To All the Girls in a Relationship With Someone in the Military

Hi, my name is Catherine Le and I'm in a relationship with a military man. I feel like this intro makes me sound like I'm in a support group. I just want to say I initially never wanted to be in a relationship with someone in the military, so let me give you some background. I have been dating this guy for about three years now. He's my high school sweetheart and joined the military about two years ago.

He is in the Army National Guard, which is similar to the reserves, but separate. I know what you're thinking: they're essentially both reserves, but the military gets complex and specific. It basically means that he gets to live at home with me until he goes away for a weekend to train and work once a month. This also includes any deployment for when Florida goes into a state of disaster and a two-week training period once a year. All this is after he went through a six-month-long training period where he was unable to contact me outside of writing letters to each other. I want to clarify something before assumptions are made—it is not easy regardless of how deep the military commitment is.

Now, I'm saying this as a girl with strong emotional feelings who's not going to ignore them. I am emotional and enjoy being around my significant other a lot because that's kind of the point of a significant other: they're your best friend and you get to be with them romantically. Kind of the best of both worlds. So I may come off kind of clingy and whiny in this, but I'm writing this for all those other people in relationships with military people. It is hard. I mean, no matter how much that person prioritizes you and loves you, you will never come before the military. The worst part is it's not even up to them—legally they have to prioritize the military as laid out when they enlist. This means that a girlfriend having a birthday will never be an adequate excuse to miss a training day.

So far, my boyfriend has missed two anniversaries and multiple important holidays. The reason most people in the military rush to marry their significant other is so their significant other is actually recognized by the military. Since marriage is not on my list of things to do before I'm 30, I'm just a girlfriend and all the things I do to support him are all but written off.

I haven't even mentioned the strain due to the consistent communication it takes to support a relationship. Now I know what you're thinking: all relationships require communication. Well, if you thought swallowing your feelings because your boyfriend didn't text you in the morning was annoying, let me tell you about having to swallow your feelings about how he has to disappear for a whole two months for a hurricane. The communication required to ensure the relationship is smooth is a lot. To say the least, the military is incredibly strenuous on a relationship. So far due to the military, I have driven from Colorado to Florida on my own, been left alone during vacation, done assignments that weren't my own and many other countless things to support my military man.

Now, you're probably thinking: "Wow, if it's so difficult, why don't you just break up with him?" Well, that's the thing: no matter how hard it gets, I love him so I refuse to. He's out there making a name for himself and doing something that makes him proud of himself. For me to punish him for something like that by leaving him is cruel. It's already difficult as is for him. He's not enjoying himself as he trains super hard. He's not enjoying himself when he has to make up assignments for missing class. He's not enjoying himself when he has to miss fun events that everyone else gets to enjoy. He's not enjoying himself when he can't be with me. It is equally as hard on him as it is on me. So since I love him, I could never leave him. All I can do is my absolute best to support him and love him. Military relationships (and all relationships) are hard work, but work worth doing for the right person.

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