I get asked this question from time to time. It’s also phrased by non-military friends as statements: “I just don’t know how you do it. How do you go for months and months (and years!) without being together? Isn’t it hard?”
Well, yes. (Duh.) It’s extremely hard.
Could you do it? Sure.
You can do so much more than you think you can. (This applies to so many areas of life.) When you truly love someone, and are proud of who they are, what they stand for and what they do, it eases the pain of separation a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it still sucks. But it’s doable.
So, should you marry a person in the military? The short answer: When it comes to being married to the military, the stress of this life will exaggerate what’s already there. If it’s a not-so-strong relationship, communication is lacking, or there is adversarial “tit-for-tat” type of behavior, it’s most likely not going to work, and both people will be completely miserable. On the other hand, it’s my experience that the reverse is also true. Communicating often, coming to the realization that you both are on the same team, and really want what’s best for your marriage and your family – it can be an amazing adventure.
This military life is filled with highs and lows. There is drama. It’s exhilarating. But it can also be heartbreaking. Saying goodbyes (and aching through the goodbyes of our kids) is not for the weak. While it may have been better to have ‘loved and lost, than to not have loved at all’, that saying just isn’t comforting when leaving very dear friends behind.
But we in the military do get an amazing opportunity to have friends all over the world. We’ve dropped in on friends that we haven’t seen in years, and we pick up, catch up and carry on like no time has passed at all! It’s really an awesome community of which to be a part. I am very thankful that my kids will have a piece of that experience as well, hard though it may be at times.
Should you marry a person in the military? Well, like any path of life, it’s really what you make of it. You can be miserable in the military, or you can make the most of it. That’s up to you. You will get out of this life what you put into it, military or civilian.
I love this life and the experiences it has lent to our family. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Even the hard parts.