* This post may be a little hard to read, but it’s the truth, and it’s a truth that no one warned me about, but one I feel that you need to be warned about. Also, I am in no way bashing the military, but just attempting to open some eyes.
Being in the military is, in my opinion, THE most brave, honorable, and strong thing that any person can do. I always thought it was a great thing to do, but I have learned so much more about it than I ever knew before becoming a Military SO. It is brave and honorable because yes, these people are putting their lives on the line for the country, but there’s also so much more strength and commitment involved than I ever knew. Last weekend, a man who my Marine is in school with, committed suicide. Now I do not blame this on the military, because I think there definitely were other issues going on there, but it did make me think hard about the things that my Marine and others are experiencing that are much harder than they anticipated.
Now before you start, I do realize that yes, they knew they were committing the next 4 years (at least) to the military, and that they knew they would have to move around and follow the rules, but I think even the most knowledgeable men were still surprised by the reality that is military life. Especially if they keep in touch with a lot of their friends who are civilians and going to college, or even just living civilian life. Because here’s the reality that you should know before joining or committing to a relationship with someone in the armed services:
Never plan on anything for sure. Their liberties are not guaranteed and are at the whim of their superiors. They can be taken for reasons that have nothing to do with your man’s behavior, or even the behavior of his platoon. When this happens, he will be devastated, and you need to stay positive because he will be dealing with a lot of disappointment, without your added sadness. You will need to be very flexible with your schedule, and not ever make any sure plans. You have to understand that if they do in fact get restricted liberty, they will be confined to their base, and while the base may have things for them to do, the fact is, for enlisted, they are 18/19 years old, and while their friends are doing whatever they want on the weekends; traveling, or staying out as late as they want, they are following strict rules. One of the great things about college for me, was that I could do whatever I wanted without my parents permission. No curfew, no rules, just freedom. I could stay up until 4am just because I wanted to, or go visit my friends at their schools on weekends, or go home, or drive off to anywhere whenever I felt like it. (I didn’t go crazy and do this, because I needed to keep my scholarships and therefore go to class) but the point is that I could if I wanted to. Your SO doesn’t have this option, and even though they may have known this, it isn’t really that big of a deal until they are living it, so be compassionate and realize how hard it would be to be confined to your campus or town at all times. There are many many things that your SO probably won’t realize are big issues until they’re there, such as being punished for someone else’s actions, being told that they will very likely be stationed here or there and then not getting that place, having to be with a partner every time they leave the barracks, and being told they will get their phones at a certain time, and not getting them until 2 hours later, if at all.
Again, I am not trying to make the military seem like a horrible thing at all, just expressing that there are things our boys will encounter that are hard, and things that civilians will never have to deal with or understand.
Also, I cannot stress this enough; you will really NEVER understand how military life works unless you live it. And being in the family of an officer and the family of an enlisted member are very different. Being in the family of someone who was is in as a career and a one or two term-er are also very different things. Rules change, orders change, and times change. Don’t ever let someone who had a family member in or who was in a failed military relationship try to tell you that you shouldn’t feel how you do, or it’s never going to work, or they knew what they were getting into so you guys shouldn’t be upset. You have every right to be sad, or upset, or even mad at the military, but the most important thing is that you accept that it is what it is, and move on from your frustration and focus on the positive things.
Long distance military relationships are a special kind of beast, but they are not impossible, and they are not a long, depressing time in your life that you just cry your way through. Prayer is the number one way that I deal with the bad news, let downs, and months on end without seeing the man I love. You have to trust that this move is what is best for your SO, and if nothing else, try to focus on how amazing times will be when this is over and you can be together without the rules, dropped Skype calls, cancelled liberties, and constant fear of deployment. Romans 8:18 says “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming.” I think that is something to hold on to dear readers, because how amazing will it be when you are together, and know that you made it through a situation that most people could never imagine? It’s hard, but I know it will be oh so worth it. I believe in God’s plan, I believe in hope for the future, and I believe in the love that my Marine and I share. So be strong, be encouraging, be loving, and believe in yourself and your relationship.