Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Navy Girlfriend Guide: Should You become a Navy Wife? The Pros & Cons of Military Life



I’ve gotten a lot of comments and questions lately from Navy Girlfriends who are just plain curious about what they are getting themselves into - what will the Navy Life be like if this relationship goes all the way? It’s difficult being the partner of someone joining the military or dating someone who is already in it because they are your only source of what you are getting yourself into and every Navy GF quickly realizes the information you are getting is second-hand.

What if your partner is only aware of what it will be like for the Sailor and not for you? What if the recruiter isn’t giving your partner accurate info? What if your partner is only being told the good parts? Or what if your partner might be afraid to tell you anything that would make you worried?

photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc
The truth is – not knowing is scarier than the truth and being misled will lead to more trouble in the future. So what are the pros and what are the cons? Below is my list and this is a list based on the idea of a Navy Girlfriend becoming a Navy Wife, so keep in mind that certain things like pay, benefits, and college tuition won't apply unless you are married. I’m going to ask other Navy Wives to add to this list on our FacebookForum so please check that out too.

Keep in mind all of the cons have a pro so don't freak out reading through the cons list. Make sure you get to the pros too.

Cons

 Separation
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No matter what rumors you have heard, if your partner is joining the Navy, you will be separated for long periods of time. There is no such thing as a non-deployed Sailor. If there is, it’s so rare, I wouldn’t count on it.

I’m not going to lie to you. Deployments suck! Being separated from him/her will be one of the hardest things that you can do, but there are millions of women out there who are strong enough to do this and so are you.

It’s not just every once in a while that he/she goes away either. Most sailors have to do detachments on top of deployments. The deployments are the long 6-10 month trips that happen on average every 1.5 years and the dets are between 2-4 weeks long and happen more frequently than deployments but only while on sea duty.

You do get a break from deployments though. It's four years on, three years off. So the Sailor will do four years sea duty (he/she will deploy) and three years shore duty (he/she doesn't deploy).

When he is away, there will probably be times when you feel left out and left behind because he’s doing this big important thing while you are left at home. There will be times when you will be sad and miserable with loneliness. You will have to face problems that are not the type of thing you are used to facing, like in my case finding a dead mouse stuck in my washing machine. That is so a boy type of problem! 

It's not all bad though, we are just in the cons section. There is a pro to separation too. 

                                                     Long Hours/No Overtime
photo credit: WarzauWynn via photopin cc
The Navy doesn’t do shift work. Everyone works on salary, which means that they work as many hours and weekends as needed to get the job done. How long those hours are and how often they are will depend on your partner’s job and location. Some jobs won't even require 8 hours where others will keep him there 12-16 hours on a regular basis.  
 Frequent Moves
Although the Navy will pay to move you, and it’s kind of cool getting to see new places, moving is a stressful thing and it’s hard mentally. I’ve gotten depressed every time we’ve moved. It’s hard to be uprooted and taken away from friends and family. It’s hard on your children too. And you don’t always get the final say in where you end up.

 Social Inhibitors 
One of the things that all Navy Wives struggle with is making friends, and it doesn’t matter if you live on or off base. The reason for this is that most of the people Navy Wives come in contact with are other Navy Wives and most times Navy Wives are afraid to get close to people because everyone moves eventually. It’s hard losing people again and again. It’s hard to make civilian friends too because you move so often, and even if you fight it, you'll get that mentality too. Plus, you will automatically have less in common with civilians because you have different lifestyles by being in the Navy.

Pros

Separation
photo credit: javaturtle via photopin cc

Yeah. There’s a pro to being separated. A couple actually, enough to warrant bullet points!


  • When he’s away, you get to be in charge of everything. You get to have everything your way. You get to do what you want, when you want. If you live with someone or get married, this is actually really nice!

