Close
You are now leaving the Military OneSource website.
Thank you for visiting our site.

Close
You are now leaving the Military OneSource website.
Thank you for visiting our site.

Close
You are now leaving the Military OneSource website.
Thank you for visiting our site.
    

5 Ways to Spark Fun in Your Relationship

 Posted by on May 18, 2016 at 11:08
May 182016
 
Dani

Dani

Our lives get really busy, and with frequent separations as military spouses, it can be easy to fall into a rut and stop investing time in your relationship. Here are five easy ways to get those sparks flying!

  1. Recreate your first date. How fun does this sound? Our first date was several states away from where we are now, but I already have some great ideas as to how I can make this happen. Find a similar place, wear similar clothes, plan similar activities. Such a great way to bring back that initial spark! If your first date was less than stellar, there’s no harm in switching things up a bit. Have fun with it!
  2. Make a bucket list together. Sit down and work together to create a list of things you want to do either together or as a family. This gets you talking about things you’ve always wanted to do and puts you both on the same page, while giving you something to work for as a couple. It can be a life-long bucket list, a list of things you want to explore or visit in your current area, or even little things. Going to a bar or bookstore together, cooking dinner together once a week, or finding a new place to watch the sunrise are just as worthy and sometimes more attainable.
  3. Disrupt your routine. Taking a break from the day-to-day monotony always stirs things up a bit. Discuss something you would like to change within your daily regimen, such as waking up early to have a cup of coffee together. Or, get a little crazy and plan a date night with friends instead of just the two of you. Seeing other people also helps to switch things up and it’s fun to spend time out with other couples!
  4. See a counselor. I get that this scares some people, but it’s also a great tool to reignite that spark! Even if you don’t have any major issues, it’s helpful to talk about things and be proactive in creating and maintaining a meaningful and joyful relationship with your spouse. My husband and I see a counselor to discuss how we communicate with each other, and we always leave our sessions feeling empowered and enlightened. Whether you go weekly, monthly or every three to six months (as we tend to do), it helps to have that little checkup to keep your relationship strong.
  5. Laugh together. They say laughter is the best medicine, so make that extra effort to get some laughs in! Plan a date to a comedy club or to see a comedian, rent a funny DVD so you can laugh as loud as you want on your couch at home, or make a list together of your funniest memories or things your kids say. When needed, refer to your list. You could even learn a silly new joke to share. Sometimes the more goofy it is, the more funny it seems!

Whether your relationship needs a little pick-me-up or a serious wakeup call, taking a little time to invest in your marriage is key to maintaining a lasting, loving relationship. By nurturing, encouraging, and investing time and effort into it, you can keep that spark going or reignite it when needed.

You Can Do Anything 2 Times, Right?

 Posted by on October 6, 2015 at 10:56
Oct 062015
 
Guest Blogger Julie Green

Guest Blogger Julie Green

Blogger Biography: Julie GreenI am mom to one hot mess of a toddler, wife to a Navy sailor, and dedicated mosquito slayer (I am on the marketing team at an outdoor pest control company.) I love writing about life, whether that’s being a working mom, a military spouse or just being a woman — beautiful chaos and hilarity ensues with all of that.

 

The days and nights leading up to a deployment can be the hardest on your heart. There is a clock above your head that ticks louder and faster as the date draws near. Sometimes you aren’t sure you can handle the pressure, but you do. The date comes…and then goes. You watch the plane take off, you watch the ship sail away or you drive away from the base wondering how you’re going to get through this deployment.

The first couple of months actually fly by, and I sit back and think, “Man, I can do this. I’ve got this.” I let myself free float out of protection mode and into automatic pilot. And while I do in fact “have this,” I hit a mental wall a few weeks ago. I find myself feeling very lucky because I have a job I adore and an insane 2.5 year old that keeps me busy — very, very busy. From the time he wakes up in the morning until I lay down at night, my days are full. Of course, I think about my husband all the time, but I’m going 100 miles per hour. I’m distracted. And for the first couple of months I put my son to bed and find anything and everything to do to keep moving. You would think my house would be spotless, right? Ha. I wish. Turns out my after-hour distractions do not include cleaning or laundry. I digress.

