If there’s one question I’m asked over and over again, it’s “How will you be away from Mike for so long?! Aren’t you worried about your relationship?!”
Um… No, not really.
Mike and I have been together through a lot of ups and downs. We were together while he was deployed in Afghanistan. We made it work when I couldn’t find a job in St. Louis and were living over an hour apart. And we will make it work through Air Force Basic Training. Our relationship is steady as a rock, and despite being newlyweds, we don’t feel like newlyweds. We’ve known everything about each other for a long time, so the newness is gone and we’ve settled into that happy, healthy coupledom you find only after living together for some years.
Of course, surviving this time away from each other is not going to be easy, but I’m not worried about it ruining my marriage. Mike understands and encouraged me to join the Air Force, so he is prepared for what that may involve. Still yet, some couples struggle more than others, and I want to share some advice for making it through. I feel that I can speak on this because Mike and I made it through a year-long deployment. I’m sure BMT will be no different.
1. It’s only 7ish weeks.
Yes, BMT is 8.5 weeks, but you’ll see your spouse on graduation week during week 7. I assume your spouse will be there. If not, then there may be a bigger hill to climb in your relationship than the military. Graduation week is the one time you’ll have to see your family before you head off to tech school, so make it count.
2. Keep yourself busy.
Obviously, you’ll be busy in Basic. In the bit of downtime you have, you can write love letters. What a treat! Plus, there are some phone privileges (unless they’re taken from you), so you’ll have at least some contact during the time. If you’re the spouse that’s staying home, keep yourself busy too. Focus on bettering yourself. Pick up a hobby. Create goals and work towards them. Mike has considered getting a second job to keep himself busy while I’m away, which would also help us with our debt pay-off plan. Keep your plate full and the time will fly.
3. It’s not as long as tech school.
The road doesn’t end at Basic Training. You still have to think about tech school, so prepare yourself in advance. Tech schools can go from 3 months to 2 years depending on job you have. Of course, you’ll have more freedoms during that time, but unless your school is more than 9 months long, you probably won’t be allowed to live together. You will be able to celebrate with some three day weekends and holidays if you have the money, but it has to work with timing etc. Just be prepared for the worst because you never know what might happen.
4. Remember your vows.
Long-distance relationships bring their own set of trials, and it’s never easy being separated for extended periods of time. Remind yourself of the vows you made for better or worse. You vowed to stay true and support your partner through all their life decisions. Trust that each one of you can survive this time apart and your reunion will be like no other.
5. Find a support group.
No matter where you are, there’s probably a group of military spouses who meet and support one another. Meeting and befriending these people can be great encouragement and helpful when learning about the military way of life.
6. Write letters every day.
While the person going through BMT may not be able to write every day, if you’re at home, writing a letter everyday to update your spouse can be a good way to feel at home. Send a photo and reminders that you’re proud of them. Fill your letters with encouragement. BMT is mentally and physically exhausting. Your support is much needed during this time.
From where I’m standing, if you are secure in your marriage, everything will be just fine. Just remember that this isn’t forever and your spouse is not in danger. It’s an investment in the future, and soon enough, you’ll be together again, maybe in a cool new locale.