  • You have so much free time, you can take on all kinds of personal goals and projects, like going back to school, or in my case, publishing a novel.
  • You also get to have a unique perspective on your relationship. When you are apart, it is easier to identify issues in the relationship and re-evaluate how to resolve them without the confusion of being so close to the problem. 
  • The coolest thing is that when he does come home, it will be like you go back to those first stages of the relationship, the honeymoon stage, when you are super lovey dovey and can’t get over each other. Most couples never get to experience that more than once.
  • You get higher pay when he is away, and if you are good with money and he is careful not to go nuts in port, you can save a huge chunk of cash while he is away and use it for a big vacation or a new car or save for your children’s college fund. 
Benefits
photo credit: US Army Africa via photopin cc

  • Medical, Dental, Optometry, Prescriptions, as long as you are married, you and your children will be completely covered. I occasionally had to pay small co-payments, and I had to pay for some larger dental treatments, like wisdom teeth extraction, but man was it nice to not worry about coverage in general. 
  • You also have retirement if he does his 20 years, and you both have life insurance. 
  • He also has the GI Bill, which pays for his schooling or yours. Recent changes now allow the GI Bill to be used by spouses and children too. In addition to the GI Bill, the Navy provides Sailors Tuition Assistance while they are in the Navy. 
  • Plus, you have all the benefits on base, like tax free shopping, a big gym, swimming pools, rec center, and other educational and professional resources.
Security/Stability
  • It’s nice to know the Navy has your back. Obviously, really bad behavior will get you kicked out of the Navy, but people still aren’t “let go” the way they might be in the civilian world. Even when the Navy is downsizing, they don't just kick you out. The Sailor would be allowed to finish his or her tour.
Photo Cred: idfonline via photopin cc
  • You also have the security of health benefits and the other perks I mentioned in the benefits bullet. 
  • Not to mention a plethora of programs that are available for military members and their families to help them in case of a financial emergency or with scholarship funds and even help getting jobs.  
  • You will also have a level of financial stability that most people do not have. You get cost of living and extra pay when you have dependents (but not per dependent). There are also other pay pumps depending on location and deployments.

Seeing New Places
If your partner plays it right, you guys can be moved to all kinds of neat and awesome places. There are billets in Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, etc. You could see the world.

Although this isn’t guaranteed. Those cool destination billets won't always be open for his job either. You don't always get your first choice of where you go. Or like me and my husband, you'll choose to further his career. My husband and I went a total of two places: Nevada and California, which is where we are from, but that was okay because we were near family.


This list is far from complete. In fact, I’ll probably need a Part Two. So got something to add? Got a question or thought? Leave it in the comments or hop on over to the Forum!


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    About Stephanie Carroll
    U&E Founder & Author
    Buy Her Book A White Room!
    Photo by Randy Enriquez
    I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

    After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
    Cover Design by Jenny Q
      
    In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

    My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

    Learn more at www.stephaniecarroll.net and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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47 comments:

  1. God Bless you for this! I'm a Navy girlfriend and every day I wonder what I got myself into.This helps a lot. Thanks! I'll definitely be coming back!

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    1. I'm really glad this post was helpful. Keep reading. There is lots and lots for you here. =)

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

      Delete
  2. this was the most helpful blog I've read so far my bf is currently in the process of joining the navy and has asked me to marry and come with him....I was so AFRAID because I thought my life would be over but I'm glad you cleared up a few things

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    1. Thank you for commenting Anonymous.

      I am so happy you found this be helpful. Your life will certainly not be over, as long as you don't give up on it, you can do whatever you like even while he is in the military.

      Keep checking out the blog and join our Facebook forum for a great place to meet and talk with other Navy Girlfriends and Wives.

      I wish you the best of luck!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of "A White Room"

      Delete
  3. My fiance is in the process of joining although this did clear things up im still freaking out! I dont know if i could give him up for that long of a time.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I'm so glad this post was helpful to you. It is hard to be separated for long periods of time but you can do it. If other women can, then so can you. It's really hard the first time but you build a tolerance. It's important to actively build a strong support network, making sure that you have friends and family to see regularly, and activities or projects to keep you uber busy while he is away. These things help the months go by faster.