One evening I check the mail, and I have a letter from that sweet husband of mine. I’m reading and smiling because he starts telling me all the things he misses about me. He misses earrings not making it to the jewelry box, soda cans all over the house and the string of clothes on the floor that stretches from our bedroom door all the way to the shower. (He must love me if he is misses my annoying habits.) But in the letter he asks me, “What do you miss most about me?” I read this, fold the letter up and immediately go about distracting myself.

This nags at me for a week. I find myself thinking about it driving, in the shower, on my lunch break. What do I miss most? I come home one evening and after getting my child to bed, I pour a glass of wine and revisit the letter. I come to my answer, get out a pen and a paper to write him a letter back — and the floodgates open. Thankfully I have an amazing sister who sits on the phone with me and lets me ugly cry my way through the first “I miss him so much I am physically hurting” night and then has me laughing hysterically by the end of the conversation. It happens, but it passes.

These are times it is important to lean on the support system you have. Sometimes these people aren’t the family you’re born into —they’re the connections you’ve made along this journey. Maybe that connection is another spouse from the command, with whom you have lots in common, or the coworker who has been through umpteen deployments. Maybe, like me, it is your sister who has no idea what you’re going through, but just loves you and lets you vent.

If you’re wondering what I miss most — to answer the big question — it is being his wife. I miss the quiet moments in the evenings spent with my legs draped over him on the couch— me on my tablet and him watching yet another military movie. I miss waking up in the night and hearing his slow, steady breathing, and cooking dinner at the stove when he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist (while sneaking food off the counter).

It isn’t fun to think about (especially when you have six months of the deployment left), and I don’t even make it through the letter that night. But, while sharing a cup of coffee with a veteran spouse and telling her about the letter and my fears, she asks me if I had blogged about it. She reminds me that writing is cathartic for me and says maybe I should consider it. It could help not only me, but others going through the struggles of deployment. So here I am, deleting and re-writing, inserting, and copying and pasting my way through a really hard blog post.

That’s life though, right? Trying to delete, re-write, and copy and paste things so they look really pretty when, in fact, life sometimes just isn’t really pretty. Some days are good and some days are rough. Yesterday marks three months, and my son and I are doing awesome. If we made it through the first three months, we only have to do that two more times, and you can do anything twice. Right? I feel blessed that I found that husband of mine to love and miss — even if he comes with a side of deployment.

 

 

Begin Your Summer Romance

 Posted by on May 19, 2015 at 07:00
May 192015
 

Surrounded by marriages that dissolved either early on or fell apart over the years, one thing I think we have done well is remembered to nurture each other, most of the time. Well, a lot of the time. Fine, every now and then….Truthfully it’s hard to keep the “romance” alive all the time, especially with so much change. I think of romance as the bloom of a rose bush. It wilts, dies quickly and leaves behind sturdy green stems, leaves and thorns. If you’re patient and attentive, the blooms will come again. It doesn’t mean you don’t get stuck by a thorn or two along the way.

Kelli

Kelli

Lately as we’ve moved from active duty to retired, from one state to another, a new job for him, had to learn to be with each other all the time, transitioned our children to new schools, learn to be good parents to our adult children and become full-time grandparents, all at the same time, doesn’t leave much time for romance. We’re old, we’re tired and we’re oh so familiar with each other’s faults and what irritates us about the other.

With summer approaching, we need a summer romance. Doesn’t everyone? Every relationship needs a boost, some nurturing, some “Summer Lovin’.” Thanks to Olivia Newton John and John Travolta that song is now stuck in my head, and now yours. You’re welcome.

What’s the best way to start that fire burning again? Why, a love letter, of course. But when you’ve lived together as long as we have what exactly do you write about?

Dear Sweetheart,

Lately, I have been overcome by events; Laundry, children, work, pretending to think about maybe making dinner again one day. It’s been many years since we first fell in love. I am more full figured than the night we met with a few more character lines in my face and if I stopped spending all our money on highlights, you’d see more silver streaking through my hair.

I endured 2 a.m. personal pity parties lying wide awake counting on my fingers what time it was where you were. I experienced things like hurricanes with six children, three dogs and a fence flying away, documenting as each panel succumbed to Mother Nature, all the while reporting in real time to you over in the sandbox with a smile.

