In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, today’s post is all about love. Particularly, ways to maximize your love life while living the military lifestyle. Because loving in the military life sometimes looks different than loving in the outside world. It’s beautiful in it’s own kind of way. Military love is so often criticized or pitied because of the hardships that come with our lifestyle– but there are more than enough ways to make up for the hardships!
Take Advantage Of Discovery
I think the role of “discovery” is a big reason behind the butterflies you got when you first met. Falling in love with someone is all about discovering a person who makes you feel loved, and learning how to love them back. Usually along the way, you discover a whole new side of yourself. It’s the “complete you” versus the “incomplete you.”
Luckily for us military couples, this lifestyle affords a lifetime of discovery. Chances are you grew up in one hometown, and chances are you don’t live there anymore. Try to embrace and discover your new surroundings. In the military, you will travel to places you have never been, and live in places you probably would have never picked on your own (ahem, Ft. Stewart). Not every assignment is a grand OCONUS duty station, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore your posts’ backyard. There are still adventures to be had and memories to be made. Even in DeRidder.
Of course there is emotional discovery along the way too: learning just how much you can really miss each other, and just how good homecoming feels like. Take advantage of that. Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person, allow yourself to experience new emotions and embrace them. Learn to miss each other in a healthy way. Practice sacrificing things for each other with love as your motive, not necessity. Discover a newness in yourself, as your situation changes throughout your dynamic military life.
Practical Application: Google “Top 10 Most Romantic Things to Do” in your current city today. Make plans to try one or two of them out.
Use Your Weekends Wisely
Anyone who has had a soldier go through weeks of training can attest to the fact that 2-days weekends are often “catch up” days. All 48 hours become devoted to getting real sleep and real food, as well as stocking up for the next leg of training. It’s hard to turn those weekends into a mini-vacation. But it’s also hard if you’ve been the one on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to go out on some real dates together, only to have the weekends blow by anonymously. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to veg out, or “get stuff done” but your love life does require some together-time. Luckily for us military couples, there’s a little something called extended-weekends.
I can’t think of many full-time jobs that offer so many 3 and 4 day weekends as the military does. You can maximize your military love life by using these weekends to your advantage. Make plans for them. You don’t have to do something big every time a 3/4-day weekend pops up, but if you have a DONSA coming up, go into the nearest city overnight. Make those long weekends your “date” weekends, if the 2-day ones are just too short. Bank on your 4-day weekends as an untouchable period of together time, and then enjoy them together.
Practical Application: When is your next 3 or 4 day weekend? Find out and make 1 concrete date plan. You can look up your installation’s MWR site and find discounted tickets for date ideas. (MCCS for Marines, and AFSVA for Air Force).
Many careers have away-from-home stints, but none are quite like the military. Civilian couples don’t get separated for months on end the way military do, and when they do, phone calls and texting opportunities abound. Military couples, on the other hand, feel like they got lucky if they hear from each other once a day during a deployment. During field training, we don’t even expect to have contact. Spouses go for weeks without communication at some schools like Basic Training. You can look at this as unfair, or you can get creative and go old-school.
If you’ve never sent letters to each other–do it. There’s something about holding the physical paper in your hand that makes it more romantic than emails. Bouquets are also vogue and extremely romantic. Even if you’re not together on a special day (see above), order flowers and have them delivered to your girl’s doorstep! Care packages aren’t just a thing in movies. Soldiers love receiving a care package (even if they have access to stores while on TDY). It’s just the feeling of opening a gift packed tight with treats and love that makes those packages so significant. These old traditions were commonly-used romantic actions for a reason!
Sweetheart gestures are also a very effective way at emphasizing your love despite the challenges of the military. While his & her tattoos are the modern version of this, don’t be afraid of the old-school “promise ring.” Wearing a token that means “I’ll be back” is significantly strengthening. Engraved necklaces or bracelet pendants with his location’s coordinates are meaningful tokens that will provide much needed comfort on those difficult days. Don’t feel cheesy for sleeping with his dog tags under your pillow, or carrying her picture in your chest pocket. These little romantic gestures are habits that have been practiced by countless US military couples before us. Trust those who have tread our path before us!
Practical Application: Write a hand-written note today and save it for tomorrow. Leave it on the steering wheel, in the lunch box, or taped to the mirror to set the tone for the day. If you are separated right now, pop it in the mail tomorrow.
Ignore the Dates on the Calendar
It’s only natural to want to spend holidays together, and the military can be pretty good at making sure that happens. With the exception of your birthday. His birthday. Your anniversary. And if you put too much stock in the actual date circled on the calendar, rather than the meaning behind it, you may become disappointed during your military life. You’ll feel like you’re missing out. Like your love life is somehow being robbed of monumental days.
But you can maximize your military love life but not being robbed of any romantic landmarks. Celebrate those days on a different date. If you know you won’t be together on a certain holiday, celebrate before or after the “actual” date. It’s better to celebrate your anniversary a week early than not at all. Don’t be the girl who has to “skip” St. Valentine’s Day. Being in the military doesn’t mean you have to skip anything. You just have to be flexible.
Practical Application: Let go of the memory you are harboring of that missed holiday. You have this year to make it right. And if you won’t be able to celebrate that same holiday together in 2018 (it took 4 years before we actually spent a Halloween together), then make plans to celebrate it early or late together. This year can be more celebratory than last year, if you make it a choice!
There are ample opportunities to maximize your military love life–you just have to know where to look. Take those 4-day weekends…explore your surroundings together. Be flexible, and make memories you can treasure forever. There’s a reason that people say that military couples are some of the strongest ones in the world. Because if it wasn’t possible, there wouldn’t be so many of us doing it. You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but that’s because it’s actually true: “Distance does to love what wind does to fire. It extinguishes the weak and feeds the strong.”
Thanks for stopping by. If you have any romance tips to maximize your military love life, please share in the comment sections below. We’re all going through this together. <3
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