      Join our Facebook group if you'd like to ask some more questions about surviving deployments.

      Just remember, the willingness to go through the struggle is what reveals that you already are strong and that you are capable of doing this.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder
      Author of "A White Room"

      Delete
  4. My bf and I have been together for about 4 months now. He's been in the Navy for about a year now and told me he plans to make a career in it. We've been talking about marriage since meeting and he asked if I would go with him after his time is up before he gets deployed. I've been doing research to see what life would be like for me. Your article is very encouraging and I'm glad to have found it.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that! Thank you for commenting Anonymous. Feel free to ask any questions you may have either here or in our Facebook Group. The tab on the page bar at the top will take you there. Wishing you all the best as you start this adventure together!

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  5. This article helped so much thank you! My boyfriend and I have been dating for about 8 months and we've done lots of future talking and we do want to get married some day, he plans to go into to the Navy and I full on support him. Although his dad and uncle had both been in the military and they both told him it's unlikely we will stay together because of him having to be gone for long. And I had also been told there's a lot of cheating in the military from both parts. Although we are both aware every relationship is different and we trust each other and have faith that we will make it. And this post definitely helped me think more positive and not listen to all of the negative information I had been told.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I am so happy that this article was able to give you some positive with the negative. I'm sure the people telling you guys these things are just trying to make sure you understand how difficult it will be and sometimes it's hard to do that without making it a negative-palooza!

      It will be hard at times and there are downsides but there's a lot of upsides and plenty - lots - of couples who make it work and enjoy the military lifestyle.

      Keep researching and getting that realistic perspective. Check out our forum if you want to ask any specific questions from other military wives/girlfriends.

      Keeping you in my thoughts!

      Warmest,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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    2. I am in the same situation. Like literally, we've been dating for 8 months etc.

      Delete
  6. Hi,
    My name is Haley and I am a navy girlfriend to be. My boyfriend will be joining this summer and I am scared out of my mind, but for him I'd do anything. So far this blog has opened up my eyes and is kind of calming me down. We had partially talked about it earlier today for the first time, we've been pushing it to the side for a few months but we finally talked about it. I'm having a very rough time but I just have to calm myself down and just think that this is what he wants to do.

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    1. Hi Haley,

      Thanks for writing in.

      It can be difficult to calm yourself down. I know it was for me, and I think it is for most people. It's a big decision and you have a right to freak out a little. It's good and important to talk about it with him, talk about everything, hold nothing back because you don't want to end up going along with something and holding in thoughts that you wish you had said.

      It's also important that you get your input in there because this is not a decision that will only effect him. It will significantly effect you as well.

      It's a really good sign that you are reading and researching. It's smart to get as much information as you can and be prepared for the reality of what you will experience. Keep researching, keep talking.

      You are already ahead of the game. Keep doing what you are doing and be kind to yourself. It's normal to experience an emotional and even a panic response. Everything you are experiencing is normal and you are handling it very well.

      Keeping you in my thoughts.
      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Founder U&E

      Delete
  7. Hi
    I need a bit of advice. I am currently 18 years old and my Sailor is 19. We plan to get married after his deployment. But I rationalize on what are the pros and cons from marrying so young. Thank you

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for commenting. I understand this is a difficult choice but the fact that you are looking into it and doing your research shows that you are way ahead of the curve. I don't think I could tell you much more than what is included in this article or in the article:

      Pros and Cons of Remaining a Navy Girlfriend During Deployment.
      http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2013/12/navy-girlfriend-guide-pros-cons-of.html

      For more, I would highly reccomend joining our Facebook Community and asking the wives and girlfriends for additional advice.

      I hope this helps and I wish you all the luck in the world. There is no bad or wrong decision when it comes to this kind of thing. It is different for everyone. Do what is best for you, plenty of women have had successful experiences as both girlfriends and wives.

