What I've Learned From Being in a Long-Distance Military Relationship

After almost nine months of being in a long-distance military relationship, I’ve learned a thing or two; one of those things being that it can be extremely tough. It will seem like the whole world is challenging you, but despite our hardships, my boyfriend and I have created the best relationship I’ve ever been in. Our love sees no boundaries and we are stronger than ever before. These types of relationships make you tough and once you and your partner are finally together, you’ll realize that all those days separated were so so worth it. So after all these months, these are the key elements I’ve learned and have come to know very well on dealing with being in a long-distance military relationship.

1.Compromise is Key.

Just like any other relationship, compromise plays a big role when you and your partner are in different time zones, which can make things tricky. For example, since I am ahead in time by five hours, I stay up late and sacrifice a couple hours of sleep to talk to him. In return, he stays in a lot more after work to talk to me. There will be a lot of sacrifices when you’re in a long-distance military relationship. My boyfriend and I are both very busy so it’s important that we both compromise on things like how long we talk, who texts/calls first, things we do for each other, etc. It’s very important to understand where each person stands and to find a middle ground otherwise you’ll end in fights that could’ve been prevented.

2. Accepting the reality... It can suck.

There’s no easy way to say this, but sometimes long-distance military relationships can really suck. There’s no doubt that you’ll find nights where you’re alone in bed missing them and wondering what they’re doing and wishing they were there with you. Long-distance relationships alone can be hard, so that makes long-distance military relationships that much harder. You will always be missing them, and vice-versa. One thing my boyfriend always reminds me is that “it can always be worse”. Although that can be kind of a crappy way to put it, it is true. Things could always be worse, so it makes you that much more appreciative of the fact that they are there in your life, safe, and alive. Just because these types of relationships are tough doesn't mean they aren't worth it. You learn so much about yourself and your partner and the love that continually holds you two together despite the miles between you two.

3.Communication is EssentialCommunication is required for a good and healthy relationship. Every relationship is different. But personally, I think quick little texts like, “I’m going to the store quick, I’ll call you when I’m done” or “Good morning I hope you have a great day” are extremely important. They are simple yet let each other know what’s going on and make them feel part of your life still. Communication ranges from short texts to bigger topics like your thoughts and feelings on certain things. Let each other know if they are doing something you don’t like, or if they aren’t doing something that you wish they would be doing. Don’t expect the other to be a mind reader. Even if you have arguments, do your best to push those angry thoughts aside to talk about the problem and come to a solution. Being in a relationship, you are a team; which means you are on the same side and have to work together. Yes, work. It will be work sometimes, but the more you talk about it, the better. This stands true for everyone you encounter, whether it be work, family, or friends; communication is essential.

4.The little things are the Big things A big part of being in a long-distance military relationship is that the little things are the big things. Those good morning or goodnight texts can mean so much. Things like spontaneous texts are sweet too. I tell my boyfriend that I love him every chance I get because honestly, you never know what tomorrow could bring. What if that phone call or text was the last thing they will receive? Being in a relationship where your partner is thousands of miles away, you don’t always get to do the big things like go out on a date together, so those little things will add up. Alternatively, if there’s something that bothers you about your partner or the relationship that seems minor in the beginning, speak up about it before it blows up into a bigger problem. Don’t let them eat away at you and keep pushing them off. Tackle them as soon as possible.

5.PatienceGood things come with time. A relationship is one of those things. Even if you have a solid relationship built, there will always be room to grow and improve. Now, long-distance military relationships will teach you patience as the military system can be grueling and they will spend much of their time at work. It’s important to understand that most things are completely out of their control and you just have to roll with the punches. Your patience will be tested constantly and waiting for them to come home can feel like forever, but you have to hold on. They want to come home just as badly, so just take a deep breath and relax. And for the record, it won’t last forever.

6.Live your Own lifeJust because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to spend every second waiting by the phone or talking to your partner every chance you get. You need to have your own separate life just as much as they do. Get involved with your friends and family and do things you enjoy. Spend your time on yourself and do things that make you happy. Although your partner is a huge part of your life, they are not your whole life. You had a life before you met them, and you still have one now. Taking a break to spend with others is a great way to keep the relationship healthy so that when you come back together and talk on the phone, you have lots of exciting news to talk about with each other. Long-distance military relationships will teach you that you need to have other hobbies because there will be a lot of time spent alone so why not go have some fun while you’re at it.

7.Get CreativeThe most common types of communication while being in a long-distance relationship is texting or calling, but there are so many other apps now like Duo and Skype for video calling or Snapchat for fun pictures and small video clips. The possibilities don’t just stop there, sending packages to each other, handwritten letters, and much more. Find ways to keep the relationship exciting and engaging for both and it will surely be appreciated. Have “date nights” where you video call while you’re making dinner, playing a game of Would You Rather, or read a book to each other. There are a lot more possibilities out there than you probably think.

8.Make a Routine

Although each day is different and sometimes you just never know what to expect, trying to set a routine can be helpful. This can be through sending good morning and goodnight texts to each other daily. Doing things routinely can help bring comfort. Some things that my boyfriend and I do routinely are exchanging each other good morning texts, a couple Snapchats during the day if possible, and then usually a long phone call before bed to catch up with each other and talk about our day, the next couple days plans, and other things going on in our lives. Doing this as often as possible makes me feel comforted; knowing what to expect when we don’t always know what’s going to happen.

9.Make PlansDon’t be afraid to make plans with your partner. This can mean for when they return home on leave, come home for good, or even long term too. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you want in the future and where you see yourselves ending up. This is a good way to see what your partner wants in life. Where you two may end up could lead to other conversations. Making plans short term is also important. This can be Skyping at 8 p.m. to talk, but always make plans. This lets your partner know that they are committed to you and think about the relationship long term.

10.Have a support system

These types of relationships aren’t always easy. Having friends or family who are actively supportive of you and your relationship is crucial because bottling up your thoughts and feelings isn’t very good for you either. When you’re given advice, be open to it and be honest with yourself and your partner. Although your partner will always be there for you, having that support system to help you through an argument or when you feel lonely and sad can be extremely helpful. It’s also important to remember that you’re never in it alone. There will always be someone there who will listen and help you along. Having that support system is also great to share exciting news as well. Whether it’s your friends, family, a neighbor, they will all be rooting for you and your partner.

There is no guidebook to these types of relationships. Each day will be a completely new day and you have to prepare yourself for the unexpected. If I gave advice on how to handle these types of relationships, I’d say you have to just roll with the punches. You have to know that you both have busy lives and have a to-do list longer than Santa’s list, but you need to also make time for each other. These relationships take time to get used to and to find a balance but once you do, you will start to see the love growing and the strength of the relationship become stronger than ever before. If I could do it all again, I would a thousand times over because I’ve never loved someone so much. Even if he is thousands of miles away, he is always here in my heart.