You moved me to places I didn’t think I wanted to go and then moved from places I thought I never wanted to leave, saying goodbye to friends who became family. I held back tears knowing I’d never find them that close to me again.

I picked up and moved because it was you I wanted to spend my life with.

You were home, then you weren’t, then you were, then you weren’t. I told you one time you were only visiting and to stop messing up our schedule. That was fun figuring out how to be a partner, lover and companion to you regardless of if you were in the same room or on the other side of the world.

Somehow we did it. It was a tango that didn’t always go smoothly the first few steps when you returned or when you went. Two TVs and our own remotes helped…

You jumped out of airplanes, I held my breath. I delivered babies, you cheered me on. You dove into the oceans I said silent prayers. I was left alone with our children; you said I could do it. I said I was ruining them; you said just keep them alive, I’ll be home soon.

Our life has not been a journey of sexy music, candle-lit dinners and weekly date nights.

I’ve loved you through it all.

summer romance

Kelli and her husband

Standing on this side of 28 years together I clearly see the romance that was there. Not how it’s written in romance novels. Like the time you silently began picking up the glass that broke when I tried to throw a shoe at you and missed terribly. Your calm kindness not only dissolved my anger, but your comment “Stand back, you’ll hurt yourself,” while I stood on the other side of the room caused me to giggle.

Or how about all those times you took leave to relax and I lured you into my weekly schedule? You were more tired at the end of the week than when you took leave.

You jump right in when I start a new project like bee keeping. I know those glares you shot my way were just pretend.

The most romantic gesture was the time you came home from work and I was pregnant with our fourth baby. I was running out the door as you came in to go to a meeting and you looked around the house. There was certain level of destruction beyond normal that evening. You sighed, took off your cammie blouse and said, “Well, I guess I’ll clean up before I cook dinner.” I fell in love with you all over again in that moment. I kissed you and quickly left. I needed to go. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

Now we still stand side by side as we leave active duty and enter “retired” status. We are now the “old people” — the ones I feared becoming when we attended our first Marine Corps ball 26 years ago.  Life has been a whirlwind of change as it has always been since the day we met. I just wanted to take a minute, stand in the eye of the storm and tell you thank you.

Love,

Me

Now, write about what you love. Together or apart, you can have a summer romance. Rekindle the flames if they have died down or fan them even hotter. If your relationship needs a little extra nurturing, take advantage of the no-cost non-medical counseling available to you through Military OneSource. Strengthen each other and make this summer one to remember and keep the roses blooming.

It’s the Little Things

 Posted by on May 10, 2015 at 09:00
May 102015
 

Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic — when I see my husband unloading the dishwasher, my heart is aflutter.

Kristi

Kristi

OK, so “romantic” might not be the right word. Tired, busy and easily impressed are probably more accurate. Either way, my outlook on marriage has changed considerably from the fairy tale days. And this is not one of those lowering-the-bar scenarios — it’s very much a happily ever after, you just have to be able to recognize what real-life happy looks like.

Messages from childhood hint that Prince Charming should scale castle walls for us. We should be showered with love notes, serenades and public displays of affection. Love was supposed to look like grand gestures, big plans and 24/7 googly eyes. If I saw my husband scaling a wall, I’d be the first one dialing 911 — now that is love.

Marriage in the military isn’t free of those lovey-dovey things — deployment letters are by far the most romantic thing in the world. And, I still look googly-eyed at my husband (then he asks me if I feel OK, and we have a good laugh). Seriously, though, I’ve come to realize that showing love and feeling loved is all about the little things. In this life of sudden changes and strange hours, the little things are much more dependable than the grand gesture.

