To the Young Military Spouse Who is Struggling
Being married at a young age can be a fantastic thing. You found the person you want to spend the rest of your life without having to wait years to do so. You can take comfort in the fact that you will get to grow old together, starting in your 20s or even late teens. There is a lot to be excited about when you get married at a younger age.
However, being married young can also be tough. All marriages have their challenges. You can get married in your 30s and be divorced by your 40s. There isn’t a particular age in where you can make sure your marriage will be a good one and will survive, but being young can add some extra stress to your marriage. If you marry young, you will be growing up together, working through issues that other people resolve on their own before marriage. Marrying young means having to push other parts of your life onto the backburner. College and the first few years of your career can be skipped over for an early marriage and becoming a mother. There is so much to think about when marrying young.
Being a military couple adds in other stresses. From being a part through basic and AIT to moving far away from home and then deployments and trainings. No matter how old you are, these stresses can get to you and hurt your marriage if you let them.
For the young military spouse, all of this can lead to plenty of frustrations. While your friends are off at college, you are trying to make a home in a new state with a husband who is off at war. You can no longer relate to them, but you struggle to make friends where you are. This can create loneliness, and that frustration can lead to blaming the marriage or even your spouse for how you are feeling.
So what can you do? What do you do when you feel so helpless and alone? When you wonder if you should have waited a bit longer. When you question if going to college would have been a better choice. What do you do when your spouse is overseas and doesn’t seem to want to talk to you and in some cases even tells you he doesn’t want to be married anymore? What do you do when it seems your marriage is falling apart before it has even had a chance to start?
Remember, all marriages have seasons
There is a time for all things. Some seasons of your life will be happier than others. You will go through challenges as a couple. Money problems, military frustrations, issues with work, with your children and even other people. Some seasons will be easier than others.
Just because being married young is going to be a challenge doesn’t mean your marriage won’t make it
For every couple that married young that didn’t make it, another one did. Try not to listen to those who say you won’t make it because you are so young. They are not a part of your marriage. Keep what’s important in mind and do what you can to make the marriage work.
Military life adds additional challenges
No doubt about it, marrying into the military is going to give you extra challenges. A year-long deployment a few months after you get married is going to challenge you in ways you never thought possible. Remember, you are not alone in going through this. Many couples have gone before you and have gotten through.
Love your spouse through the difficult moments
When things are difficult, keep loving your spouse. Remind them of the time when you fell in love. Write letters, emails and send care packages. Sometimes service members can get into deployment mode and that can complicate things. They might not be acting like the same person you know and love. Keep in mind that deployments can change the way things are and even if they do go back to normal when they get home, you will each grow through them.
Stay busy when they are gone
When your spouse is gone, stay busy. Go to college, online if you can’t go to a physical one. Start working, build up your career. Make friends, make plans. Go out to lunch and plan dinners. Work on your home or get involved in volunteer work. This is always something you can do to stay busy.
Don’t push for babies, enjoy your pre-baby time
This is complicated. Some of you came into the marriage with children. But if you haven’t, wait. Even if you wait until you are in your mid-20s, you will still be a young mom. Children are awesome and can add so much to marriage but they are also a lot of work and getting pregnant right away, especially when they are in the military can be too much for some people. Wait if you can, even if you wait an extra year. Enjoy your pre-baby time because once you start having children, everything changes.
Don’t be afraid of counseling
If you need to, see a counselor. If your spouse won’t go to counseling, go by yourself. Military One Source has a lot of resources. Being able to see a counselor on a regular basis can be a good outlet to help you see what you need to work on and what you two can work on as a couple.
Find older spouses to learn from
Learn from those who have gone before you. Talk to your grandma, your mom or an older sister or friend. They have been through what you are going through in the past and have some words of advice. As you start your military journey, you will be able to connect with other spouses that have been living the military life longer than you have.
Fight for your marriage
Sometimes you will have to fight for your marriage. Sometimes you might be the only one doing so. This is going to wear you out but keep thinking about what you have committed to and commit to working through whatever it is that you need to work through to help your marriage.
Embrace the military life
Being able to embrace the military life is going to help you navigate through the challenges you face. This doesn’t mean that you have to be happy about everything the military does or that you will not go through times when it feels like you can’t make it another day, but being able to look at the positives of this life will be a good idea, especially when first starting out.
Be wary of what you tell your family
When you marry young, you might have just left the home you grew up in. Almost overnight you could have gone from a teenager finishing high school to a spouse. This can be a complicated process, and in some cases, it is hard to make that change. If you and your spouse are going through some difficulties, be careful of what you are telling your family. They can remember what you say and bring that backup years later, even if you have moved beyond it.
Find good friends and choose wisely
Be careful about who you share things with. Not everyone you meet is going to have your best interests at heart. Get out there and make friends but save your secrets for the people you can trust and rely on the most. The ones who you trust to get advice from and those who know how to keep a secret.
So, to the young military spouse that is struggling, you have to want to be married to the person you have chosen to walk down the aisle to. You made that decision, and you have to want the relationship to work. While not everyone who tries for their marriage will succeed, every person that did has tried to make things work, even in the most difficult of circumstances. *
What advice would you give to a younger military spouse?
* If you think you are in an abuse relationship, seek help and figure out a way to get out. You do not need to try to make things work with someone who is hurting you. That is not okay and there are resources out there to help you.