wrote: “I believe it takes a special kind of person
to date someone who is military and it is definitely not easy. Both people have
to work extremely hard for it to work. As long as both people want the
relationship to work and are loyal with each other, then the relationship can
Ashley wrote: “The military life is a hard one but if
you love someone enough then it's NOT hard to be faithful! Many people just
assume that the military is full of cheaters or that the spouses back home (MEN
and women) are unfaithful! I can name PLENTY of faithful couples that are
military! It takes a special kind of person to be a solider and a special kind
of person to be a military spouse.”
We get a lot of calls from people in the military. By “people in the military,” I mean soldiers, spouses, parents, and children. I've include all of these because no one goes into the military without some impact on those he/she loves.
asked one of our special partners, Mike Jones, to join me on these next few
blog posts. Mike is a former US Army Captain with two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also
the co-founder of Not Alone, a non-profit organization serving military
personnel, veterans, and their families.
Dawson: Many of the
calls we get are from spouses and girlfriends (boyfriends too) with concerns
about how the military is going to affect their relationships. Some are afraid
of the unknown as much as anything else.
Mike: Fear of the unknown is very common. The
military is like an alternate universe existing right in middle of normal America. They have their own cultural, values, and ways of
doing things. They even have their own private language. AGR stands of Active
Guard and Reserve, AIG stands for Address Indicator Group, and ASOC is the Air Support Operations Center. There are 690 other acronyms, and that's just the
A's. Then there is all the unofficial terminology (military slang). Also, the
way things are done at first can seem bizarre and without common sense. But
trust me, everything (and I mean everything) is the way it is for a reason. One
part of that fear spouses and girlfriends/boyfriends feel is that the ones they
love are entering a world so different from their own, and they're not sure how
they will continue to relate to one another. Two people in two very different
worlds – wIll they still have enough common ground?
Dawson: I guess the
strength and the depth of that common ground has a lot to do with the impact of
military life on a relationship.
Mike: Absolutely. Not all the stories are not horror
stories. Some of greatest marriages and greatest families that I know of are
those of military personnel. But I will also say that the military,
particularly the deployments and the stress of combat, will reveal what's
really there. If two people have a solid foundation of love, trust, and faith,
then military service with all it's difficulties can make it stronger. If those
things are weak or superficial, it will reveal that too.
Dawson: Sometimes the
concerns of our callers are not about what they don't know but what they do
know – the things they have suddenly come to realize. It's not unusual for some
to throw in the comment: “I didn't sign up for this!”
heard that same comment many times. Military service can be extremely demanding
on a soldier's time and emotional focus. The first and foremost concerned of
the military is the mission. It's not that the command structure unconcerned
about anything else, but the mission comes first. Marissa Boote, a paralegal
whose husband joined the Army, said that same thing when she realized how much
the Army would control their lives, “I didn't sign up for this!”
Dawson: It seems that
military service is something both people in a relationship need
to sign up for emotionally.
Mike: It only takes
one to sign on the dotted line, but you're right. Everyone in a military family
serves and sacrifices in their own way. It would be wrong to assume that one
person could “do their thing” in the military, while the other continues to “do
their thing” in the civilian world unaffected. So, in a way – yes; the solider
and spouse need sign up together to serve their country. That is a part of the
foundation that is going to enable their relationship to survive and thrive.
Dawson: So, what do
see as the upside to joining the military?
Mike: There are lot of benefits recruiters will tell
you about – college tuition, see the world... that kind of stuff. For me the
most important things are personal. It makes you a better person. It brings out
the best in you. The very best part is the camaraderie. You become part of a
family of men and women who pay a high price to serve and who would give their
lives for one another. Those kind of relationships in that kind of setting will
definitely change you.
Dawson: The way you
describe those benefits “change you,” “serve (something else),” and “be part of
(another) family” might seem a little threatening to a spouse or
girlfriend/boyfriend. One goes off to the greatest experience of their lives
and build these deep relationships apart from his/her spouse. That's what many
are afraid of – heading off in different directions.
Mike: Yes, but is doesn't necessarily have to be
that way. Spouses enter that new world of relationships and camaraderie as
well. Like I said, both sign up, one as a soldier and the other as a military
spouse. If two people can to embrace the difficulties, dangers, and crazy
lifestyle of serving their country in the military, their relationship can grow
and both be better for it. Those who have done so would not have it any other
Next week: MILITARY RELATIONSHIP (part 2): Dealing with
For podcasts by military
wives, forums by military personnel and their families dealing with deployments
and combat-related issues, or more information on Not Alone, go to
<< Previous Blog
166. Six Things You Had to Say About Cheating (part 2 of 2)