How do I know? Experience:

  • First year of marriage — We lived apart more than we lived together thanks to training and a deployment.
  • First wedding anniversary — I celebrated around a hibachi table with my deployment buddies, while my husband sat in Iraq.
  • First deployment homecoming — After I spent six months waiting and days getting ready, it was postponed the day of.
  • Honeymoon — We had a perfectly wonderful time in Jamaica, 18 months and one deployment after our wedding.
  • First Thanksgiving together in our own home — I cooked for those same deployment buddies, then treated my pregnant self to a second, reheated dinner in the ready room with my Marine.
  • Second deployment send off — Instead of waving American flags until my husband was out of sight, his dates shifted. He waved goodbye to our son and me since our travel plans were already set.
  • So many date nights I lost count — Our babysitters and a very understanding Nana can verify that dates and times tend to slide to the right.
  • Mom’s night out — I am a perpetual “maybe” while I wait for the duty and flight schedules.
  • Soccer games, swimming lessons, weddings, parties, etc. — I’m a pretty safe bet, and call it a happy accident if I can RSVP for two.

When my husband comes home to announce a schedule change that will cancel or change our plans, I now usually reply with, “Of course,” or “I figured.”

But, do you know what is always a safe bet? The little things —after almost seven years of marriage, we’ve (mostly) figured out the way to each other’s hearts. My husband knows that helping me around the house or offering to take my son to school makes my day a little less chaotic (and makes me a more pleasant human being). A little help goes a long way to making me feel like I’m living my own version of a fairy tale. Those happily-ever-after endings failed to mention how much that princess would come to appreciate an uninterrupted 4-minute shower — but it can do wonders for a tired mom.

It’s easy to overlook these little acts of love — maybe even expect them. Sometimes I have to slow down and remind myself what we’re doing for each other:

  • Hanging with the kids so the other can go for a run
  • Hanging with the kids so the other can do literally anything else alone and in a reasonable amount of time
  • Watching a movie or an entire season of a TV show together
  • Discussing said movie or show when it’s over — this makes my English degree shine a little brighter in its frame…in that box…in the back corner of that closet
  • Going for walks together
  • Pitching in around the house
  • Talking — about nothing, about everything
  • Remembering to return driver’s seats to the right position after driving each other’s car
  • Picking up dinner or pretending to be OK with another cereal or leftover night

If I could give a little piece of advice to newlywed military couples, it would be this: Keep your expectations for happiness high, but remember that good things come in small packages. Big plans change (constantly), so make the little things a big priority.

 

Feb 262015
 
Kelli

Kelli

I remember the moment I became engaged. From that moment it was wedding gown shopping, bridesmaid selection and wondering if my Marine would be able to actually get leave to make it home for the wedding. Nowhere in our planning did we discuss money.

Wait, that’s not true. I spent it and asked him for more. He said, “Yes” and handed over his paychecks. We were careful and had budgeted for the beginning of our life together — things like the deposit for the apartment and gas for driving the 1500 miles from my home in Texas to Camp Pendleton in California. We really hadn’t discussed much beyond our immediate financial needs.

Day-to-day budgeting wasn’t something either of us had ever had to do, much less with someone else. Not only were we new to being married, we were new to being financially independent. Somehow we had to make our two financial backgrounds mesh into something that would work for both of us and the new family we were building.

The result was a series of unfortunate events and miscommunications. We quickly learned that discussions about our feelings and why he married me really needed to include where and when we spent the income we were getting at the time, which wasn’t much and we had to make it stretch.

Here are a few lessons learned and what I tell my own children as they wean off my checking account and start living on their own.

Credit is not all bad, but don’t abuse it. In today’s financial world you can’t live without a credit score. So much is tied to that three digit number. However, use credit wisely and don’t rely on it. Living off credit cards can dig a financial hole so deep you never climb out. If you are paying with a credit card, ask yourself if you are really out of all other options.

If you can’t afford to pay for it, maybe you don’t need it…today. The burden of carrying debt is much harder and longer lasting than the burden of delaying a big purchase for a few months. Many marriages have some of their biggest trials because of financial matters. New marriages certainly don’t need the additional stress of creditor calls or late payments.

Talk, talk, talk. Discuss your goals and find shared financial goals you both can support. Discuss how you are going to achieve them and what you have to do, or not do, to make that happen.

Listen, listen, listen. Make sure you are both really hearing what the other wants and needs. This is where the real work of budgeting comes in. The give and take of marriage is something that will never go away, but it’s something you can get good at with practice and a lot of patience.

Schedule a regular budget review. Once you decide on your goals, set a budget, make sure you are constantly revisiting that budget together. Things happen, plans change and sometimes you have to shift what you want with what you need.

