There they are — the perfect match for you. They are everything you’ve dreamed of; kind, funny, smart, and committed. They are committed in a way that you can’t help but admire. Their commitment transforms them into something less than 1% of the U.S. population ever even considers. They are in the U.S. Military and while you love them, part of you worries about the toll that loving someone who is often absent or away from you can have on a relationship. How can long distance military relationships work?
While long-distance military relationships are not something so uncommon in today’s world of global commuting, a long-distance military relationship brings with it so many more challenges than you can account for. But don’t let this discourage you! A long-distance military relationship can be one of the most rewarding challenges you will ever face – especially if you and your partner choose to face it together.
Long Distance Military Relationships
Long-distance relationships are never easy, especially for those who are in military relationships. Yet this is something that you will have to face over and over again if you’re dating, engaged, or married to someone in the military. So how do you make something so difficult easier? That’s the million-dollar question and one that we will try to examine here.
First and foremost, throw out your expectations and don’t set your plans in stone. Part of military life is that you go when you are called and where you are called.
Ever heard the phrase “married to the military”? That’s because it’s a true statement. A service member has no choice (for the most part) when they have to be called away for late nights, training or deployments. They simply must go and therefore you must learn to say goodbye. Goodbye can also sometimes mean goodbye to plans you’ve made such as vacations, date nights, and yes – even special holidays or major family events. You might be thinking, “Well that sounds terrible! How can any of this be a good thing?”
These challenges can serve a two-fold purpose if you look at it from the right perspective. Purpose number one: choosing to face these times apart as a team effort can bring you closer together as a couple.
The Bright Side
Couples who look at upcoming deployments, TDYs (temporary duty assignments or stations), or training as something to face together are far less likely to have feelings of discouragement and loneliness. Not that those feelings won’t be encountered, but when it does happen the groundwork for communication is already there to express and share them.
This brings us to purpose number two: every homecoming and special event becomes sweeter when your service member is able to be there for it. Once you’ve had the person you love miss out on a few birthdays, anniversaries, or even the birth of a child, other moments become more important.
The simple things aren’t so simple anymore such as a slow dance in the kitchen, a family dinner around the same table, or just being able to say “Happy Birthday” over a birthday cake. Once you realize the treasure of simply being together, the time apart doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
How to Make a Long Distance Military Relationship Work
You’ve chosen to love someone in the military. You’ve set aside your expectations, accepted the fact that your plans will get thrown out the window and know that if you face the separations as a team you stand a far greater chance of success.
Yet still, you feel a little overwhelmed at making it work, especially if you’re approaching your first separation. Don’t worry, those feelings are normal. Here are some tips on how to make your long-distance military relationship work and what to do when you feel like it’s not.
Communication is Key
By now you may have figured out that communication is going to be a big factor in your relationship. One of the great things about a modern military relationship is the fact that it is so much easier to communicate than before. While there may be some instances due to training or travel restrictions where you might not have any way to get in touch, for the most part, every service member will still have access to some form of communication. This means Facetime, texting, messenger apps and email are all available to you.
Care Packages Rock
Let’s not discount the old-fashioned snail mail though! Letters and packages do more than just communicate with your loved one. They’re a physical reminder of the person they care about, and they can mean a lot. There are literally hundreds of ideas for care packages out there! There is everything from theme ideas, how to send their favourite baked goods, or just what types of things they might need and can’t get if they are somewhere overseas.
You might think this is a silly reminder of the time left to go, but in all actuality, it’s a great reminder of how fast the time can go by! Countdown chains or a calendar to mark off the days can be a great couple milestone to do together. Example: “Only 60 days to go until we’re together!”
Talk About Future Plans
Talking about future plans is a great way to focus on when the service member gets home and not so much on the fact that they are away. The more you dwell on what you are missing out on the harder it can be on the relationship. Instead, focus on dreams, goals and future plans.
This can also serve to keep the morale of your service member high as well. Think about it – he or she is thousands of miles away from the ones they love and in a country that isn’t home. Focusing on the positive helps the time go by for them as well.
Final Words about Long Distance Military Relationships
There you have it, the simple building blocks for a great long-distance military relationship. While no two relationships are alike, these basic tips will certainly help you get started on having a great and long-lasting one. A long-distance military relationship is hard work, but the harder the work the greater the reward.