167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!

Taylor 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 work.”


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.

I've 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.

Not Alone


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!”


Mike: I've 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 way.


Next week:  MILITARY RELATIONSHIP (part 2): Dealing with Deployments


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 www.NotAlone.com.





<< Previous Blog
 166. Six Things You Had to Say About Cheating (part 2 of 2)

Posted 11-12-2010 5:14 PM by Dawson


Carmena wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-13-2010 1:27 PM |

I've never had to deal with comforting someone going into deployment, but a guy from my hometown was fighting in the war over in Afghanistan and was killed. Whenever the Westboro Church from Topeka, Kanses found out (the church that goes around protesting the deaths of fallen soldiers saying that God is killing them because the world tolerates homosexuality and sin) they decided they were going to travel to my hometown, Mcalester, Oklahoma, and protest his death with signs saying "thank god for dead soldiers." Today was his funeral and my whole town lined up down the streets of where his funeral was to support his family and our heros. Every hand had an American flag in it  and our freedom riders (bike riders who support/or were soldiers) were there. The Westboro Church was there protesting and their tires got slashed by some of our townspeople. Needless to say, they weren't welcome here and they left shortly after that happened.

Lyndsey (Facebook) wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-14-2010 5:31 PM |

Amen military relationships are special. if they make it through the training and first deployment they can make it through anything. God bless our military couples they got the best that there is!!!!!

Chawndarazzle (Facebook) wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-14-2010 5:40 PM |

Ive had to comfort my family members while being deployed. Its tough trying to stay strong for them when you're fighting to stay alive everyday.

Aaron (Facebook) wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-14-2010 6:01 PM |

My brother is in iraq right now and my sisters husband is also in the army so I've had to do a lot of that

Cory (Facebook) wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-14-2010 8:13 PM |

at least four of my family members have been deplyed, my dad and uncle are both currently deployed, and its hard on my family, and i comfort my mom alot, i try telling my mom that everything is okay, i am pretty much indifferent about all of it.

kandace collins wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-14-2010 11:17 PM |

i am an army wife too. i agree about the military life is totally different from the "outside "world. so i would tell girls before you get married i would at least go their a deployment with them to see if you can really handle the stress and lonelyness of being an army wife. There is annother language to the military that you will learn over time. and a major bummer about being an army wife is the army will  and always come first before you. if you are one of those girls who likes to be in charge of everything u do or want to do  then this is not the job for you. You will have to plan  your activites around the army's sched. Also on deployments  you have to stay busy as much as you and army never promises anything. so your husband is apost to be gone for a year but he might get extend to 15 months instead of 12 months. you are no longer in control anymore. look at it as though you are just along for the ride.

Shelbie Fettig wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-29-2010 9:07 AM |

I'm dating a guy who is at training right now and comes home on December 15. Having a relationship with him is amazing but is very hard, espcially when things at home are hard and that they can't be there to comfort you. I was in an car accident on November 5 and when my boyfriend found out, he was so scared for me and was worried sick, he wanted to come home but stayed at training. After I talked to him he was better but I was too, because I was so scared and freaked out. Military relationships can be a great thing and if the couple believes and have faith in each other, then it will work.

lost and found wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 11-29-2010 2:52 PM |

I just started dating my boyfriend in October and he is leaving in March for training...my dad was in the army so I kinda know what to expect...I was there for my mother everyday..I've talked to my mom about what she thought and she told me that she will be here for me just as I was for her, I have people in doubt that we will even make it through training. i'm praying to God that he helps me through this I know I won't last without him...Shawn (my boyfriend) has faith in this and believes we can make it through anything...I'm with him completely...I'm honestly scared...about him leaving but I know that we will make it...Even before they leave it gets hard especially for newbie's like me and my mother...

lorrain wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 01-06-2011 8:46 PM |

The only thing is what if ur dating someone in the army and there off doing there job how do u get to know them? Because there not always there how do u know there not just being on there best behavior when they talk to u ?

Ms.Mickens wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 03-20-2011 11:46 AM |

I've een dating a guy for 5 years we have a 3 year old son together  he's the only guy that I've ever been in a love with. I asked him to marry me last week and he said no because he wasn't ready for all that but  but turns a round a week later and tells me that he's joing the ARMY so he can make a better life for us. Now I'm confused because I don't understand how you can sped five years of your life with someone and not be ready for marriage but you can decide in one night that you 're ready to take a risk with life and our realationship to Join an Army. I'm trying so hard to be supportive of him but it's kind of hard to do when there's a child involved and my heart . WHAT SHOLD I DO????

Cordy wrote re: 167. MILITARY RELATIONSHIPS (part 1): I Didn't Sign Up for This!
on 09-13-2011 10:25 AM |

i think military relaitonships take alot of courage. i dated someone in the military and it was hard. but the courage you have to face makes the realtionship stronger when they leave and you have to deal with them gone and if they willl come back... its hard i know how alot of the wifes and girlfriends feel out there because ive experienced it.