What I Learned From My Military Relationship After He Came Home

There were no words to describe my excitement to hear that my boyfriend would be home before Christmas. His long flight home from Hawaii, where he was stationed, had him land in Minneapolis early in the morning. The night before, I had finished working a late shift and returned home exhausted. Yet, there was so much adrenaline racing through me with the anticipation of the hours until I would see him after months of being apart. I barely slept that night before I was racing out the door at 4 a.m. to pick him up.  He was finally coming home for good; but it made it all the more special to know he’d be home a day before my birthday. After nearly a year of us being apart, I was ready to begin the next chapter of our lives.  Thinking now that he is home and close to me again, I thought everything would be easier. It certainly was a fairytale spending the holidays with him and our families. Eventually, the fairytale wore off. I came to realize that this next chapter, which I believed would be easier, was just as hard, if not harder than being apart for so long. Let me explain:Military relationships are no small feat. They will test you, your partner, and your relationship. These relationships often end badly for countless reasons as they are very hard to maintain. You must accept that your partner is in the military and there’s nothing you can do but give them the love and support they need. Being far apart for so long, I grew to accept it and learned to live my life without him around. So, when he arrived home for good, naturally it was amazing at first. Both of us were excited about all the things we could finally do together. Those feelings lasted about a month or so until things finally slowed down and we both started to realize that things wouldn’t be as easy as we originally hoped.My boyfriend lives with some of his buddies in Minnesota and I live in an apartment with roommates at school in Wisconsin. The drive between us is generally about two and a half hours. Although that is a drastic difference than being 4,000+ miles apart by plane, it’s still a long drive. Being that I’m still in college and work, I don’t always have the time or money to constantly drive there. My boyfriend is also an avid fisherman, so being able to pull a trailer or haul all of his fishing needs is very important to him so he bought his dad’s old truck. It’s perfect for what he wants to do with it, but not so much on the gas mileage. For him coming to see me, it doesn't come without the pricy trips to the gas station. To add to it all, he was gone for three years. He simply wanted to be relax at home and do the things he couldn’t do in the Marine Corps, like going fishing with his buddies all week and drinking a couple beers.I was so thrilled he was finally home and was able to come visit me at college since he had newfound free time and I had priorities at college. I was expecting us to hang out for weeks at a time. But, we were still limited to weekends; since I was so busy and he simply wanted to immerse himself at home. This lack of communication made things hard. I realized months later that it would take him some time to get used to being home after being gone for so long. I knew he loved me and that he was serious about us, but I wasn’t sure how to handle and understand something that I’ve never experienced before. I am not a mind reader and I certainly couldn’t tell you how hard it is to go from being a Marine to a normal civilian. A change that entails now needing to worry about paying rent, buying groceries, and planning out a budget to buy things like a new truck, a house, etc. We’re both learning and discovering things about ourselves and our relationship. Sometimes, the things you think will be easy are some of the hardest things you’ve ever done, and vice versa. Life is crazy, but I believe that’s what keeps us going. If there wasn’t any crazy, then I would have nothing to work for or someone to fight for. I’ve learned how to be a soldier, not for the United States Military like him. But rather, a soldier of love, to always fight for us because I know he has and always will do the same. He will be by my side through the good and the bad, and there’s nobody else I’d rather have there through it all. If you’re reading this and you’re in a military relationship, keep fighting. Keep your head up, because when he arrives home and a new battle may begin, it is so worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I hope my story brings you hope, or that it simply fills your heart with faith that there is still love in this world when it seems that all is destroyed.