moved six times and are expected to move next summer and have two boys (11 and 14). We have been through 2 deployments, both to Afghanistan. One of our deployments included a historic battle where two of our soldiers were awarded Medal of Honors. Two movies are coming out in the next year about that battle. As a military spouse, I have had to learn to be creative with my career because a license to practice therapy is limited by state lines and standards. Like many military spouses, I have struggled to maintain jobs, started and stopped many times, and experienced the discouragement of failed interviews as a military spouse. Learning to be creative and becoming my own advocate has given me the chance to have a rich career that is both rewarding and successful. In 2015, you won Military Spouse of the Year and used your platform to travel the world and advocate for mental health issues. How has this experience of winning such a respected award and meeting so many brave active duty members overseas impacted you? It wasn’t until I won the award, that I realized that military spouses frequently serve wherever they are needed and often go unnoticed. Military spouses volunteer, jump in, and support their communities without hearing the simple words “thank you.” The award was a very public “thank you“ that I did not expect. One I didn’t realize I needed. I vowed that day that I would thank as many military spouses as I could throughout my experience of traveling and visiting with military families. Traveling has also given me the opportunity to meet with service members of all branches and even travel overseas to see deployment conditions – opening my eyes to so much of what my own service member tried to communicate to me yet I couldn’t understand. I was able to open my perspective to some of the sights and smells of deployment that so few family members get the chance to experience. I was also able to see the branches working together in a way families rarely see. We tend to only have the experience of our own branch and at a single installation. To see how the Air Force supports the Army or the Navy supporting the Air Force was eye-opening. Watching a service member truly do what they love and are called to do- with a spark in their eye even on deployment at Christmas- made me realize how much more I needed to give my own husband permission to love what he “gets” to do. This is a message I try to bring to other families- that we “get” to be in this lifestyle rather than seeing it as a burden. This experience has made me a better wife, mother, and advocate for military families that I am beyond grateful for. As a licensed professional counselor with over 15 years of experience, you’ve devoted countless hours to providing therapy to military families around the world, helping them control their emotions and make it through hard times. What are some of the most common challenges that you’ve helped military families overcome throughout your years as a counselor? Each person and military couple is unique in the challenges they face. We all want to grow personally as well as have our marriage succeed. Yet, there are some common issues that every military marriage struggles with. I see a lot of couples experiencing distance or disconnection in their relationship because of deployments and military separations. When a couple spends a significant period of time apart from each other, they are going to grow and change in positive and negative ways before they come back together. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be invited into a couple’s life and story. Helping couples communicate the significant experiences they’ve had while apart and then help them feel more connected is one of my greatest joys. Sometimes a couple needs the encouragement that they are healthier than they thought and have more strengths to pull from than they expected. Of course, there are other challenges I commonly see in our community such as pornography, infidelity, adrenaline seeking behaviors, and financial problems. Every couple is different, but I believe you can redeem and restore your relationship if you are both willing to do the hard work. If I can be a part of reducing the stigma of mental health and counseling services, then I hope it will save more families. I believe saving your marriage also saves your children and your family tree. You’re the host of a podcast called Lifegiver, which features interviews with other military spouses and explores the confusing world of being a part of a military family. What inspired you to start this podcast and what do you enjoy most about it? Part of having a career as a military spouse is learning how to be creative and make your career portable. As a licensed professional counselor, I am often bound by state lines to do counseling only in states where I have a license. Shortly after I won the Military Spouse of the Year award, we moved to another location where I did not have a license to practice. Rather than ending my career, I decided to be creative.
[bctt tweet="Rather than ending my career, I decided to be creative."]
When I worked with families behind confidential closed doors, I found there were so many similar themes and commonalities with my clients. So many people were struggling with the same topics and issues, whether it was forgiveness, courage in reaching out after a move, developing self-esteem, parenting, as well as wanting to feel they were not alone. I started the podcast as a way of addressing the topics that I saw in my counseling office but with a wider reach. The energy that I would put forth towards one family and one counseling session was now magnified by a podcast episode that could reach thousands. By addressing the topics that I saw in most families, it became my mission to encourage as many families as possible. Adding interviews with service members, military spouses, or other guests has allowed me to share the stories of other people on the show. I believe we all have a story, and the best stories are those who have gone through significant struggle and have found their way back to hope again. Although I know that life will always bring additional struggle, it is always encouraging to hear that someone has gone before you and found a way through their darkest moments. It is so rewarding to get emails from those that listen to the show feeling encouraged by someone else’s story who was brave enough to tell it. Your book, Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage, exposes the brutal truth about the ups and downs of military marriages. What advice do you have for other MilSpouses that are experiencing similar marital obstacles as you and your husband did during the writing of this book? When I was writing Sacred Spaces, I knew that my message was a risky one. After counseling military spouses for many years, I knew (and felt myself) that we were an exhausted community. We had maxed out our energy on the relationships around us. What I learned during my trip overseas with the Secretary of Defense, was that there was still more I could do in my marriage. I had grown too accustomed to the distance that existed between my husband and I, simply because I had accepted that we would live parallel lives of not understanding each other. Although our marriage was not in shambles, I knew we could be closer than we were. We just didn’t understand each other‘s world. He did not know what it was like to be at home raising kids during deployments, and I didn’t know how to return to America after zipping your friends up in body bags.
[bctt tweet="What I learned during my trip overseas with the Secretary of Defense, was that there was still more I could do in my marriage"]
My trip showed me how much he enjoyed his job and how important it was to him. I believe he also saw my perspective back at home. It turns out, we just needed to slow down enough to see each other a little better. I knew that was a message that others could benefit from as well. I also started to see how important it was for me to respect and value what brought joy to his life. We didn’t have to fully understand everything about our separate worlds for us to find each other again. So, my message to military couples was a big one: that we should never stop pursuing our marriage and our spouse. Saying that to a military spouse who is already tired was risky, but I knew it was right. Sacred Spaces offers readers an inside look into my vulnerable journey to pursue my husband and see myself and our marriage differently. There is an epidemic in our military spouse culture today. Military spouses are weary from decades of rapid tempo deployments and training. Military life is difficult and there is no way around it. Military spouses living through years of exhaustion and disconnect find themselves in a resentful place of being tired, lonely, and behind on their self-care. Yet military spouses don’t know where to put their resentment when it doesn’t make sense to blame their spouse or the military – so they hold it inside What I tell many, and what readers will find from Sacred Spaces, is that while we must embrace the difficulty of this lifestyle, it is also why we have a depth of character and grit that makes us incredibly strong. My encouragement, is for military spouses to pursue their marriage and close the gaps of disconnection by listening to their spouse while also taking better care of themselves. You truly can find your way back to a healthier relationship and open up new communication with your spouse! We at Meditec want to thank Corie for taking part in MilSpouse Mondays. You can stay up to date with Corie on Twitter and through her website. Also, be sure to check back next week for another installment of MilSpouse Mondays, presented by Meditec. Missed last week’s interview with Tiffany Smiley? You can check that out by clicking here. About Meditec Meditec is a career training site specifically designed to help America’s military spouses succeed professionally, regardless of where life takes them. Our accredited, affordable, MyCAA-approved courses are centered around career opportunities that allow individuals to work from home or on the road. Not only that, but we also guide military spouses throughout the MyCAA process, helping them earn scholarships to put towards career advancement programs.