Dating a military guy has its perks; honestly, what woman doesn’t go weak in the knees when she spots a man in uniform? Our armed forces have a duty to serve our country and they are prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice, which can be difficult when you’re dating someone in the military. Case in point: My boyfriend and I were dating for 9 months before he was deployed for a stint in the Middle East with the Army National Guard. He’ll be gone for the same amount of time that we’ve been dating! Although, these months away from one another will test the strength of our relationship, I’m prepared to make the most of my time until his return and keep our relationship on track. It definitely won’t be easy but we’re managing as best we can. Here are some tips for how your relationship can survive a deployment.
1. Discuss the Situation with One Another before the Deployment
Before your significant other deploys, talk about the situation with one another. Discuss where your relationship stands and what expectations you have of one another (i.e. If you have just started dating, will you remain in a committed relationship, or will you date others while he is away, maybe picking up where you left off when he returns?) This will set-up guidelines and give you a sense of security knowing your relationship status. Also, spend as much time together as possible now, of course, taking lots of pictures to reminisce later!
2. Plan Your Methods of Communication
Communication is key. You and your loved one will need to figure out the best way to keep in touch over the long distance and different time zones. Email is easiest, but invest in a free Internet video chatting account, as it is a great way to see each others smiling faces. Timing Skype dates can be difficult, given time differences and the demands of your schedules. Discuss what tools you will use to stay in touch and how often you will communicate.
3. Communicate Often Throughout the Deployment
It will be difficult to feel as though you are still involved in each others' lives when you're living so far apart and doing such different things every day, but communicating often, even in small ways, can help reduce this distance. For example, although you may not have done anything overly exciting at work today, send your significant other a quick email about a movie you watched recently to help him/her know about what you've been doing and thinking about lately. They will enjoy hearing about these moments, just as you will when they message you that they've won a game night or had a great conversation with a friend.
4. Stay in Touch with Your Significant Other's Family and Friends
These folks will help you feel connected to him although he’s thousands of miles from home. Stay in touch through email, or meet every so often for dinner or drinks. Of course conversation will involve your BF, so you’ll learn more about him through his social network; you may even have the opportunity to see some of his embarrassing childhood photos! When he comes home, he’ll be pleased you’ve started a relationship with his family and friends.
5. Don't Forget about Snail Mail
When is the last time you received a letter in the mail? It’s been a while, right? Sending your man a letter, as well as receiving a letter from him, is truly an exciting experience. Taking the time out-of your busy schedule to wax poetic may take some getting used to, but it’s a great way to learn more about each other in a very romantic way. Ask your BF for his address, commonly known as an APO (Army Post Office.) Mail time may lag due to holidays, so send your message with plenty of notice. Oh and did you know that letters sent overseas for military men and women cost the same as if you were sending them domestically? You may need to practice your cursive like I did but he’s sure to feel like a million bucks when he receives your special note.
6. Send a Care Package
Sending a package to your soldier filled with gifts and goodies from home is almost as good, if not better, than sending him snail mail. It’s like Christmas but more frequent! I like to send packages for holidays as well as at unexpected times just to let him know that I’m thinking of him. Send him make your own snow for Christmas, books, gift cards, or bake cookies for special holidays --- anything that is important to your relationship, like the ticket stub from your first movie, will be greatly appreciated and treasured. But if you’re worried that he won’t like what you send, which I’m sure won’t be the case, he’s sure to find someone else on base to share it with instead so your goodies will still be appreciated. Try to keep your package a secret so it will be a surprise when he does get it! And don’t forget, packages are sent through US Mail, so the prices should not be astronomical, no matter where he is stationed overseas.
7. Enjoy This Time to Develop YOU
If you’re like me, you’ve made to-do lists of things that you’d like to accomplish if you had some extra time on your hands, like take a yoga class or visit college friends. For some reason or another, you never get around to crossing these items off your list. Well, now you’ll have plenty of ME time – so be selfish and independent and do things that interest you. Take this opportunity to join a gym, start blogging, find a charity to volunteer with on weekends, or go on mini-vacations with friends. Do things that will make you a better person and you’ll be thanking yourself in the end. So will your boyfriend. He’ll be so proud of you for staying busy and doing things that you love; he’ll definitely be impressed that you didn’t sit at home waiting for him to return. (How boring is that?)
Conclustion Maintaining a relationship during a deployment is tough but it’s worth it. I hope these tips help those going through similar situations. Do you have any more tips to share?