I have had more than one mistake in the check book, overspent or flat out just missed a bill. Some of them have been costly errors. Having a solid foundation early on with how we dealt with our money as a couple made all the difference when those more challenging financial times occurred.

Take advantage of all the financial resources available to you. I wish that I had done that when we were first married, but to be honest, the resources available then were not near as extensive as they are now.

Help is available with basic money management, saving and investing, as well as home and auto purchasing to help you plant your feet on a solid financial path. And when you mess up, because I promise, it will happen, you can also get help on getting back on the right track.

The best thing I ever did was keep my husband informed about our income versus our expenses on a regular basis. It kept me accountable as the main money manager for our family, but it also gave him an idea about what it cost to take care of our family.

Setting financial expectations and accountability together now will pay off in your bank account and your relationship for years to come.

 

 

Guest Blog | Letters of War

 Posted by on January 30, 2015 at 11:46
Jan 302015
 

BlogBrigade-AliyahMeehanBlogger Biography: My name is Aliyah Meehan. I have been a military spouse for over 13 years. It is the most intensely joyful, complex, rewarding and also painful experience of my life. I have three beautiful children. One that was “gifted” to me (a high schooler that we adopted nine years ago), and two that have been birthed to me who are 6 and 8. I have a nursing degree, a bachelor’s in business administration with a minor in healthcare management, and I am currently working on my MBA. I love to write, sing, dance, cook and host parties. I am an avid archer. I also like to go skydiving about once a year, and my husband and I have taken up sailing this past year. I currently own a company contracted to the state of California that provides early infant assessments and am the director of family engagement for www.Sandboxx.us , a military lifestyle app that converts digital media from the convenience of your phone into a physical letter to our beloved military members who are off the grid.

 

Years ago, we inherited a cedar chest from one of our adopted Marines. I did not think much of it. Honestly it was just another thing that I had no use for, but it was an interesting piece of furniture nonetheless.Naturally, as a military spouse I made it a point to give it a purpose, in order to justify dragging this thing around from move to move. I filled it with every deployment memorabilia that I would come across.

While doing so, I began to notice that through the years email began to dominate most of our communication. Something about the convenience of instantly being able to communicate the thoughts and feelings that overcome, or overwhelm you, when the love of your life is miles away, is a blessing and impossible to resist. However, out of habit l would still write. Even when he would insist that it was no longer a necessity, I would still write to him.

My husband is not the type that shows excitement easily, but the bounce in his voice when he would tell me he got a letter has always been addictive. I loved hearing his plans for the pictures, how he planned to keep some in his wallet versus the pictures he planned to pin to his wall. It was a brief moment of reprieve from the distance. I loved soaking in every bit of this happiness as he was holding something from home. A serendipitous moment for me — for a second it almost felt like he was much closer to home.

I am not sure how most families do it, but in our family we describe time by its location before, during or after deployments. My husband’s absence is only reason to plan the celebration of his return, and when he comes home, stretching time, slowing it down and filling it with a lifetime of memories is the most important order of the day. “Welcome home” is a moment where space, time and distance collide and produce a most surreal reality. It is the moment where our deepest thoughts and feelings are felt and conveyed within that long powerful grip of our initial embrace — his laughter finally echoing and booming down the hall, as if he never left, before he has to leave again.

Fast forward to several deployments later and we now have three beautiful children. Duty stations have come and gone, and the treasure chest has been moved more times to more houses than most people ever live in through the duration of two lifetimes. As I like to whisper to my children, “Adventure is what we do for a living, baby.”

It was not until our most recent move to the opposite coast that anyone really paid attention to the treasure chest. Truth be told, I was so busy battling the humid, fly-filled Carolina heat, helping hubby carry furniture into our new home, when I noticed the girls huddled in a corner of the garage going through the many contents of the aging cedar treasure chest.

My heart could not have been more delighted — our children marveling at prom corsages, the dried flower that I picked at his boot camp graduation for my hair, which he completely freaked about, because of course, it was government property. Our first car together, our first dogs, teenage pictures of us in our pre-World War II first base house were all in there.

