Honestly, you have a better handle on the realities of being a military spouse than most folks your age. The overwhelming majority of first-term enlisted marriages do not survive that term of enlistment. Some do, but most don't. That's largely because of unrealistic expectations and the demands made on ANY...
Best answer: Honestly, you have a better handle on the realities of being a military spouse than most folks your age. The overwhelming majority of first-term enlisted marriages do not survive that term of enlistment. Some do, but most don't. That's largely because of unrealistic expectations and the demands made on ANY new marriage.
You're at least starting from realistic expectations. You know there will be long periods of separation; that you'll be largely independent much of the time, etc. That's good. You're not starting from pie-in-the-sky ideas of what married life will be.
Rather than try and break down what to expect and not (and there are better resources for that than Y!A -- Family Readiness / Family Support will be your point of contact for specifics), I'll hit the big three things that cause problems.
#1 -- First and foremost is money. Money can be a serious problem in any marriage; old or young. That is significantly compounded by being in the military. People have different ideas about spending and saving, how to prioritize money, who pays for what, where discretionary money comes from, etc., etc. That's highly personal so you two need to come to a consensus about how you'll handle money. There will be plenty of times where you'll need to be the one handling things at home while he's gone. Some folks are better at trusting their spouse than others about that. If he doesn't trust you with the finances or you don't trust him with them, this isn't going to work long-term. First-term enlistees don't make much so budgeting will be key. When one person makes more than the other (because you're going to need a job) that imbalance can be a source of friction.
On that, I'll offer some insight from my own life and you can take it or leave it as you wish.
To begin with, "equal" and "equitable" aren't the same thing. Equal is 50/50. Equitable is what is fair under a given set of circumstances. With that understanding, my wife and I looked at our total income to start. Of the total we make together, my income accounts for about 65% of that; hers about 35%. So I deposit 70% of my check into our joint account and 30% into my personal account. She deposits 40% of her check into the joint account and 60% into her personal account. That results in us each contributing slightly more than our fair share of our respective incomes to our joint account that pays for rent, groceries, bills, and other expenses that apply to both of us. And we each retain a fair share of our own money to do with as we wish. There's no fighting about "you spent $50 on crap now there's no money for groceries!" I have my money to spend, she has her money to spend, that amount we each have is proportional to our respective incomes, and we each contribute proportionally to our joint expenses. Joint money and personal money stay separate. We've been doing it that way for almost ten years now and it has worked wonderfully for us.
#2 -- Family & social structure. You already understand many of the hardships you can expect. Again, mitigating that mostly comes down to talking about it first and agreeing on things before they become a problem. There are resources on base for Family Support. Use them.
How will you handle leave to visit family? Do you want kids right away or in a few years (or not at all)? What about your job? Are you OK with quitting and finding a new job every time he gets orders? What about school? If you're in college now are you OK with trying to transfer when he gets new orders? Your life will be beholden to his. The military will not take your job or schooling into consideration when cutting his orders. Is he planning on one enlistment or does he want to try and make a career out of this? Be clear with each other about both his goals and yours and how you intend to meet those. "A dream written down with a date is a goal. A goal broken down into steps is a plan. A plan backed by action is a reality."
#3 -- Your relationship. As you well know, you'll be spending significant periods of time apart. That's just plain hard on a relationship no matter who you are. Relationships need active attention. Physical affection matters and when you don't see someone for six months, your relationship can wither. Learning how to spend time together and time apart is important. It can be hard to make friends and establish a social circle. Make it a point to find other spouses you can talk to.
Above all, you are a team and you should approach everything that way. When you play on a team, you do what you can to help your teammates succeed. You anticipate their needs and make a play to make that happen. That's how the whole team succeeds. No one person is responsible for everything and no one person makes the team succeed or fail. It's about how well the team plays together. That's true in marriage too. Just because something is "your" job or it's "his" responsibility doesn't make you not part of the team. Sometimes you need to be the one to make a play and sometimes he does. You support each other by recognizing that he needs you to be the best you that you can be. You need him to be the best him that he can be. You do that by helping each other grow as people. A better "me" and a better "you" make a better "us".
3 days ago