      The main thing is to not do anything because you think you have to. That's when people have trouble.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      U&E Founder

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  8. Hi! I met my guy online a few weeks ago and he's in the Navy. We just got together and honestly, I don't have any idea how this kind of relationships works since I have never been in one. I don't know much about his job, we haven't talked so much about it but I know that he is stationed at Washington and works 12-16hour shifts. Communication isn't so bad. We try to make it work as best as we can. I'm living in a different country. I'm 16 hours ahead so when he gets home, it's nighttime on my side and when he goes to work, it's morning on mine. It's not really bad. We get to have time to talk about our day and catch up. He says he'll find a way to visit me maybe this year or the next after that. I like him so much and I'm willing to be patient. I'll wait for him because I want our relationship to work. The only thing that gets to me though is when I do not hear from him. I have not heard from him in the last six days and I have no idea where he is or what he's doing. Not knowing where he is or how he's doing is causing me to have so much anxiety. I refuse to think that he's probably cheating on me. I don't even want to entertain the idea but I'm sure you understand seeing that we're in an LDR. Some nights I wonder if I'm crazy for being in a relationship with him or if I made the right choice. It's a struggle but I'm willing to be there for him every step of the way. I've been googling and reading articles about what it's like to be with someone who's in the Navy and what my expectations should be from the relationship..

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Everything you are going through is normal and everything that you are feeling in response is perfectly reasonable and rational. It is common for military members to have stretches of time where they cannot communicate. It's also perfectly normal to feel anxious and worried when that stretch of no communication happens. I had many-a-freak-out when I didn't hear from him.

      It's also normal to doubt a difficult decision like getting into a relationship like this. It's okay to feel and think that way and the feeling and thoughts themselves doesn't mean they are true. It takes a strong, independent person and someone with a lot of heart to even start a relationship like yours. Even if it doesn't end up working out, the fact that you tried and the fact that you had this experience will provide you with a level of insight, experience, and knowledge that not everyone has because not everyone is strong enough to try.

      Dating someone long distance is already extremely hard and then adding on the military makes it so much more intense, so be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that what you experience is normal and what you feel and think is not only normal but healthy and reasonable. You are clearly a strong person and you will come out of this even stronger.

      Keep doing your research and learn about what to expect. That in of itself can be extremely helpful.

      Keeping you in my thoughts,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & Founder of U&E

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    2. Hello Miss Carrol! Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post. I appreciate it very much!
      It's nice to hear from someone like you that my feelings and thoughts about my relationhsip is normal. Before I came across this website, I was almost convinced I am going crazy with everything that's going on in my head. So I'm really grateful that you provided insight on how things like this work.

      I have so many questions about my boyfriend's job because I don't know what the rules are especially in terms of phone usage. I have no idea when they are allowed to contact loved ones or family or what's gonna happen if he needs to go away for a certain period of time. I regret not asking him those questions. I should have when we were able to talk. It makes me feel alone and lonely going through these things. He's out there somewhere and I'm sitting home hoping and waiting for him to come back. I'm scared and worried all the time. Sometimes I'd go back and forth between thinking he's alright or maybe he doesn't get back to me anymore. It's really insane! Anyway, thank you again, Ms. Carroll! You helped me a lot!

      Delete
    3. Dear Anonymous,

      I'm so glad that this site has been helpful to you. Wishing you all the best. Remember that feeling weak and crazy doesn't make you weak - the fact that you are willing to endure those feelings and go through the struggle and fear and uncertainty - that is what shows how strong you really are.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

      Delete
  9. Hi there. My daughter is a Navy girlfriend. Her boyfriend is in basic right now. We are concerned about some things his mother has told my daughter. Today my daughter was informed that when he is out of A-training she, her 2 daughters AND her grandchildren will ALL be moving with him to live off base with him. When asked "what about my daughter?" She ignored, saying "we ate living with him, no matter where he goes"
    He wants to marry our daughter but this mother had SERIOUS hold issues on him. She also told my daughter today "I hope he doesn't make it through basic, "I need my baby home" Any suggestions or advice to put my daughter at ease? She's thinking he'll dunno her for mommy if she whines enough.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I'm sorry you have found yourself in what sounds like a complicated and delicate situation. I think the best advice that I can give may also be the hardest, and that is to simply be respectful and understanding. Letting go of one's child is hard enough but to be letting them go into the military must be even more frightening and difficult.