However, the letters stole the show — 18- and 19-year-old mommy and daddy. Back when we were just Tim and Aliyah, teenagers madly in love, writing boot camp letters to Recruit Meehan and making the most incredible plans that turned out to be an even more incredible life.

I suppose I must have known this day would come, because I had already separated the risqué “love note stack” from the more “PG” love letters. It was endearing throughout. As we stopped and listened to our kids read some of the letters aloud, I felt every inch of the distance that these letters have traveled, only serving as fuel meant to rekindle our passion for one another till the end of time.

As our children continued to read our story, it became their story. The fiery flame of the young warrior (Tim) and the nurse (me) liquefied into a placid existence. The story solidified into the concrete joys of our first baby. A few deployments later we were on our third baby. Ultrasound photos with the nickname “Peanut” on the back, with holes where they were once pinned on his wall in Iraq.

The letters expressed our life more vividly than our own recollections. Every picture, every word and photographic angle so carefully selected. Each and every letter exuding the deepest sense of urgency to connect our little family to the best of our limited ability.

Chaotic as this life may seem, it is beautiful. We are not perfect, but this is our family, and in it we have created a deeply rooted culture of optimizing every moment for the savory appreciation of life and each other, through this adventure disguised as chaos. We survive the pain of distance by investing ourselves through letters and phone calls, emails and loving care packages — mailing bits and pieces of ourselves in hopes to build us emotionally, mentally and spiritually, in the absence of physical presence.

Sitting over the treasure chest with our not-so-little Peanut in my lap, we spent the next few hours laughing, sometimes crying, remembering and reliving magical moments captured and forever encased in words we once lovingly shared.

I am sure I could probably pull up emails of that same time in our lives at any time. However, personally, the romance in this kind of beautiful life can only be told and truly appreciated sitting on a dusty garage floor with my family, sifting through our aging cedar treasure chest and reading out loud our letters of war.

Guest Blog | Family of Two

 Posted by on January 27, 2015 at 09:00
Jan 272015
 

CeceliaBlogger Biography: Cecelia H. Curtis is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. She is also a proud military spouse. Cecelia’s husband of 11 years, Bryan, serves in the U.S. Air Force. Cecelia and Bryan currently live in South Florida, just outside of Miami.

“So, when are you planning to start a family?” If I had a dollar for each time someone asked me this question, I’d be an incredibly wealthy woman. OK, maybe not, but I’d surely be able to buy an incredibly nice pair of shoes.

The thing is, my husband and I already are a family in my mind. It’s been over 11 years since I said “I do,” took my husband’s last name, and drove away from my parents’ house in a moving truck bound for my husband’s apartment (my new home). Since then, I have affectionately called my mother-in-law, “Ma,” while my husband calls my parents “Mom” and “Pop.” My husband and I file taxes together, PCS together, travel the world together, laugh together, cry together and pray together. So, the idea that we have not yet started a family is just perplexing to me. We are not waiting to start a family. We are a family!

Of course, I know what people mean when they ask the “start a family” question. People want to know when I’m going to have a baby! So, I typically just say, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe soon.” (And, for the record, that’s the truth!) That answer works well in most circles, but in the military environment, it’s not always that simple.

Everyone loves babies, but the military community seems to really love babies. So, when I tell people in the military community that I don’t have children, it’s not uncommon for me to hear things like, “Oh, you mean you don’t have children yet,” or my personal favorite, “Well, what are you waiting for?!” I’ve learned to just accept it for what it is — a way to make conversation, search for common ground and share life experiences.

My life experiences may not include children just yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything in common with military spouses who do have children. It just means we may have to work a little harder to figure out what our shared life experiences are. As we are getting to know one another, I might ask you some of the following questions. Are you from the northeast section of the U.S.? If so, you’ll find that we have that in common, and I hope you are prepared to discuss the difference between a hoagie and a sandwich with me. Have you lived overseas? If the answer is yes, please know that I’d love to hear all about your adventures while sharing a few stories of my own. Have you volunteered lately? If so, where? I want to hear all about how you’re serving the community and how I can help. Do you love to sing, ski, swim, jog, or travel? I sure do. So, let’s plan to do something fun together soon. Do you love your service member? My guess is yes, which means we have lots in common.

