by Alicia Scott- Being a wife has always been thought of to be a job. In some instances, it is because you work at it everyday. I have the added pleasure of being young and a military wife. Additionally, I am a full time college student, with a part-time job and a husband that is over 7000 miles away at this time. It hasn’t been easy, but here are my survival tips that I have found very helpful for us in keeping our marriage strong; even from a distance.
- Communication– It seems simple but is is not as easy as one might think. Being a communication major in school, I have learned a lot about what “works” and what “doesn’t work”. When you have a long distance relationship like mine, it is important to reach out to your loved one and let him/her know you appreciate them and their service to this country. Try to avoid misunderstandings but if you encounter them, try to remain calm and clear the air. I also advise using multiple ways of communicating such as call, text, Facebook, Skype, Viber, etc. It helps them feel a littler closer because you are more accessible.
- Time– I am sure we all have busy lives with so many things going on, but making time for your loved one is extremely important. It can be as simple as making time to call them, to devoting an extended period of time on Skype to them. It is important to show them that you are not so caught up in your daily life that you can’t fit them in part of your day.
- Subtle Reminders– Remind him/her how much they are loved as often as you can. Express it! Tell them you love and miss them. Send them gifts that are reminders of home. Go out of your way to show them how much you appreciate them because it is those little things that will get them through tough times; especially if they are deployed.
- Active Listening– While listening is part of the communication process, it should be highlighted. Being in the military, your loved ones go through things that the average civilian will never encounter. If they want to open up to you, listen. Don’t give advice unless asked and don’t cut them off. Be engaged and be honored that they trust and love you enough to be open with you about their feelings and/or challenges.
- Understanding– From my experience, the military changes people. Your loved one is not the same person they were before they joined. Understanding this and being patient is critical to your successful relationship. The changes may be for the better or considered not so good. Either way, it is okay to acknowledge the change, but then show them that they are still loved and cared for despite the change.
- Support and Confidence- Show support and reinforce confidence. Although all of our loved ones are serving our country, they are also fighting to keep us safe and protected. Remind them and any other military personnel that you admire their strength and courage. Thank them for their service to this country. It is not easy knowing your loved one is in harm’s way at times, but reminding them that there are people back home who support them and wish them well helps to boost their morale and spirit. Tell them you keep them in prayer and if you’re not religious, tell them you keep them in your thoughts for safety and wellness. They will appreciate it more than you realize.
- Updates– Keep them in the loop. No one likes being in the dark about things; it’s almost human nature. Tell them what’s going on in the civilian world, such as family, politics, music or the weather. Being married, I try my best to keep my husband up to date on what’s going on with both sides of the family, Illinois politics, or simply how the weather is changing. It helps them feel closer to home since they can’t actually be there.
- Being in the know- Know your loved one’s job in the military. I think we all have encountered our loved ones being stereotyped about being in the military. People usually assume they must be on the front line or that they are blindly killing people, as if they have no brain! There are many jobs in the military so knowing what your loved one actually do is important, not only for your own comfort but to combat the stereotypes others may have.
- Be Helpful– Extend a helping hand. Most of us as civilians are very prideful, so multiply that times 10 and you’ll understand the pride of someone in the military. When I mention “pride” it is from the place of not only in service to this country, but they just may not want to ask for help. Be willing to help where necessary and emphasize that to your loved one. Let them know you are there to listen and taking action. Little surprises can do a lot of good for your loved one being far away from home.
- Have Faith-Putting faith in your loved ones is a very important part of your relationship with them. Many of our military personnel have sacrificed and suffered greatly, ranging from injuries, to mental illness or re-adjustment back into civilian life . It is important that we address any challenges, but equally important that we let them know we still believe in them, their abilities, their worth and their potential. Don’t show pity, show compassion. Remind them that they still have your respect and loyalty.
Those are my 10 tips for you. I may be young but these are things I have learned in 3 years. It isn’t easy being a young military spouse but in the end, I wouldn’t change one thing. Through the ups and downs you may encounter, I hope you will remember some of these tips, and that they will help your relationship and survival as a military spouse.