      If he is old enough to the join the military then he is also old enough to make his own decisions, and will be even more so after going through military training. It's hard, but your family and your daughter have to trust in his ability to stick with his decision even if it's difficult for his family.

      Continue to support him, not only by supporting his decision, but also by supporting his family and their struggles. This will not only help him and you daughter but his mother who is probably going through a rough time.

      Keep reading and researching. Educating yourself and your daughter educating herself will help you all immensely.

      Wishing you all the best of luck!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & Founder of U&E

      Delete
  10. Hello! My boyfriend, now fiance, of 3 years and some odd months are both very excited and nervous about the new adventures the Navy life will offer the both of us. I'm currently 20 and graduating with my AA in the May and he is set to ship out this upcoming September, which gives us time to plan a wedding for August, honeymoon, and mentally prepare ourselves until he goes to basic and A School. He took a job as an aviation mechanic, which I thought was very exciting since neither of us have been on a plane, so to know he'll be fixin' them up - that's wild to me! Anyways, I am an English major and plan on applying to an online degree program to finish my BA and maybe even Masters. We plan to live on base and Hawaii is a big possibility. I'm awfully nervous about being able to find a job, making friends, and keeping my own identity within this entire process. I don't want to be a domesticated housewife who pines for her husband nonstop, but I feel as if many military wives become bitter. How do I avoid this? Or is it a phase that I'll have to eventually pass through?

    We both decided the military would be great since we're both wanting to travel plenty, and with options to live in Japan, Greece, Italy, and Spain - we couldn't pass it up. As of right now he signed a 4 year plan and agreed that if we both enjoy the lifestyle we'll continue to do the retirement plan.


    I know this very long, but I'm nervous. I'm sorry! I also worry on the financial aspect of it. I worry I won't be able to work, and if so, part-time since I'm going to be a Full-Time student and working on side-projects for my writing to become published.

    I appreciate your post so much though! You are so uplifting in a time where I feel so overwhelmed with stress.


    -Amber

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    1. Hi Amber,

      Congratulations on so many upcoming successes in your life from the engagement to graduating and beginning an all new stage of your lives together.

      Sometimes it can be tough to find work in a new place and sometimes it can be tough to feel like you don't control where you get to look for work, but that's true even of civilian marriages when a couple has to move for one partner's work.

      When my husband and I were stationed in Fallon, Nevada, an extremely isolated and small town, I was terrified. Everyone said wives can never find work out there, but I refused to let the rumors dictate my life. I went out and looked for a job and I got one out of college and in my field, and I knew others who did too, so don't worry. As long as you don't give up, you don't listen to the horror stories and rumors, you will be all right. Even if you can't find a job in a specific area, you can make other arrangements like online work or even taking some time off to write or volunteer and gain experience that way.

      How to not grow bitter? That's a big question and it's not just a question for Navy Wives but all people. We all have times in our lives where we feel bitter and sometimes that is something that people work through and get over and sometimes people don't.

      I think it has to do with your general attitude. In general a positive attitude comes from living life with generosity toward others, gratefulness, and kindness even toward those you want to hate. When these become the center of your mindset, bitterness is unlikely to set in. Just the fact that you are aware that people can get bitter and you don't want to can mean that you will be aware if it starts to happen and willing to search for a way to work through it.

      I hope this is helpful, and I am so glad that the posts here are also helpful. Feel free to comment again with more questions, even long ones, or check out our Facebook forum.

