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Welcome to “Ask Kathryn” where readers can ask me questions or get advice and then I answer and feature them on my blog! This month’s topic is “Military Relationships.” Today, I have two questions from two different ladies asking about a military relationship. One is an older email I got back in January and one is more recent. Both are printed with permission from the person who wrote them.
How Do I Navigate a Military Relationship?
Jessy | Army Girlfriend
I’m Jessy. I’m 20 and the girlfriend of a soldier who is in Afghanistan on a 10-month deployment. I’m a Christian and going through so much pain. All I want is my baby home. This past week has been the hardest yet. As I lay here in bed tonight unable to sleep at 3:00 am, I found your page. It made me cry even harder. Not in a bad way, but tears of hope and knowing I’m not alone. I feel so alone because I’m ‘only a girlfriend’ and I am not included in anything the Army does for support. I’m only a girlfriend because we are a Christian couple that didn’t want to get married in a hurry before he deployed. We didn’t feel it was the right time yet. I just want to thank you. God bless you. You are amazing.” (January 2012)
Thank you so much for contacting me! How long has your boyfriend been gone? I know for me at least, the beginning of a deployment is the hardest, but it does get a little bit better. You just have to keep busy, and pray lots! Also, putting your energy into writing him letters and emails and making care packages really has helped me as well. Just think, if you can make it through a 10-month deployment, then you can make it through anything, especially together!
I totally understand the sleepless nights, the crying yourself to sleep, and everything else. Being in a military relationship is hard, but just remember you’re not alone. You are not “just a girlfriend” you are there to support him and help him get through as much as any military spouse would. Are there any support groups on Facebook or locally that you could join to help you? I know for me talking to other military people helps me so much. I have a couple of people I know I can turn to if I am having an awful day and just can’t make it through. God bless, I will be praying for you. You can make it through!
Heather | Starting a Military Relationship
Good morning Kathryn,
I just found your blog over the weekend and wanted to pick your brain a bit. I am a 40 year old single mom that lives just outside of Chicago. I took a recent trip to Austin, Texas for work/personal R&R and met a wonderful younger soldier (Chris)that is stationed at Fort Hood thru a friend of a friend. This certainly is not what I had expected – our time together was minimal and we both indicated that we wish we had more face-to-face time together while I was there. I came back home to my daughter but I feel I left a part of myself with this man.
We have communicated everyday in some manner since our parting (email, text, phone calls, Skype). As I said he is younger (29 compared to my 40), he also has a divorce under his belt like I do. The age difference and physical difference between us does not hinder my desire to want to keep in touch. He has had two deployments and probably is the most genuine and tender man I have met. His current life is so vastly different than mine and I know his experiences in the military are foreign to me. Yet, I feel that God has a purpose for his path and mine crossing. Chris is a quiet guy originally from West Virginia, no children of his own that is passionate about photography. Some of his work in photos is breathtaking.
Do you have any advice for me on how to proceed in getting to know each other better and start a military relationship?” (June 2012)
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I have been thinking about your email since yesterday.
Honestly, I have never been in this situation before so I am not sure what to tell you about the age difference. I would just encourage you to continue praying for the Lord’s leading and see where He takes you. I can give you some advice about long-distance military relationships though!
It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things: Skype, email, texts and phone calls. What about writing letters too? Letters sometimes allow us to put more of ourselves into them. We know that it will take time to get to the person we are writing to and we won’t be there while they are reading it so it’s easier to be ourselves when writing one and pour our feelings out.
Second, I would say to please do what you can do learn about military life. This is his life right now and although it can be hard to understand unless you are in it, there is still a lot you can do to see a little what is life is like. When my husband (boyfriend at the time) told me he was going to join the Air Force I was petrified. I didn’t know anything about military life, nothing at all. I loved him so much, however, that I was willing to learn everything I could about it because this is what he wanted to do and I knew if I married him this would be my life too.
I immediately got online and researched everything I could. I researched Air Force life, and the Air Force jobs my husband was interested in doing. I talked to other military spouses and military girlfriends and I began to see a little more what this life was like, but I had barely scraped the surface! If he’s up to it, ask him to tell you a little bit about life in the military or about deployment. He may not feel like sharing anything from deployment, but you could ask him to tell you about his job, how long he’s been in, and what his future plans with the military are.
Third, there are tons of ideas out there for long-distance relationships and getting to know each other better, including “Date Night” questions, ways to send mail and care packages, and so much more! I suggest you take a look at my Military Life & Deployment Pinterest Board as I have saved tons of ideas that help with long-distance military relationships and also show a little into life as a military spouse.
Please feel free to ask me any questions and I would love to know how things turn out! Good luck and I will be keeping your situation in prayer!
What about YOU? What advice would you give these ladies about being in a military relationship?