Being in a relationship is always an adventure. It's great to have a best friend that you can kiss whenever you'd like. Slap long-distance, and the military on top of that, and you got yourself the hardest, best relationship you will ever have. Officially, I have been with my Marine for over a year now and have no plans on changing that. I do not claim to be a professional at this whole thing, and I realize there are others who have plenty more years and experiences under their belt than I do. Although, I have learned one or two things along the way on this journey thus far.
Going into this relationship, I have never had prior experience of being in a military relationship, nor did I have much knowledge of anything that would come along with it except for what I have seen in the movies and people telling me it would be hard. After deciding to dive in head first, I can easily say that I'm so glad we took a chance on each other. Of course there have been ups and downs, countless "I miss yous" shared, but above all, falling in love more with each other every day. So without further babbling, here are some tips for the newly dating military couples that have to go through long-distance.
1. Contact and communication.
If you are too far from where your man or woman is stationed and cannot see them for months at a time, try to make sure you hear from each other at least once a day. Even if it's only to say good morning or goodnight. That'll help to let each other know you're thinking about them, and probably put a smile on their face. Texting is a beautiful thing and should be used! Text as much as you can. It's not always the way you probably want to talk, but it's the fastest, and easiest way to keep in contact while you both are trying to go about your daily lives being apart from each other.
2. Treat every leave like a holiday.
Because it is! Your military significant other (MilSo) coming home is a special occasion! Personally, the most time I get with my Marine when he comes home is about two weeks, give or take a little. If this is the case for you (but even if it's not) do not take a single moment for granted! Spend as much time with him or her as you can. Make a list in advance, before they come home, of things you want to do together. Take thousands of pictures together, and then take a hundred more. You will be glad you took those once he or she has to leave.
3. FaceTime, Skype, ooVoo, do it all.
Going along with tip #1, seeing each other face-to-face is always the best option for communication. If you can't be in person looking at each other, the next best thing is looking at each other via a video platform. If you and your MilSo are in different time zones, create a "usual" time to video chat each other. That way you always have a time set and you won't have to worry about what time it will be there and what time it will be by you when you're trying to figure out when you want to chat. You'll only have to pick a day. Video chat is not necessary to do every day, but I definitely encourage to do it at least once a week if it is possible. It helps the other not seem so far away, and let's face it, you know you want to see that cute smile of theirs every chance you get.
4. Befriend others that are dating, or married to, someone in the military.
I quickly learned that knowing other girls who are married to men in my boyfriend's platoon is great. Especially because they're great! They are wonderful company when you just want to talk to someone, want to be comforted, or need to be reminded that you are not the only one going through the struggle of military long-distance. They are also the only ones that will 100 percent understand what you are going through, and how it feels. Because they are going through it at the same time you are or have previously gone through it. Of course you can always turn to your other close friends, as well! My friends are a great help to me, and I love them unconditionally for trying to understand where I'm coming from. But the truth is that no one will understand better than someone else experiencing it, too. So get yourself introduced, and make new friends!
5. Keep yourself busy.
Especially when your MilSo is deployed. The military will be keeping your significant other busy, so you should keep busy, too! Take up a hobby, go out with your friends, take extra shifts at work. If you don't get to hear from your MilSo for days at at time, when you do, you'll have new things to share with them! It makes the time go by faster, and you'll be happy you're doing different things.
6. Get educated.
Ask your MilSo questions about his or her job! It'll show that you are interested in what they do, that you care about what they do, and that you want to understand so you can have discussions about what's going on with them. I, personally, love hearing my MilSo talk about his job, learning new things and the lingo. It's fun to learn, so start asking questions!
7. Don't compare your relationship to non-military relationships.
You might catch yourself looking at other couples and thinking, "I wish my significant other was here," or something along those lines. Try not to do that. Keep in mind that they're in a completely different situation than you. Also, every relationship goes through their own thing at some point. Understanding and accepting that distance is your relationship's thing will help. It might hurt that your MilSo can't be here right now, but just remember how amazing it's going to feel once you get to see them again.
8. Learn the ins and outs of the airport.
The airport will simultaneously become your best friend, and your worst enemy. This is where the beginning of leave starts, and where it ends. It's a busy place, so learn about where to go before you have to pick your MilSo up. Otherwise you'll be circling forever trying to find him or her. I learned that the hard way.
9. Ignore the negative people.
I have run into people that have asked me why I'm in this relationship, tell me that it's not worth it, tell me our relationship isn't real because we're not together often, and more. If you ever come across someone like that, AVOID THEM. I must admit, sticking up for my relationship makes me feel powerful, but it still hurts to know that there are people with the nerve to say that to me. Just remember your relationship is your own and as long as you love it, that's all that matters.
10. Love unconditionally and be patient.
Being in a relationship like this requires patience and tons of love. You will become each other's best friend and support system. When things don't go the way you guys had hoped, or the going gets tough, you will always have each other to turn to. Even if you're miles, states, or countries apart, your MilSo will have your back. You are each other's cheerleaders and don't ever forget that!
I will not tell you that being in a military relationship is easy breezy; but I will tell you until I am blue in the face, that it is worth it! I love my relationship, my boyfriend, and everything that comes with it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. You just have to hang in there and look forward to the future. There's always the next leave to look forward to, no matter how far away it is! It'll be here before you know it.