      If you are interested in hearing my story of pursuing my dream of authorship in spite of being moved to a small town for my husband's military career, visit my author web page www.stephaniecarroll.net and sign up for my newsletter. The first emails tell the full story.

      Wishing you and your fiance all the best!
      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  11. I am so grateful to have found your page. The first night I read through many of the advice columns and felt a sense of relief - most blogs I've encountered are written from angry wives, who feel nothing but resentment, which I had to admit, frightened me. Since reading a never-ending amount of negativity from unhappy marriages, I decided I could ask you; a woman who has accomplished so much, how to avoid the bitterness. I know it was a broad question with no specific answer but I figured I'd see what wisdom you had to offer - and believe it or not, you've somehow reassured me more than any other current or former Navy wife yet, so for that, I thank you!

    Also, the night of discovering this blog, I went to Amazon to purchase your book. As soon as I read that it was similar to Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" I ordered it with no hesitation. I've read that specific story several times but it's ironic because I currently re-read the story for my American Literature 2 course last week. To top that off, I own Wuthering Heights by Bronte. Anyways, I look forward to reading the novel, and I'll be sure to leave a good review!


    I'll be sure to subscribe to see more of your journey! I truly do appreciate your kind words.


    Thanks again,

    Amber Twigg.

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    1. Dear Amber,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so happy that this blog has been encouraging and that I could provide some reassurance. It means the world to me to know when I have been of help like that.

      Also, thank you so much for purchasing my novel "A White Room." How crazy that you just read "The Yellow Wallpaper" for class! I love coincidences like that. I really hope you enjoy it, and being that your are a fan of the classics, I greatly look forward to hearing what you think.

      Keeping you and your Sailor in my thoughts and wishing you both all the best!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

      Delete
  12. Thank you so much I've been with my boyfriend for 5 months he went in a month after we got together and its been so hard on me but this website has helped me see what the next 6 yrs consist of ❤

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I'm so glad to hear it! Wishing you and your Sailor the best.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

      Delete
  13. I want to thank you. Honestly, I think I have always known I was going to be a military wife but now that I'm a Navy girlfriend I have been introduced to what it's really like. Part of me is scared.. He wants to be in for life, yet he wants children and family. I fully support him and I am so proud of him pursuing what he wants to do. I'm just afraid my kids will grow up without really knowing their father. He's the best man I've ever known and I trust and love him more than anything. I want him to be involved in his children's lives (when they exist of course lol) I want him to experience it. I don't want to make him feel like he's missed everything.

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    1. You are very welcome Anonymous. I'm glad the blog has been helpful.

      I understand your concerns regarding children, and you have every reason to have these concerns, but you can also rest easy that many, many couples have children in the military and are very successful in raising them and having close and healthy relationships with them. The military is very family friendly and accommodating in many ways. There are also plenty of horror stories and bad parents but that's the case everywhere, regardless of military status.

      It's also helpful to remember that even though it might seem like raising children in the military puts them at a disadvantage for having a relationship with their father, there are many, many fathers out there who travel for work and still have strong healthy bonds with their children. There are also fathers who are home every night and have terrible relationships with their children.

      It really comes down to the two of you and the love you share with your family. I'm sure the both of you will make incredible parents and give your future children everything they need and more because that's who you are as people. Also, your fears of the future are always going to make it seem like it will be much worse than it actually will be when the time comes. I know because I do that too, but don't worry, you've got what it takes to have a happy and loving family.

      Best of future wishes!
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

      Delete
  14. I am insanely grateful for this page. Again like most women said, this is by far the most helpful page I've found. I was in no way mentally ready to be in a relationship much less than someone in the Navy. I have never dated anyone in the military and he has a very special job....we are a week into his first deployment as well as mine and all hell has broken loose. It doesn't help that I have major trust issues, fear of abandonment and insecurities. I thought this would be easier than it has proven to be. I continue to think how much I am in love with him being that he's my best friend and the best man I've ever had in my life. I can't even know where he is. But we have wifi and we can constantly communicate for now. I keep thinking since I just turned 30 what if I am actually not strong enough for him. I'm proving to be a cause of his stress instead of lifting him up. This is all so bizarre for me. I have the keys to everything he owns and the combinations. I drive his brand new truck everyday. He trusts me I just don't know if i can handle it in the long run. Thinking of him being deployed and not having any communication almost makes me faint. I am working on my codependency now. He has plans of buying a house in my city when he returns after his 6 months. He has 5 years left. Are any of your books on podcasts??

