Being in a serious relationship, an engagement, or a marriage is really hard, right? And being in the military is really hard, right? So being in a serious relationship, engagement or marriage AND being in the military must be next to impossible, right? Well, depends on whose asking, and answering.
My answer is this… it is difficult. It’s sometimes scary, lonely, and vulnerable, but it’s also immensely rewarding, fulfilling, and powerful.
When two individuals join the Army together, they will be entered into a program called the Married Army Couples Program (MACP). The purpose of MACP is to keep the military personnel together by assigning them to joint domicile assignments. The goal is to keep soldiers within 50 miles of one another. Difficulties are presented, especially if the soldiers have two low-density MOS’ (meaning: very rare) such as Diver and Combat Production Specialist, but the branch managers who create assignments are usually very good at keeping soldiers together.
When two individuals are NOT married, they may or may not be stationed at the same base. If they are not, and do not plan to get married, they will be maintaining a long-distance relationship, but it doesn’t have to be for long. Soldiers almost always get to choose their second duty station, so the soldiers can chose the same base and be stationed together.
As far as training, unless the soldiers are within the same unit, they might have different training schedules. Example: SPC Rodriguez goes to Texas to train for 6 weeks in March, and SPC Ramos goes to California to train in September.
Deployments will usually also be part of life, whether it is a humanitarian effort focus, or a combat deployment. If a deployment arises, it is not usual for the two soldiers to deploy at the same time, unless they both advocate to do so.
Day-to-day schedules are typically very similar. Soldiers conduct physical training in the morning, start work around 9am, and get off between 330-630pm, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. Schedules may differ depending on MOS’, for example, if one of the soldiers is in the medical field and working in the hospital, they might work night shifts, or have a 3 days on / 4 days off schedule.
To sum it up, distance is inevitable at some point or another, however it isn’t nearly as bad as people assume. Here is my experience:
Juan/SSG Medina is an infantryman, and I am a medic. When we first met, I was working as a line medic with 2nd brigade of 4th ID, in Fort Carson, and he was a team leader with 1st brigade. Our schedules were about the same, except that he often worked flexible hours.
4 years have come and gone, and we’ve spent most of that time together. There was one year that I can remember having more distance than any other, and that totaled about 4-5 months. Other than that, we almost spend MORE time together than other couples. We get all nights, weekends, and holidays off of work.
The benefits we’ve seen have been endless, and we’re always learning about more. One of the big ones is travel. If you follow either one of my Instagram accounts, you know that travel is a huge passion and hobby of both of ours. In one year alone, we went to Greece, Scotland, Ireland, Jamaica, England, France, and several states within the United States. The fact that we each have an allotted 30 days of PAID vacation every year, plus the 4-day weekends that occur almost every month, makes this not only possible, but convenient. My friends who are in serious relationships or marriages often tell me their struggle to get the same days off to travel, or any days off at all.
Another benefit is support, respect and understanding of each other’s careers. The military life is not something that everyone understands. At the end of the day, it’s amazing to talk to someone who completely understands your career, its needs and demands, etc. You don’t have to explain the military lingo, or try to make someone understand the way things work, or deal with any judgment or misconceptions (and trust me, when the majority of the civilian world doesn’t understand the military, it’s nice to have someone who does). Additionally, they can pack each other’s gear, teach each other tips and tricks, and so on.
Then, you have to remember that the benefits of ONE individual who is serving are extensive, now you have TWO individuals with the same benefits that be used together. Example: the VA home loan—two soldiers can use the VA home loan to basically set themselves up in real estate investing. Let me know if you have more questions about this, I can send you a video that explains it real nicely. Pay is one of these benefits; two soldiers serving will both receive an additional allotment of money for being married.
I could go on and on about my experience, and the experiences of those close to me, but that would be a very long post. Have I met couples who broke up or divorced because of the demands of military life? Yes. Is the divorce rate higher in the military? Yes. But, is it much different than the civilian world? No… People break up; people cheat, they lie, they grow apart, they realize they want different, etc. JUST LIKE IN EVERY AND ANY OTHER PROFESSION. It’s part of life. If you’ve never been heartbroken, you’re lucky and one of the few.
What I will say, is that being in a serious relationship and/or marriage in the military is a true test. If the love is real, it will last, and if it isn’t, it won’t. Simple. It takes the same, and maybe a little more, effort than any other relationship. You’ll grow together, faster than other individuals and couples outside of the military, and you’ll have a deep level of mutual understanding. Your relationship will be built on mutual respect, understanding, compassion, patience, and love. As with any other relationship, all it takes is choosing each other, every day when you wake up.
Feel free to comment or message with questions and comments, and like if you found this helpful. Thanks for reading, and I wish you all the best.
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