There I was: a military girlfriend who had absolutely no idea what military life was actually like.
I mean, I watched a bunch of war movies. So there was that. But Band of Brothers isn’t exactly a primer for what being in a military relationship is like.
Maybe you’re like I was– fumbling around and not really sure what being a milso actually entailed. Or maybe you totally have this milso thing on lock. (Which if that is you– awesome! High five! You are ahead of the curve!)
But I know I didn’t way back then… so I thought it would be fun to ask the Jo, My Gosh! community what advice they’d give a new milso. Turns out Jo, My Gosh! readers have some pretty darn good advice.
Open Your Mouth
“Communication is key. You have to be honest and respectful with each other.” -Becca
“Trust and communication! Your significant other is going to be gone a lot but if you completely trust them you will save yourself a lot of worry. With that being said a lot of the relationship will be based off email/phone calls so you must learn to communicate and don’t rely on the physical part of your relationship to express your feelings for them.” -Laney
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it no less than a bajillion times on Jo, My Gosh!: Communication is what makes strong military couples. Not only does it help with logistics, but when it comes down to it, military life can be really lonely. Often, the only other person who knows where you’ve been, what you’ve been through, and where you’re going is literally your spouse. If you can’t talk to your spouse in an honest and authentic way– and if they can’t do the same with you– it can be a very bumpy journey.
Step Off the Ledge
“Find someone who is worthy of your trust and then TRUST them! There are times in military life when you can’t always communicate (even if you both want to) so trusting that the other person has the best intentions goes a long way.” -Callie
“Keep your faith in each other. Always say I love you. Never go to bed angry. Communicate. Be 100% honest about EVERYTHING. We are doing long distance, so we cherish every moment we have in each others arms.” -Kaitie
Being able to mutually trust each other is the bedrock of the strongest military (and civilian) relationships I know. When I first started dating John, more than one person asked me if I was worried that he was going to cheat on me. The first time someone asked, I was annoyed with them (because really, how rude is that?) but I was also flooded with relief: I didn’t even have to think. I knew John wasn’t cheating on me— not when he was 200 miles away and not when he was 7,000 miles away.
Be Positive and Take a Deep Breath
“Learn to enjoy the time you have together as much as possible and don’t get frustrated when you can’t plan anything (just make a lot of backup plans so you are happy with the outcome no matter what it may be).” -Sandra
“Patience and understanding that the military will get in the way at times. Your service member may not always answer your calls/texts because he isn’t allowed to while working, they may have to cancel dates because they get called in to work out of the blue, and they usually cannot just take a day off on a whim to go on an adventure. But despite all that, the relationship is worth it. You just have to roll with the punches and take it one day at a time. ” -Bre Anne
Type A? Me too. It’s really tough to be chill when your life is upended time and time again. The good thing is, military life gives you a lot of those moments to practice going with the flow. It’s tough, but when you control what you can and release the other stuff, you have a lot more time to enjoy life as it comes.
Revel in the Journey
“Be ready for the unexpected. My husband called one morning and said we are moving across country next month. He wasn’t due up for orders for a while more. It was a shock but so exciting! Make all the moves an adventure!” -Alexis
“Sure, Jo, sure. Revel in the journey. Easy to say when the journey didn’t leave you in the middle of nowhere without friends and family close by.”
I know, I know. I hear you. There are so many really awful things about military life. But there are some good things too. I’ve found that the military couples that can see those good things and enjoy the challenges life brings them are happier and have really strong relationships. Spend time to get upset with the change. Cry. Eat ice cream. Whatever you need to do, do it. Then start looking for how this change can be a good thing– because trust me, there’s something good in it.
“Don’t hold things in, express your feelings on military life in a way that isn’t full of judgement, accusations or anger. Never assume anything and ask before you react.” -Judy
If you’re upset, chances are your honey knows it. Chances are, said honey is probably also feeling weird/guilty/upset or another emotion about whatever’s going on, too. Talk about it. Take refuge in each other so you can weather the storm.
“Don’t lose your own identity!” -Lilia
Just because you married (or are dating) someone in the military doesn’t mean you married (or are dating) the military. There are military spouses and significant others from all walks of life, with all kinds of interests, experiences, political persuasions, religious and ethnic backgrounds, educational statuses… you get the picture. Cherish what makes you different. We need you in this community because your diversity makes us better.