People who have never served in the armed forces show support through care packages and other expressions of gratitude. But while displaying “support our troops” signs or saying “thank you for your service” are nice gestures, they don’t convey a depth of understanding of military life.
The people who serve in the US armed forces are highly trained professionals with profound responsibilities. Becoming romantically involved with a service member comes with challenges that civilian relationships simply don’t present. Learn what it’s actually like to be in a military relationship.
Deployments can happen anytime, including in the middle of your birthday dinner or just as you were expecting a romantic weekend together. It’s important to accept this as a reality going into a military relationship, because pouting and whining about it won’t change it.
Communication Can Be Abrupt
Clear, concise communication is a matter of life and death in the military. The training that requires you to “say what you mean and mean what you say” doesn’t disappear when your significant other comes home. Learn to be as direct and assertive as your military partner. They don’t have time to beat around the bush, and they certainly don’t appreciate mind games, hints, or unspoken expectations.
Secrets Are Part of the Deal
Don’t expect a detailed play-by-play when you ask, “How was your day?” There are things military members simply can’t talk about, including many details of their deployments and missions while away. There will always be a side of your military partner that remains a mystery, and that’s something people involved in military relationships simply must accept.
Buddies Come With the Territory
Loyalty can be a lifesaver, and members of the armed forces will support their buddies without hesitation or question. Having their buddies’ backs is a critical part of their job, and they won’t put that aside for a spouse or partner. There’s no point in being jealous about it; military devotion to comrades could save their life. It doesn’t diminish your role in the relationship.
Marriage Has Benefits but Doesn’t Change Military Life
Some couples involved in a military relationship may feel pressured to rush into marriage, because it’s impossible to know how long you’ll be physically together. You can maintain a long-distance relationship until you're sure your partner is “the one.”
But when you do know for sure, you can get married—even if one or both of you can’t be present—through a proxy marriage. Understand, however, that while married, military life comes with many benefits, but it won’t change the fundamental realities of a military relationship. There will be rules, dress codes, and traditions that seem archaic and even silly and deployments that seem exquisitely ill-timed, but rules are rules when duty calls in the armed forces.
Your military relationship will require both of you to be self-sufficient, independent, and able to endure long separations with little or no communication. If you love each other, it will be worth it. You will learn to cherish the homecomings that reunite you even more.