Spouse Calls: Find friends with common interests
Stars and Stripes June 3, 2007
Q. My husband, daughter and I recently moved overseas. We have been here for a few months, and I am going crazy trying to find ways to meet other wives. We live off base, so I know it’s a little bit harder to meet people that way. I have gone to every Web site possible to look for groups, and every time I come up empty-handed. I have also looked at the community centers and the gym, etc. I am starting to feel very isolated and lonely here and would really like to meet some friends. My daughter is a pre-teen and obviously has no problems finding friends. I have tried to strike up conversations with a few of the parents, but they don’t seem too interested. Do you have any other suggestions?
— Looking for friends in Germany
A. The weeks and months after an overseas move can be full of things to do, yet devoid of friends. There are so many details to cover, especially when living off base, that making friends is relegated to the bottom of the list after school enrollment, utility connections and garbage pick up.
Now that you have checked off most of your “to do” list, you can take care of some of your own needs. To seek friends who share your interests, find things you like to do. You will probably find other spouses doing the same thing. If you like reading, ask about book clubs at the library. If you like cooking, take a German baking or cooking class through the USO.
Here are my favorite places to look for friends when I move:
The chapel: Especially at overseas chapels, women’s groups provide many activities and classes. Another plus is that everyone there has a military connection — instant common ground.School: Volunteering at my children’s schools, whether through PTSA, in the classroom or a reading program at the school library, has been a good place to get to know people.Spouses club: Aside from the big luncheon and dinner events, spouses clubs also offer smaller groups, such as book clubs, game nights, shopping trips, and volunteer opportunities. I made many friends at our last assignment in the book club and the hospitality committee, which made meals for neighbors in need.Most of these have evening or lunchtime options, so you can participate even if you have a job or are looking for one.Keep trying to talk to other parents at soccer games or school functions. Don’t give up on everyone if some do not seem interested. Even some military spouses can be slow starters where friendship is concerned. Just by being friendly, you might encourage someone else and make a new friend in spite of first impressions. This is true of neighbors also. If your new neighbors don't bring you cookies, why not take cookies to them at the next holiday?For the rest of you, who are not new this year, be aware of the new spouse you meet at the bus stop, the commissary or the gym. Reach out and be friendly. In a year or maybe two, the new spouse will be you.Terri Barnes is a military spouse and mother of three. She and her family live in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein, AB. Contact her at email@example.com and read the Spouse Calls blog at blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.