The military community is a traditional one, and I absolutely love that. Sometimes, though, our traditional community fails to recognize that service members’ families are not all the same. My family of two may not be exactly the same as your family of four or five or six, but that’s OK. This is part of what makes our U.S. military great — diversity. Despite various differences, our service members proudly serve alongside one another. And, their families — with or without children — proudly support them as they do. In this way, our families aren’t that different after all.

 

 

Nov 272014
 

Guest Bloggers:  Chris Dellamura & Aaron Austin

Imagine living your life as both participant and not-so-casual observer. That out-of-body experience is what it can be like to be a gay person in the military. In the days of “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell”, we lived life looking over our shoulders, for fear that we would lose our careers and our ability to serve our nation simply because of who we were and who we loved. Today, we look forward with wonder after the military responded to a revolutionary Supreme Court ruling and declared same-sex and mixed-sex marriages would be treated equally.

Suddenly, a military — historically received as a symbol of conservatism – is a catalyst for civil rights advance. Its response is more progressive than those of most states and well ahead of many countries around the world.

My husband, Chris, is a decorated Chief Warrant Officer 4 Black Hawk pilot, who was stationed at Fort Belvoir when we met seven years ago. I remember feeling this incredible sense of fear just to go grocery shopping with him at the commissary. If someone were to see us together would they then allege that Chris was gay and would that cost him his career?

It’s incredible how much has changed. We married last year and found ourselves instantly on the front line of progress. Just days after our wedding, DoD responded to the Supreme Court ruling striking down the so-called Defense of Marriage act (DOMA); it instituted sweeping policies that gave same-sex married couples access to housing allowances, spousal healthcare and more importantly, access to the many social support networks and services that come with being a part of the military family. Within weeks, I would be welcomed during a Hail and Farewell ceremony at Fort Benning, where Chris is an Instructor Pilot and Instrument Flight Examiner. I am now an active participant in the base Family Readiness Group.

Chris has served in the Army for 16 years. He notes he spent most of that time hiding who he was. He was acknowledged for his service, but the core of his identity was shunned.

Now, when it comes to these issues of social justice and civil rights, the military is a leader. It recognizes my marriage even though the state of Georgia where we live does not (yet). When we file taxes, we file a federal return as a married couple, but we’re forced to file as singles on our state returns. If we were not a military family, our marriage would be completely meaningless in the eyes of the law here in Georgia.

While I do totally celebrate the progress that we have made by repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, it’s important that we are not complacent. We must continue the work to guarantee equality for LGBT service members. Sexual orientation is not a protected employment class such as race, nationality, gender or religion. Our LGBT service members can still face discrimination without the promise of consequence.

My father, grandfather and stepfather all enjoyed military careers. My husband’s grandfather served in World War II and my husband’s sister is a retired Air Force officer who rose from enlisted ranks. We and our families remain hopeful that the military will continue to advance change on behalf of its LGBT service members. If the last few years are any guide, we’re optimistic for the future.

Aug 272014
 
Kristi

Kristi

So you got married what seems like five minutes ago (congratulations, by the way) and now you’re preparing for your first adventure with the military: moving. We don’t just dip our toes in the pool, do we? No sir, we jump in headfirst. Whether you’re just moving in with your new better half or moving to the other side of the world on your first PCS together, you’re in for a wild ride.

But “wild” can be a good thing. Believe it or not, you can even control “wild” to an extent by focusing on the big picture, finding ways to minimize homesickness and having a heads up about common new military spouse frustrations. Let these tips help you stretch that honeymoon phase to the max:

