modern-woman's-guideNEW-02

A Modern Woman’s (Non-FRG) Guide to Life+Love // Should I Stay or Go?

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Crystal of The Happy Type shares tips on how she makes it work with her Soldier!
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Hello everyone, it’s not only the last day of the A Modern Woman’s (Non-FRG) Guide to Life +Love blog series. I had a blast putting together this blog series with the amazing group of military significant others who participated in sharing their personal stories. The military life isn’t always glamorous and it’s hard for anyone involved. A girlfriend/boyfriend, fiancee, or husband/wife’s strength is INTEGRAL to not only keeping themselves going, but their service member. I can’t speak to the male perspective of being a military dependent, and sadly I didn’t know any to ask for this blog series (hence, the name), but I DO know from experience how easy it is to feel alone, frustrated, selfish, lost, and like you are going out of your mind. It’s hard to be strong when you feel like you are the only going through your particular situation, and this blog series was all about reminding people that they aren’t alone.

Today’s has weighed heavily on my husband and I, but I am happy to share my thoughts on:

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Leaving the military life.
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When my husband and I began dating, the very first words out of my mouth were: “If this is going to be serious, let’s get a few things straight, soldier.” I then regaled my husband with tales about how I was a determined, no-nonsense woman on a mission to get her doctorate and NOTHING was going to stand in the way. I had worked long and hard and wouldn’t be throwing it away for a man, because an especially bad relationship had left me more broken than I cared to admit, love was pretty much the LAST thing on my mind when I met Rich. Not even true love stood a chance before my bulldozer mentality and I wanted to let my husband-to-be know the deal before he fell madly in love me (because I’m cool like that).

My husband agreed amiably that it wouldn’t be a problem, but that if we did go the distance he was willing to get out of the military because it hadn’t been his career objective to begin with. My new love interest even vowed to do everything he could to help me achieve my goals. Talk about hitting the relationship jackpot, right? Neither of us knew that we would end up falling in love with each other in just FOUR WEEKS, or that we would then be engaged and married within the year. Life is totally crazy.

Which brings me to my next point: You can’t predict the future, not even the IMMEDIATE future, which may seem certain.

It’s been an eventful 3 + years and our course has never been straight. We got hitched in Vegas, moved overseas, my husband had back surgery, I got into graduate school and finally started my lifelong ambition. Our interests and plans for the future have swung from right to left and back again covering the enter spectrum of possibilities. Even my husband’s initial thoughts on leaving the military ran the gamut, which made planning our next move hard, especially when you added my looming academic plans.

In the midst of all the change, the one dependable constant (other than each other) has been the military. We never had to worry about our next check, our housing, or how to put food on the table, which are very real and scary worries for a majority of people. The security the military provides makes pondering the decision to leave all the more daunting.

Worry over the availability of finding a new job and adjusting to a new way of life have weighed heavily on my family and we’ve pretty much exhausted ourselves covering the range of possibilities. It’s odd that we are leaving just as soon as I was starting to get the whole military lingo down, but that’s life, right? I wanted to share my thoughts on what I’ve learned since my husband and I decided to leave the military, because yes, it was a joint decision.

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Here’s Crystal’s advice on supporting your spouse through this difficult time
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1. Don’t compare your reasons to anyone else.

I cannot even go into how hard it’s been for my husband and his decision to leave the military due to his back injury and the nature of being a pilot. His body simply cannot stand up to the demands of being a pilot, but that doesn’t mean that he was skipping around in a field of flowers when we made the decision that his flight doctors were already pushing him to accept. A common characteristic of a service member is their perseverance and willingness to fight the hard long fight. I had to help my husband realize that just because he wasn’t debilitated for life didn’t mean that he was giving up, because he couldn’t perform his job anymore. He knew it was the right and smart choice, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have to wrestle with his own demons on leaving.

2. Be supportive of your service member.

Always be there for them, even when they are going over the same worries for the billionth time. Listening shows your service member that their feelings are valid and that someone cares. I could have done a better job, but I did do my best to listen to my husband’s fears while reminding him that we could make it as civilians.

3. Don’t feed the fear monster, but face reality.

While we know that jobs aren’t rolling around like peanut covered M&Ms (which they do in my perfect world, but the barrel), we do know that work can be found. My husband has been in the service for about a decade now and so remembering how to navigate the civilian world can be a scary thing after being a part of the military for so long.

4. Now is the time to be stronger.

As a significant other the time to get even stronger is at hand, my friend. For some the end of the military life is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s important to keep in mind that things won’t automatically get easier just because the government isn’t dictating your every life move, or sending your service member on deployment periodically. In some ways making the transition to civilian life can be more challenging because of the unexpected factors it entails. Military life follows a sort of predetermined course because of regulations. If you check boxes A, B, and C, you are golden, however civilian life doesn’t operate by the same rules. It will take some time for your service member to figure them out and you’ll need to be at the ready to help. I’ve been living in Alabama while my husband finishes his deployment in Korea and the craziness and frustration the last few months have given us has brought to light just how different military is vs. civilian life.

Remember, just because your life and career follow a path that you didn’t imagine doesn’t mean things are bad. Life has a way of shaking things up and if you manage to keep going, you’ll be amazed at where you’ll end up. A positive attitude and a strong heart are necessary to end up in the best possible situation.

You are strong, warrior, so get your game face on and get it. Shoot me an email at info@thehappytype.com if you have any questions! Is anyone else in this situation or have gone through the whole shebang already? Any thoughts are appreciated!

PS: My big news that I talked about on a recent blog post was that I was picking my husband up from the airport! YAY! I won’t be able to see him the entire time since I have to go back to Alabama for classes, but even these few stolen days have been so good for the soul. Jet lag and all doesn’t damper our smiles and my dog looks especially disorientated with happiness.