Last month, I wrote a guest post for Millennial Whiskey (who if you haven't checked out should definitely go give a follow here) and the topic was Married to Military. In the past, I haven't taken posts that I've written for other fellow bloggers and published on my blog, however this is a topic I've wanted to discuss for a long time because I feel it's incredibly important. So this week, I will be discussing being married to military.
The military, one of the biggest symbols of freedom, honor, and bravery in our country. Military men and women are celebrated daily for their heroic and brave sacrifices they make for their country and country-men for the safety of their home. Unfortunately, things may not be so celebratory at home. Separations and divorce rates are incredibly high in the military, reaching higher than the average rate. According to lawinfo.com, the Air Force comes in at 14.6% divorce rate, Navy at 12.5%, and Army and Marines at over 8%. My husband is fairly fresh out of the Navy (just passed the year mark) and during that period of our life we faced many challenges that we had to work together to get through.
During our time in the Navy, I remember our relationship was under much scrutiny when we first began dating. People who worked with my husband would come up to him and “jokingly” would say our relationship “wouldn’t last long” or “she’ll come to her senses soon”. Now, some of them we’re friends with and keep in contact with, however back then part of me felt as if I was under some sort of test or microscope. Would I stick around and be supportive? Or would I get up and leave when times became tough. Unfortunately, this does happen quite often as it did to some of our friends during their deployments-so to an extent I understand where they were coming from. Nothing is worse than hearing that your friend who just returned from deployment, comes home to find that his/her significant other or spouse has just left and filed for divorce, and this is exactly what happened to one of our friends. It’s so sad to see, and not a lot of people understand the stresses for both parties involved in the military. Your loved one who’s in the military has the stress of deployment, being put into danger and harms way, and possibly awaiting orders that could change the world in a heartbeat. On the other hand, the significant other/spouse at home is also dealing with the same stresses and feelings of being alone if they just moved to a new town while being re-stationed. It’s incredibly hard for both parties, however this gives no excuses to be unfaithful or disrespectful to your partner. This week, I want to discuss my biggest tips that helped my husband and I through the difficult times of deployment and trainings.
This goes for all couples in all occupations, however I believe it’s incredibly important to address for those in the military. Support does not necessarily only mean helping out financially, it could also mean emotionally. A lot of emotions flow through when a spouse or loved one has to deploy-fear, sadness, even anger comes to visit. It’s always vital to remember that deployments are not something that your significant other or spouse wants to do to be away from you (unless you’re in an unhappy relationship-but at that point you should break it off). Deployments are equally hard for both parties involved, why not be there for one another and work together to get through it?
Communication! Communication! Communication! I cannot stress this enough, this is probably the most important building block for any and every relationship. Human beings are not mind readers, we cannot tell if there is something bothering our loved ones just by looking at them. If something is bothering you, you must be open about it even when it’s scary. I will not deny, this is one even I sometimes struggle with and it is normal. I’ve been struggling these past couple of months trying to find a job to help support my husband with the house bills, we’ve talked about it several times and yet there are some days where it is very hard and I feel massive amounts of guilt. My husband notices that something is wrong and will ask me, yet I don’t want to talk about it. When couples don’t talk to one another, worry begins to set in: “Why doesn’t my spouse/significant other want to talk to me?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Is there something wrong with our relationship?”. When the worry gets worse as communication is less and less strain comes in, and as the strain becomes stronger, communication further decreases, and as it continuously declines we start to drift apart. During deployments, it is harder to communicate especially if you’re in separate time zones, however being in a relationship/marriage/partnership does require work and effort. If you’re in separate time zones and you’re at work before your loved one is about to go to bed, take a 15 minute break or go on your lunch break and call them--have a lunch date. Decreasing communication is a vicious cycle that as it becomes stronger, it’s even harder to break so it’s incredibly important to keep communication open and flowing.
Befriend other Military Spouses/Significant Others
Being in the military (serviceman and significant other) is incredibly hard and no one understands it better than other people who are involved in the military. If your loved one is deployed overseas or is in training in another state, reach out to other fellow significant others of military men and women and meet up for coffee or go to the movies. It’s a great support system and you have an added friend!
Adopt a Pet
It can get incredibly lonely and stressful during a deployment, so that’s why I highly recommend adopting a pet. We adopted our dog Harper two years ago and originally we adopted her to add some life to our house, however we discovered much more that she added to our home as time went on. Our first deployment together was incredibly hard for my husband (boyfriend at the time) for while he was overseas his mother passed away from an unknown illness (at the time). When he returned, he was not the same: not as much laughter, more reserved and quiet, and sleeping a lot more. After we adopted Harper, my husband made a complete 180. He was much happier-- wanting to go outside to the puppy park and play, giving her lots of snacks and love, and watching tv and taking lots of nappies together when he got home from work. Shortly after our wedding in March of 2019, we had to go through our second deployment together. During our first one, I was incredibly lonely when I would come home from work and on the weekend. The house was very quiet and I would constantly have the TV on just for background noise. During the second deployment I had Harper, and it was much easier. I always had a very happy face to greet me when I came home, I had someone to talk to (even though she can’t talk back) and watch tv with, I had someone to walk with, I had a companion. It may sound like a lot of work adopting a pet, especially if you’ve never had a pet before, and I’m not going to sugarcoat anything--at first it is hard. Both you and your pet have to adopt to a new lifestyle and routine and you have to get used to living with one another, however after a couple of weeks you both blend, sync, and develop a relationship and it becomes MUCH easier.
Keep Yourself Busy
Nothing is worse when you have nothing to do during a deployment/training and all you can think about is missing and being with your loved one. This is probably my absolute biggest tip because it goes for both parties involved--be busy! When you’re busy, you don’t have the time to think about missing your loved one and be sad that they’re not with you. For the military spouse--you can keep yourself busy by going to the movies (even if it’s by yourself), check out the new local coffee shop, meet up with friends, begin a new hobby, go visit a close relative nearby. For those in the military-- you could workout after work with some friends, go explore the city, or you could learn the culture and language of the country you’re in. As long as you keep yourself busy, you won’t be thinking about the negatives and the time will go by faster.
As mentioned above, divorce rates have skyrocketed above normal in the military. There’s a reason why I chose the title I did, because it’s not just the significant other who’s married to the enlisted man/woman, however the serviceman/woman is also married to the military. Being involved in the military is almost like a lifestyle and once you’re in, you have to wait until your enlistment is up. You can’t just get out when you want. I wanted to write this post to possibly spread some awareness and to reach out to other military couples and families. Being in the military is hard and can be incredibly stressful at times, however both parties are involved together. In hard times, such as during deployments and out of state trainings, it’s important to lean on each other for support and comfort for you’re both going through the same thing, no one can better support you than someone who is enduring the same. As always, I send peace and love and a happy New Year to you all.
Deployments are nothing compared to sharing our whole lives together.
Connected souls never break, no matter the miles apart.
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