As I was reading through the Military Relationship forums, I was amazed at how many men and women wrote asking advise on marriage, finances, and fidelity issues. Should I get married, should I get married after Basic, my spouse is cheating, I don't know what to do...etc. You get the drift. Many of these stories were heartbreaking, however, being prior military myself I had to remind myself I was only seeing one side of the coin.
Marriage in the best of circumstances is not an easy task. It takes maturity, communication, and plain old hard work. Marriage in the Military world is even harder to maintain. They're not kidding when they say being a Military spouse is the toughest job in the service.
There are so many many reasons not to get married before a deployment or upon initial enlistment in the Military. Especially for the new young troops. Here is my opinion on why.
Most are away from home for the first times in their lives, many right out of High School. They are lonely...someone pays attention to them...usually a young girl or guy that wants to get out of their homes. And let us not forget those that are just looking for that guaranteed income...G.I. (many times found at bars, on first tours overseas, etc.) All of a sudden they are in Basic Training...guess what...no free housing for the spouse. How will you handle housing issues? The troop is away at training for a long period of time or on that first 12 month deployment. Contact is sparse during initial training sometimes for up to a month you may not hear from your soldier. Contact can be sparse for the first few weeks of a deployment or for the entire deployment. It's not always like this to be honest, but it is just way too often.
Getting the picture so far? Guess what happens next?
The spouse is not used to handling things on their own. All of a sudden it's not as romantic and carefree as they thought it would be.
You have your spouse crying, complaining, accusing you of cheating...because thanks to the rumor mill that is FAMOUS on military personals they hear the guys or gals are having a big party 24/7 and sleeping with everyone but you. Troops are worried about their spouses leaving them or cheating. Yes, it does happen...its called the "Dear John" syndrome. There is the stress that the Troop has to deal with in their day to day job. Before you know it you are either in trouble with your command, your divorced (and yup there goes most your paycheck for child support). You can consider yourself lucky if that is all that happens.
If your spouse is going to cheat on you, they will do it whether or not they are in the Military. If your spouse doesn't, then they won't start as soon as they join. If your marriage is based solely on sex than maybe you should rethink things. I know many long loving marriages that have never had that issue even with frequent long deployments. There are ways to keep you intimacy smoking with a little imagination and communication on both of your parts.
Infidelity issues stem from other deep seated reasons and many times immaturity. Oh and guess what? There is this code of military law....UCMJ. They frown deeply on Adultery. And really think about it....your Soldier is working 15 hour days now with no time off, living in tents. Doesn't sound like a wild drunken orgy to me.
Don't rush into marriage. Make sure your expectations of your lives together are not too high. Consider premarital counseling and financial counseling. If you are in your late teens or early twenties...take some time to find out who you are before you take on the responsibility of being a couple and/or parent. You have to realize that your Soldier belongs to the Military and that responsibility must and will always come first.
Another big item. Internet romances. Now I'm not going to say it doesn't work out. I met my Soldier on the Internet and we spent a year doing the emails, web cam, phone calls and we did get to know each other better than most who've been dating for years.
Keep in mind that anyone can say anything on the net. They can put any picture up. And yes they can pretend to be something they are not. Anyone can buy a uniform, dress up in that for a pic. So don't be fooled about that.
Do your research! Never give them personal information. If you do finally meet do it in a public place. Get to know their family. I was talking to my Soldier's Father on the phone when we met on the net. He would call me to see how his son was doing, because he spent all his free time with me. And for God's sake don't rush into marriage. My Hubby says it should be a law that you live together for a year before marriage, and I have to agree with him.
Now for the big one. Infidelity. I read some posts from some very bitter women (and men) that had caught their Soldier and/or spouse cheating on them. Sure it happens. But is because of the Military? NO!
First, you have the suspicious spouse that thinks that just because they are separated that the other spouse can't go without sex. A lot of times the accusations are unfounded, but it ends up adding a tremendous stress on the marriage. No matter what you do or say they will accuse you.
Last but not least we have finances. If you took a survey you would find that most married couples fight about money. You'd be surprised in this day in age those that don't have a clue how to balance a check book. You have those couples where one person pays all the bills and handles all that. Suddenly they are deployed. The other spouse doesn't have a clue how to deal with it. You have the spouse/s who blows whatever money comes in.
Again, much of this comes from immaturity and inexperience in running a household. Believe me no one gets along when there are money issues.
All the above mixed in with the day to day stresses of the Military can wreak any marriage. But it doesn't have to be that way. Being married to the Army or any Branch of the Service, takes commitment, dedication, loyalty, communications, lots of love, and a ton of hard work. Don't give up at the first flicker of trouble. Be open and honest with each other. Talk, talk, and then talk some more. Take the time to do special things for one another. Tell them you are proud of all they do and the sacrifices they make everyday. If problems do arise, take advantage of all the help available through the Military.
Yes, being married to a Soldier is the hardest job you'll ever have, but I will have to say that it is also the most rewarding and loving job you'll ever have.