9 Lyrics from Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' That Perfectly Describe Life as a Military Spouse

Taylor Swift performs as part of the ‘Eras Tour’ at the Tokyo Dome.
Taylor Swift performs as part of the ‘Eras Tour’ at the Tokyo Dome, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Toru Hanai/AP Photo)

On April 19, beloved singer Taylor Swift dropped one of the most anticipated albums of the year when she released "The Tortured Poets Department" at midnight. Then, two hours later, the 14-time Grammy winner shocked the world by releasing an additional 15 tracks.

Swift is known for leaving cryptic messages, Easter eggs and layered meanings in her lyrics for her fans to find, argue over and decode. And while we're pretty sure that her lyrics aren't intentionally describing the military spouse experience -- although she did pen "Epiphany" in 2020 as a tribute to her grandfather, who served in the Pacific during World War II -- we found quite a few that speak to some universal (or nearly universal) truths about military life.

1. "All my mornings are Mondays stuck in an endless February ..." ("Fortnight")

Is there anything that describes the beginning days of a spouse's military deployment better than this line? Especially if it's the first time you're experiencing a deployment as a couple, life can feel repetitive and gray. But until you find your new rhythm and schedule, those first few days or weeks are often difficult, monotonous and emotionally draining.

2. "And I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free ..." ("So Long, London")

Even in the most moto of relationships, there's a moment when a couple grapples with the "what ifs" of military life. What if we hadn't taken orders to that one installation? What if we had transitioned out of the military four years ago? And maybe the most painful question of all -- what if military life was never part of our story? Where would we be now?

The question of lost youth can rear its head when it's time to leave the military. Suddenly, it's easy to see exactly how much time was spent in service to the country, and how many different paths might have been taken. For military spouses who have made professional and personal sacrifices to stay with and support their significant other, it can be especially bittersweet to reflect on the time that's passed.

3. "We came back when the heat died down/Went to my parents and they came around ..." ("But Daddy I Love Him")

From elopements to proxy marriages, getting hitched on the fly -- or even in secret -- is pretty common in the military community. While that's not what Swift's actually singing about -- she might be referencing "The Little Mermaid" or her situationship with musician Matty Healy -- her lyrics certainly describe the fervor that can surround a surprise marriage and the aftermath: reconciling, or at least coming to an understanding, with less-than-pleased parents and relatives.

4. "Little did you know your home's really only/A town you're just a guest in ..." ("Florida!!!")

What is "home" to active-duty military families? Ask 10 military spouses, and you'll get 10 different answers. For most, home is a shifting concept and a shifting location throughout military life, rather than a pin in a map. And for the majority of military families, this feeling of being a guest where they're living is a very real, very difficult part of military life: In 2022, a Blue Star Families survey of military families found that just a third of active-duty respondents felt that they "belonged" to their civilian community. No one wants to be a guest where they live, but it's a feeling that military spouses know all too well.

Taylor Swift fans take selfies at a new pop-up opening to celebrate the singer's upcoming album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ at the Grove in Los Angeles.
Taylor Swift fans take selfies at a new pop-up opening to celebrate the singer's upcoming album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ at the Grove in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Richard Vogel/AP Photo)

5. "The hurricane with my name when it came/I got drunk and I dared it to wash me away/Barricaded in the bathroom with a bottle of wine/Well, me and my ghosts, wе had a hell of a time ..." ("Florida!!!")

One of the rites of passage of military spouse life is dealing with a natural disaster or emergency (usually) alone. It might be a hurricane that forces evacuations except for sailors who need to take their ships out to sea, away from the damaging waves and winds. It might be a brushfire that threatens your installation. Or maybe it's a child's allergic reaction while your serving spouse is TAD/TDY. Whatever the circumstance, military spouses meet the challenge and chalk it up to experience.

6. "You caged me and then you called me crazy/I am what I am 'cause you trained me ..." ("Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?")

Swift nails the frustrating closed loop of military spouse employment when she penned these lines. Many spouses find themselves in an endless cycle of being told to volunteer to fill gaps in their resume so they become more hireable. What do they truly need? Affordable and accessible child care, more remote and flexible opportunities, and employers who understand that military life is not a business liability. It's enough to make even the most seasoned spouse feel unhinged, even when it's the system that's crazy.

7. "Who's gonna stop us from waltzing back into rekindled flames/If we know the steps anyway?" ("loml")

Reenlistment can be one hell of a roller coaster for military couples as they balance the needs and wants of the family with those of the Defense Department. After all, once you know how to navigate military life and have the first deployments and permanent changes of station, or PCSes, under your belt, what's four more years? And then another four years? And ... pretty soon, you're looking at 20 (or maybe you're feeling 22). For many military families, the choice between reenlistment and civilian life is tough, because it's a choice between the comfortable known and the stressful unknown.

8. "'Cause I'm a real tough kid/I can handle my shit/They said, 'Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it' and I did ..." ("I Can Do it with a Broken Heart") 

Even when it's frustrating, military life can be empowering. From living in another country, to making friends with folks from the four corners of the country, to figuring out the ins and outs of PCSing -- every experience is an accomplishment. You've got this, even if you have to fake it 'til you make it.

9. "You wouldn't last an hour in the asylum where they raised me ..." ("Who's Afraid of Little Old Me")

We're not calling the military an asylum ..., but we're not not saying that remote installations have some similarities. If you've ever gone through the shock of being stationed in the middle of nowhere, trauma-bonded with the best friends you'll ever have, and then, once you PCSed, found yourself missing that boring swamp, or desert, or freezing tundra ... well, our hat is off to you. You took a tough situation and persevered, even when you didn't think you could and when many others couldn't.

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