Forces chatter

Hello and welcome to Forces Chatter

This website is here to help everyone who is the mother of, married to or a friend of someone in the Forces. Written by Judith Bray, author of two self-help guides to surviving life with a family member on the Front Line, the advice and chat contained within this website is all free. Life today is tough for the families of our British servicemen and women. It seems as if they are either away, training to be away or returning from being away. You will laugh, moan and cry. But you can make the most from all of the “positives” so they surpass the negatives. Happiness is infectious and so why not try and pass it on. Select and read the bits relating to your predicament, which can be many and if you have anything you would like to share then pop into the the chat room or forum and help someone else out.

Having an insight into how and why things happen, what to expect, how to do things and the emotional problems that envelop you is a large part of being able to cope with your battle at home. All of this is relevant whether you are a mum, dad, wife, husband, partner, sibling, any other family member or a friend. This is a helping hand to get you through various situations that may or may not occur during your Forces life and while your loved one is deployed. You hope the tour will run smoothly without any problems but we all know how unpredictable life can be. This is an online mix of advice from other parents, wives and girlfriends to help strengthen the good things as well as help for the downsides. Most of all it is here to help you like but with Keep smiling

Everyday Life

Everyday life in the Forces is like riding the Big Dipper (We talk a lot about the emotional rollercoaster within this website) All the amazing ups and equally large downs! Whether you choose to throw yourself into the life completely, choose to live in your own accommodation, the minute you become involved with someone in the Forces, everything changes. You have just joined a club. A big old family of people all going through the same emotional waves as you, that others don’t and probably will never understand.

What families think of service life now has not really changed much over the last 60 years. If you spoke to families serving after the war they would say the same as most of us. There is a real sense of adventure in moving around and seeing the world, and in good times the friends and social life is unbeatable. Not to mention the immense sense of pride you get when standing next to your man or woman in uniform. The one thing that has changed over recent years is the sheer amount of time they are away. Deployments seem to follow deployments and the casualty lists keep on growing. It’s terrifying for families back home. Somehow you have to try and balance the good with the bad and remember that this is what they want to do, this is the life they have chosen. There is no point pretending that it’s not going to be extremely difficult but when things go right for you, it will be the best. It always makes me laugh when people say “oh, you knew what you were getting yourself into” – how on earth could we have ever known that?!

Living in Service Accommodation : If you decide to move around and life in service accommodation then you will have to prepare yourself and your children for a very turbulent lifestyle. Aside from the fact that most married quarters are extraordinarily ugly and run down, there are a lot of positives in being part of “patch” life and being surrounded by people who are going through the same things as you. Quite often you are living near people of your own age and the social life can be brilliant. There are times though when the goldfish bowl becomes too much and it can put a real strain on your relationships. As a service person you are paid 365 days a year and oh boy does it feel like it. As a partner, you can easily feel second best to work. It’s not easy to see families around you enjoying a barbecue on a hot summer’s night while you sit on your own wondering why they are working AGAIN.

If you are having a hard time then why not pop along to our Chat Room or post a note in the Forum. See what other families have done to cope. There will always be someone who has been through it before. Living in Your Own Accommodation. There is a lot to be said to living in your own house, dipping into Mess life when you fancy it and enjoying all the “good bits”. You will be able to maintain some stability for all the family and most importantly………… no magnolia walls!

You do however, then enter the world of weekly commuting and can spend more time getting home than you actually spend at home. When they deploy you won’t have the same support of being around neighbours and friends going through the same difficult times. But you are entitled to and should get the same welfare support during these times but it’s difficult to fully utilise the support when you live away. Everyday life will be pretty much the same as it would be if they had a "normal job". There will be periods while they are away or working late and there will be periods where you get great quality family time. The main difference is the fact that you don't get any privacy. You will probably be working, living and socialising with all of their work friends. This can be brilliant (and mostly is fine) but it also can be quite suffocating and difficult to deal with.


Life in the Forces is a real test to your relationship. There is a lot of stress put on both of you and you will go through things that you wouldn’t normally need to go through together. There is a lot of sacrificing (on all sides) almost to the point where you can start to resent the other person for taking so much from you and not being able to give back right away.

You have to have a strong bond and great communication to make it work. You have to be understanding and have patience. You also have to be strong and independent. You are now sharing them with his job and that doesn’t just mean 9-5, Monday to Friday.

You will also have to share them with their friends. Expect there to be a number of work events and socials that you won’t get invited to. Try not to resent these times, quite often they will have no choice whether they go or not. Make sure you organise your own nights out too. And then organise something just for you two on your own.

As you can imagine, the long periods of separation are extremely hard and you will all have to be strong to make it through. You have to be independent and be able to handle things on your own. Not everyone is fully prepared for this and not everyone can cope with it. For most, there is a balance to be found. You do appreciate your time together and treasure the periods you have them home. And when they are away, you will communicate far more than some “normal” families. You will write, call, email and tell them all the more how important they are to you. Enjoy the social and try and enjoy the benefits of moving and seeing something of the world. Enjoy what you can from this bizarre life you find yourself living in and most of all - enjoy it together.

If you are finding that Forces life is putting pressure on your relationship, then you are able to chat to your Welfare Officer and get some advice.



“As adults, forces children can share many of the same positive and negative traits developed from their mobile childhoods. Having had the opportunity to live around the world, they can have a breadth of experiences unmatched by most teenagers. Regardless of race, religion, nationality, or gender, they might identify more with other highly mobile children than with non-mobile ones. Some can struggle to develop and maintain deep, lasting relationships, and can feel like outsiders to civilian culture. Their transitory lifestyle can hinder potential for constructing concrete relationships with people and developing emotional attachments to specific places, which may later develop into psychologically developmental disorders (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, etc.). But most assimilate quickly and well as they have to do so with each move.”


Besides their parents deploying (see our deployment section), it is the constant moving that will be hardest to deal with. The general sense of confusion and disorder can make moving both physically and emotionally stressful. While packing, moving, dusting, and sorting take a toll on energy and attention, short tempers and chaos drain the emotions. There is also an element of grief. No matter how eager you are to move, there will be places, things, and people that you will all miss.