How to Cope when Your Boyfriend Joins the Military

The military has always put stress on couples, and this trend seems to be even greater today. However, with the appropriate tools and planning, a relationship between a service member and civilian can be strengthened by these stresses and grow stronger through perseverance. You need to know how you will be communicating with your family while on duty; how expensive it will be on a weekly basis. Find out when you are able to go for your break to visit your spouse at home.


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    Connect before they leave. Often your significant other will receive forewarning before they must enter military service. Use this time wisely. Avoid the temptation to fight or criticize one another. Try to understand what your partner is going through. In some places, a military career is not one that is selected by choice. Do not dwell on the concept that you might lose one another. Instead enjoy the time you have together and grow closer as a couple. Work to connect on deeper emotional levels, and try to look forward to the future with optimism.
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    Prepare for changes. When an individual enters military service they are often required to move away from their home, sometimes for several years. Be prepared for this. Work to establish plans. It may be worthwhile to create a plan and apply for jobs near where they will be stationed. Do not do this immediately though. Wait till they have reached their new base and are stabilized, otherwise the move could create undue stress for your service member while they are trying to integrate into a new unit. Talk it out and wait for their go-ahead.
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    Prepare for changes in your partner. Nearly every Army in the world has some sort of Basic Combat Training. This is designed to take civilians and teach them how to survive in combat, while enforcing discipline and preparing them to be effective soldiers. This initial training is generally designed to be difficult and it can be a life altering experience for many recruits. Be prepared for these changes. Do not blame your partner for them; these changes often symbolize adaptations they had to make in order to survive the rigors of training for combat.
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    Prepare for changes in yourself. When your partner leaves you will have to find a sense of independence to keep going. Just as they are having to adapt to a new environment, you will be doing so as well. It is good to have a support network here, and it definitely helps if you set this up beforehand. Try to locate mutual friends and family members that know you both well. If it was just you and your partner, things can get very lonely if you have no one to talk to. Although you may feel the urge to stray away from your partner, strive not to do so. Leaving them while they are away may make them feel abandoned and betrayed.
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    Communicate as much as possible. Many initial training programs limit communications with loved ones in order to simulate the rigors of war. Despite this, it is important to use whatever means possible to continue communication. Openly share your feelings and try not to hide anything. This can be a very stressful time, and if it seems like something is being held back it can compound that stress, creating unnecessary fights and heartbreak. If your partner is deployed to a combat zone, be prepared for sparse communication. If letters or phone calls are sparse, it does not necessarily mean that your partner no longer cares about you. It could just be that the logistical structure required to maintain that communication is lacking.
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    Enjoy every minute of time you have together. Occasionally, your loved one may get blocks of leave where they can return home. Enjoy the time you have with them and use it to connect as a couple. Know though, that often they will want to see family and friends as well. Do not get upset about this, because odds are they have not seen their family for the same amount of time that they've been missing you. Do take time for yourselves though. Celebrate the strength you both have found by facing this tribulation.
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    Continue planning for the future. Always keep looking forward. Having a mutual goal can help you and your partner feel closer as a couple, and give you something to look forward to that will inspire and drive you every day. Make sure these goals are realistic, and that you discuss them with each other.


  • Don't let doubtfulness bring you down. Try to stay as optimistic as possible. And trust. Trust is key. If he/she is "the one" then you have nothing to worry about.
  • Communication is key. As long as you can keep open and honest lines of communication, there is very little that can drive you apart.
  • Do not stress yourself out that their life may be in danger. It will only cause you distress and concern that may hurt the relationship. Try to understand the facts of the situation. A report released a few years ago revealed that it was more dangerous on the streets of Washington, D.C., than it was for an American soldier on the streets of Baghdad.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. It is okay to allow your emotions to purge once in a while, if need be. Be warned, however. This is not an excuse for you to throw away all your current ambitions and fall into a state of inaction and depression. Just imagine what coming home for him would be like if his loved one was such a mess.
  • Always keep in mind that your man is an ambitious person with goals. This should boost your pride and perhaps even your own personal confidence. Remember, he chose you.
  • Occasionally changes can occur where couples drift apart. This is perfectly natural, and although it may seem upsetting, it is a normal part of life.


  • Do not take your partner's departure as an opportunity to pursue a new love interest, as this will only hurt them in the long run.
  • Try not to rush into an early marriage. These sorts of things are common in the military and create a great deal of stress for both parties as they age and mature. If your partner does propose marriage, comfort them and suggest that you both wait a little while more so you can develop a stronger relationship.
  • If you feel that your partner has developed PTSD, or other issues from their experiences, do not be afraid to suggest they get help. Medical research has made amazing strides in the fields of mental health and traumatic brain injuries in the last decade.
  • If the relationship turns abusive, it is critical that you get out as soon as possible. You do not need to put your health and life on the line in order to 'help make it better'. Often times a departure of a loved one due to abuse will serve as a wake-up call, prompting the other person to seek professional help.

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