    I am doubting myself and my strength more than his. I want nothing more to be the woman he needs me to be for him.

    I can't thank you enough.

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  15. I forgot to mention that we've been best friends since September, gave dating a shot, fell in love so quickly and he left 16 days after he told me he loved me. He's met my entire family. At this point it's just me and knowing it will all be worth it in the end.

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    1. Dear Smash,

      Thank you for commenting. I'm so happy that this blog has been helpful, and I appreciate you asking about my books. They are available in ebook or print but not audio . . . yet. Sign up for my author newsletter on www.stephaniecarroll.net to get updates about new releases including audio.

      Anywho, you have every right to feel everything you are feeling, and it's all normal stuff that we all go through during the first deployment. It's scary and hard! It's a huge thing to get used to as well, but you will and you can do it. It will get easier and easier, but the first month is probably the toughest.

      A lot of women, myself included, feel like we should be doing better during that first deployment. It's like we forget that we are justified in feeling what we are feeling because we are going through something that is seriously hard. When you feel those frightened and doubtful feelings bubbling up, imagine you aren't talking to yourself but a best friend going through the same thing. What would you tell her?

      Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. Be understanding and gracious and give yourself a little slack while you go through this transitional period. Give yourself a break. Give yourself a treat. Let yourself talk to your friends and vent to other Navy Girlfriends. If you don't know any, check out our Facebook group where we are always there to offer support.

      Don't try to worry about the future and handling this in the future for right now. For right now, focus on being kind to yourself while you endure and remember that going through these moments of doubt and fear and the moments when you end up screaming and crying in frustration, those are the moments that show how strong you are. It's not that you put on a tough face or shrug it off. It's that you endure the struggle, the difficulty, and the longing. That's not weakness, it's strength and you are strong enough to do this.

      I will keep you and your Sailor in my thoughts and prayers. You can do this!

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

      Delete
  16. Hi there, my name is Mikinzi and my boyfriend and I have been dating for a little over 3 months. We've known each other since we were 16 (we're 21 now) and were best friends and only recently decided we would try at a relationship. I haven't seen him in person since I was 19 so right now we've just been using FaceTime (which is a godsend) and iMessage, at the moment he is deployed so we are attempting to email each other as much as possible but it's so difficult. He's on the USS Ronald Reagan so he is literally on the other side of the world. I'm trying to finish off college while he finishes the last 2 years of the 4, but he is thinking about re-enlisting and I can't help but be a little nervous because as much as I see a future with him,a long term relationship is so unbelievably hard. and to "relationship" when you can't be with each other is starting to get to my confidence at our relationship. Not only can we not be with each other for 6 months at a time but for a year and a half! I'm really struggling with how I feel inside about our relationship because we've only physically been with each other as best friends never as a couple and I'm scared that come this christmas when we've been with each other for 9 months that that'll be the first time we see each other as a couple and it'll just either go way too fast or feel off because for the last (almost) 2 years we weren't with each other. I can see spending my life with him and we've talked about a future together and how it'll be but I'm not sure I can be the navy wife. I want so badly to be with him but I'm scared it's not going to work because for me spending 4 years and a million dollars (not really but man does it feel like it) on an education just to get married and become a navy wife and move around it would've all been for nothing, as far as an education goes. Lately when we talk I have been getting little pissy with him because I am so frustrated and fed up with not being able to see the guy I so desperately want to see. It's not fair, and it's hard to constantly justify my decision to be in a long distance relationship to others with a guy who is on a boat 6 months out of the year with no wi-fi, and with a 14 hour time difference. I feel like I am going to go insane with the jealousy, hurt (from being alone for so long without the guy I love and my best friend), and confusion. I'm so confused on everything. I'm scared he'll come back and not want to be with me, or come back and see that I chose school instead of marrying him. I haven't chosen it over him, I just chose to get an education and follow my dreams before I gave it up to be with him and travel with him and start a family. I'm all over the place and I'm sorry,. I think I just need some reassurance that I'm not crazy for trying to make a relationship work when getting the physical attention I want can't happen for a while. I want to see him and start a life together but it just feels so far away..