  1. Expect to be homesick. Who wouldn’t miss the comfort and familiarity of home? It’s natural to be homesick from time to time. Give yourself something to look forward to by planning a trip home, arranging for a friend or relative to send some of your hometown or homemade favorites or inviting a loved one to visit you.
  2. Remind yourself that “home” changes too. I’ve actually PCSed back to my hometown, and I can assure you that home is a state of mind more than it is a place. It never stays just the way we remember it. Places change, people change and people move away just like we did. What we miss are the memories we made there, not the place itself. Find comfort in knowing you aren’t the only one moving on.
  3. Make home wherever you are. Create the feeling of home with your new spouse. Establish traditions, incorporate a few of your favorite things into the décor, and make the most of where you are by meeting new people and trying new local places and activities.
  4. Remember that you have to flex (often). Your service member’s career is demanding. It often requires weird hours, spur of the moment changes, bottomless baskets of laundry, cold meals and a lot of hurrying up only to wait. Accepting this chaos can help you avoid undue stress and maybe even spare you and your spouse an argument or two.
  5. Network for new opportunities. A new home means you may need a new job, a new pizza place and everything in between. Neighbors and fellow military spouses are great connections in your new community that can link you to the right people and places to help you feel at home.
  6. Keep in touch. Just because you’re no longer living with your parents or in your hometown doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch. Use social media, text, email or video chat to communicate and stay connected even from miles away.

Your first months of marital bliss might not look just the way you pictured. You may be living in a small town you’ve never heard of, but you’ll make the most of it because you’re a military spouse now and that’s just what we do. Welcome to the club!

Your Military Marriage: Dating Your Spouse!

 Posted by on November 29, 2013 at 18:54
Nov 292013
 
Melissa

Melissa

Let’s face it. Being in a military marriage has all sorts of challenges. On top of work schedules, kids’ schedules and life, we have to add in fun things like deployments, temporary duty assignments and PCS moves! I don’t know about you, but my chief complaint is that we don’t get to spend enough time together in this fast-paced, hectic lifestyle. I bet you have felt the same way at some point or another, right? That is why it is important to make time for your spouse whenever you can. I am a huge advocate of dating. Yes, DATING your spouse. Just because someone “put a ring on it” doesn’t mean that you should stop carving out time to spend with each other…one on one.

Now before you think you are too busy to add a romantic dating life into your schedule, I am not talking about fancy dress clothes, champagne, roses and expensive dinner dates every week. I am talking about taking at least two hours a week and making it just about YOU and your SPOUSE. It can be any time of day, and it doesn’t even have to include the standard meal that most people think of when they envision the word “date.” You can even have a date in your house after the kiddos have been put to bed. No need to hire a sitter! If you work opposite schedules, plan a morning or afternoon date, or even a Tuesday date! There are no rules anywhere that say dates can only happen Saturday after 6 p.m. Military life getting in the way? Well, there are ways around that too.

Somewhere along the way, consumerism made us believe that dating is synonymous with spending money. Well, let us pop that misconception right now. My husband and I try to make the majority of our dates “budget friendly” (translation: cheap to free) and splurge on a fun day or night out once or twice a month. We really enjoy the time getting to talk with each other and make memories. We find that we are flirtier with each other during the week and are more connected. Don’t believe me on the cheap part? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make ice cream sundaes and a watch your favorite show that you DVRed but can never watch because cartoons have taken over your television.
  • Play cards or a board game.
  • Plan your future together. Sounds cheesy, but it is fun to dream with your partner and set goals.
  • Take a biking trip around a local park to feed the ducks. While you’re at the park, you can even pack a picnic!
  • Explore an off the beat local attraction. This is usually free, and you can end up getting some funny pictures of each of you being silly.
  • Go to the zoo or a museum without your kids.
  • Go window shopping. I like to do this before the holidays to get gift ideas for the hardest person on my list.
  • Rent a movie and cook dinner TOGETHER beforehand. There is something romantic about cooking together.
  • Go to a local festival.
  • Watch the sunset – cliché I know, but there is just *something* about it!

If you are reading this while going through a deployment or preparing for a TDY, do not get discouraged. You can even date your spouse long distance! Through the wonderful world of technology, you can even date via webcam (keep your minds out of the gutter here folks!). This will require some pre-planning, but it’s not impossible. If there is a birthday or anniversary coming up, send your spouse a wrapped shelf stable treat (think snack cake or cookies) and don’t have your spouse open the package until your date. You can both share the same “meal” on your virtual date. Sure it isn’t a five star restaurant, but I don’t think many of military spouses require that sort of treatment…especially from a war zone.

The important thing is to think of dating your spouse as “preventative medicine” to keep your marriage strong. As military families, we know how important time together is. Make an effort, enjoy some time together as a couple and remember why you fell in love with that good-looking spouse of yours in the first place.

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.