When it comes to re-enlisting the decision needs to be between the military member and their spouse. They need to talk about the pros and the cons and what life would be like if they stayed in or if they got out of the military.
Should you ask your spouse to get out of the military? Is that the right thing to do? What if you feel like you want military life to be over but they do not? What if they see 20 years and you can barely see how you will make it through the next 20 months until their ETS date?
The answer to this question is a complicated one. In some situations, yes you should and in others it is best to figure out tips to get through military life instead.
How do you know what you should do?
The number one thing to do is communicate your feelings to your spouse. Let them know how you are feeling, why you feel the way you do and what you think you two should do when it comes to their military career. Ask your spouse questions about their career, their goals and where they see themselves five or ten years down the road. It’s possible that they want to leave the military too. Talking things out can put you two on the same page or can help you understand why you don’t see eye to eye.
Think of your family
Life after the military can be hard and stressful. Is your family ready for that? Do you bring in an income now? Will you be willing to work to bring in more income if they get out? Do you have kids that need the extra benefits you get from the military? Would it be better for them to have their Dad or Mom around all the time instead? There is a lot to think about when trying to decide on if your spouse should get out of the military and sometimes that doesn’t even depend on what you and your spouse are experiencing but it depends on what your family is going through and what they need.
Think of your emotional health
I used to think that everyone could make it through military life. That everyone could handle a deployment. But then we went through our 4th deployment and it almost broke me. It was something I had never felt before. I realized that although there is a lot you can do to make it through a difficult situation, sometimes it might be too hard to keep going. Sometimes you will need an extra level of help and sometimes that help is going to be having a spouse that is no longer in the military.
Think of their career
If you and your spouse decided they would join the military together or if you like us decided to give it three years and see what it happens, that is going to be a different situation then if you met your spouse in the middle of their military career or if the long term plan was to be in for at least twenty years. This doesn’t mean things won’t change but I think the situations are so different and do make a difference when it comes to whether your spouse will want to stay in or not. I have met some strong women who have stood by their husbands as military spouses for the last twenty or thirty years. I admire them and I wonder if that could have been me. If my husband really wanted to stay in the Army, if he really wanted to move forward with it, would I have been able to handle that? Or would I have had to ask him to get out and do something else.
Military life is hard. For some, it feels impossible. Regardless of how much their spouse wants this for a career, it might not be the best thing long term. If you are a spouse that is struggling, know that your feelings are valid. You have a lot to talk with your spouse about. You have some decisions to make together. I wish you good luck as you try to figure out how much the military will be a part of your futures.