S.A.S.S. (A Military Support Group)

A Difficult World

    No woman ever expects to fall in love with a soldier. Yet it happens. Nearly every day. It's not an easy road to walk down, but you're not alone. Meet Emmie, an Army Girlfriend, as she shares advice and her personal experiences.

Advice from an Army Girlfriend

- Emmie

                I never imagined myself as a military girlfriend, yet here I am.  I’ve learned quite a lot through my short exposure to the armed forces, and I definitely look forward to figuring out more about life in the military.  Some of the things that I’ve found helpful are to ask questions and make friends in similar situations.

                I’ve always been a big “question-asker”, probably to a fault.  Sometimes I worry that I’m one of those two-year-olds that just keep saying “but why?”  I’m a firm believer in asking questions as to why things are done the way they are, what the purpose is, and how it all works.  I have quite a few male friends in the Army, and a few of them have talked about how they meet girls who have absolutely no interest in what they do for a living.  Take an interest!  Ask what your significant other does and try to understand their reasons for doing what it is they do.  For awhile I was really frustrated with my boyfriend because his schedule was really unpredictable and I could never properly plan an evening with him.  But once I found out about how his schedule is determined by the “higher-ups” and the many facets of his job, I was more understanding about the late nights and early mornings.  It really DOES make sense if you know the whole story!

                I wouldn’t call myself a social butterfly, but I do find it relatively easy to make a friend in most situations.  I love learning (hence grad school), especially through people.  I’ve made friends with other Army girlfriends (some in my grad program) and also found a great circle of Army wives that I can connect with and ask important questions.  Not only is it nice to have a great group for questions, but often they are there for me when I’m having a bad day and just need to talk to someone.  “You know what, sometimes I just hate the Army and how it takes me boyfriend away from me!”  (I honestly think that everyone, girlfriend or wife, has these days at some point.)

                Again, I am new to being a significant other in the military, but these things have helped me keep my sanity so far.  I have also found that honest communication is key (as it is in any serious relationship).  Let your soldier know what’s going on in your life/head, and make sure he knows it so that he won’t be confused if you call saying you’re upset that you haven’t heard from him in 3 weeks.  I had a period recently where my soldier wasn’t emailing as often as I’d like.  I finally got on and told him that it was bothering me that I heard from him so rarely.  He was honest with me and told me that it was a combination of him working too hard and also that he was trying to shut down his emotional side a bit.  We’ve tried to compromise, with me having realistic expectations of when is able to contact me (when not working like a dog) and with him making a strong effort to stay connected while deployed.

                Relationships are difficult and the military can only increase that difficulty, but love is definitely worth fighting for.

My Personal Experience

- Emmie

I never expected that dating someone in the military would be easy, but so far I have learned so much about myself in terms of patience and understanding.  I’m sure other military girlfriends will agree, when you’re dating a military man, you are also dating the military.  In the last year, I have learned firsthand what this all entails.

I met my boyfriend, Ken, in late May of 2010.  His roommate was dating one of my classmates, and my classmate invited me to a running club that they were all a part of.  At this time in my life, I had been single for over two years, and I was becoming burnt out on school.  It was so refreshing to get outside and run through the countryside with a bunch of military guys (great scenery all around, lol).  I got along with everyone in the running group, including Ken, but I wasn’t interested in starting a relationship with a military guy.  I mean, they travel a lot and their schedules are unpredictable – who would want to date/marry that?  I soon found out that you don’t fall in love with a military man, you fall in love with a man who happens to work for the military.

I was very hesitant at first to go out with Ken, but soon he showed me that he isn’t some punk in the Army.  He’s a very motivated man with goals and a desire to do well in life.  He just happened to choose the Army along the way.  He believes in doing the right thing and taking care of the important people in his life.  He was up front and honest with me on our first day – he had a deployment date.  I figured I would take things slow and see how it went.  Who knows if we would get along enough to last to his deployment in November?  Well we ended up spending a lot of time together over the summer, with weekend trips, group runs, and just hanging out on the couch.  I gained a best friend and I worried what would happen when school started in August and November grew closer.

The two months leading up to November were very straining.  I had grad school taking up all of my time, and training sessions kept Ken at work late.  I was worried; after dating my boyfriend for only 4 months, would he think it was worthwhile to continue dating while he was overseas?  When November arrived, we decided to stay the distance and continue our relationship into the deployment.  It started as a leap of faith but has now grown into a constant prayer.  November has come and gone, and now I’m nearly two months into this yearlong deployment.  Ken and I talk occasionally via Skype, and I get emails when he has time, but the reality is that it’s very difficult to maintain a relationship over a deployment.  Especially since Ken has very limited time to himself, he isn’t able to communicate as often as he’d like.  We are still working to continually get to know eachother and grow closer to eachother.  Though we are living our lives apart, we do our best to stay connected.

I feel blessed to have Ken in my life (even though he isn’t physically here right now), and I’m looking forward to the day when he’s back in my arms.  Maybe marriage is down the road?  I can’t know for sure, but until then I will continue to take it one day at a time.