Lets face it, we all get a little bit caught up sometimes. If you’re in a military relationship like myself, than you know exactly what I mean. We get so busy trying to plan around training cycles and deployments, that our life starts to have very little balance. I meet so many military girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses who are caught up in their loved ones goals, career, and duty, and they have lost who they are, and what they want.
I can’t say that this is something that’s easy to avoid, because at some point, we all go through it. When Kyle joined the Army I was a sophomore in college, and the end of my degree seemed so far away (even though it wasn’t). Luckily for me, it was spring and school was almost over for the year. But even then, I would leave class early, or even skip classes, because I knew he would be gone in July. I told myself that seeing him as often as possible was more important than going to class. But what that translates into is that seeing him (even when I knew he would be back after training) was more important than a successful education.
For a long time, my life revolved around the fact that Kyle is in the military. I started to forget who I wanted to be, and it ended up hurting our relationship because I wasn’t me anymore. I had always made my own money, so I wasn’t financially dependent on Kyle in any way. But I felt like I was dependent on him in all the other ways.
We made it through that with the support of many, and I started to integrate more balance into our relationship. I learned that just like life has phases, so do relationships. They change as life does, and if you don’t adapt to that, you can get lost. Through that process, I was able to see what we both did wrong, and found some useful tips in avoiding that situation.
1. Make time for your friends
No matter how busy things get, don’t forget about the other people who care about you. Life is going to change, and people will come and go. But the ones that stay are the ones you need to hold on tight to. And they need to have your support just as much as you have theirs. Whether you’re going through some tough courses in school, or you’re facing an entire deployment, don’t forget that they have struggles and hardships in their life as well.
Friends are what help to keep us grounded. Often times they’re the ones that knew us before our lives got crazy, and they will know us well after. Good friends offer friendly advice and support, but great friends let you know when you need to come back down from planet Mars. Let them be those people, you’ll need it.
2. Have your own schedule
There are plenty of things that will have to change again and again, so make sure you keep holding onto the ones that don’t have to change. If you have a morning yoga class everyday, or coffee on Monday’s at your favorite spot, keep on doing it if you still can. These are special things that belong to you, and giving them up can hurt you more than you think.
We all need “alone time” to process and decompress our thoughts. These routines help us to keep some semblance of sanity. I completely understand wanting to spend every second of your time with your loved one, but listen to what you need as well. There were times when I bailed on my friends to spend time with Kyle, and I regret that sometimes. But I had this fear in my mind that I could wake up the next day and he would be back in training, gone for months. But you can’t live that way. You can’t spend every day holding your breathe, waiting.
3. Remind yourself of your goals
It’s perfectly okay to have goals with your loved one, whether they be buying a house in a year or taking a vacation to the Bahamas (yes please). But don’t forget about your own goals. Where do you want to be with your career in 5 years? How far do you want to run by next month? What places do you want to explore this summer?
If you start leaving out your goals, and focusing solely on the other persons’, you begin to lose sight of where your life is headed. And over time, you’ll begin to resent each other. A big issue that I see in many military relationships is that everything begins to revolve around the service member’s lifestyle, and what they need. Don’t forget to voice your own goals, dreams, hopes and fears, because it’s those things that will bring you closer and make you stronger. If you suppress them, it can actually pull you apart.
4. Speak up
If you’re reading this, chances are you or your loved one are part of the 1% that make up our military. But don’t forget that first and foremost, they are still human. Sometimes, just like us, they will get lost and need some reminders in their relationship or every day life. They will need to be reminded to say thank you for the many things we do, and for us to tell them when they’re being a bit selfish. It’s perfectly okay to say those things. If you’re in a relationship where you can’t, than you need to focus on the bigger issue.
If you go long periods of time without pointing out these little things, they become big things. They wear on us, and create deep rooted issues that are sometimes impossible to resolve. Put aside time, if necessary, to “maintenance” your relationship. Every couple has little issues, and it often seems like there’s no time to address them. Make the time.
5. Take opportunities
I know that this can be a tricky one, especially for those of us who live on base and could be moving at a moments notice. But don’t let the fear of having to drop everything, stop you from taking chances. Whether it’s with your career or a new friendship, go for it. If you’re going to have to leave anyways, what’s the harm in finding out something new about yourself?
Taking opportunities is a huge part of how we grow as human beings. If you stop taking chances with life, than it becomes easy to feel like you’re just going through the motions. And if you’re no longer growing as an individual, it will start to reflect on your relationship. A lot of things are determined and controlled by living a military lifestyle, but not everything. No one else gets to decide who you want to be, or who you will be. So choose carefully, and take the leap.
What are your goals for the upcoming year? Any opportunities you’re thinking about taking, but aren’t sure?