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    1. Hi Mikinzi,

      Thanks for commenting! Don’t worry! Everything you are feeling is completely reasonable. It’s normal to have fears and concerns, especially when you are doing something that doesn’t follow the norm. However, that doesn’t mean it’s doomed to failure. A lot of people break away from convention and find out that what they try turns out better than the normal way ever could and many others stick with what everyone else does and end up in an unhappy situation just because it’s what people do. Good for you for following your heart instead of the crowd.

      My husband and I have spent our lives breaking away from the norm. We eloped and had a wedding a couple years later. We didn’t have children and plan to adopt. We’ve made unconventional choices regarding our careers, etc. We are going on twelve years, happy as can be, and more so sometimes. We’ve had people question us along the way too, but we knew what we wanted and we went for it.

      Unfortunately, a part of doing things differently is having people question you. Dating or marrying someone in the military, you will always have people who don’t get it and who doubt it. You just got to accept that they are coming from a place of love, but you still get to have the final say in what you want and what you will do.

      I also want to point out that it sounds like you think being with a military man means that your education will be a waste and that you won’t be able to pursue a career. This is another one of those “norm” things that doesn’t apply to everyone. I got married at 19, while I was in college, and I graduated, and went on to work as a reporter and then become a published author.

      I know women who didn’t marry their sailors for years, and I know women who married, had children, and still finished college. You can do whatever you want to do and don’t let anyone tell you different! You might have to work hard or deal with some challenges that other people don’t, but as a couple you can make decisions about where you are going to live to make sure that you both have equal opportunities for your careers. You get to choose orders. You might only have a couple of options but if you’re career depends on you working in a city, then you two can choose San Diego over Lemoore or whatever.

      The really important thing is to talk to your sailor about all of these thoughts and fears in a rational way. I say rational because if you just go on a fear rant, he might get overwhelmed, but if you both communicate, and you make sure he is aware of your wants and needs for the future, there is no reason why you can’t work together to meet those goals. Both of you will have to make some compromises, but it doesn’t mean he gets everything and you get nothing.

      I also wanted to address your fears about the separation. If you were able to reconnect on a romantic level and start dating when you haven’t seen each other in person for years, then I think you will be fine when it comes to dealing with separation. Everyone starts out in a position of not knowing what’s going to happen or how they will make it, but you just keep at it. Over time you gain knowledge and a tolerance to the separation that makes it easier.

      Overall, I want you to know that you have just as much chance of having a successful relationship as anyone else. It’s okay to be afraid and unsure. It’s healthy that you are, but don’t let those thoughts or other people’s doubts prevent you from following your heart. You’ve already been doing that so you’ve already got what it takes. You are doing good, and you can do this! Be confident and kind to yourself. You are earning it!

      I’ve been reposting some Q&A lately and this question would be very helpful to some others out there so let me know if you have any issues with me reposting it. Thanks!

      With the best of wishes for you and your sailor,
      Stephanie Carroll

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  17. Please do share! If anyone feels the same I hope this can help! It feels great knowing that how I feel is normal, and just having someone who gets this life and who doesn't judge me for choosing to put myself in it is awesome. It really lets me know that if this is what I want and what he wants and WE want it then it can happen.

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    1. Thank you Mikinzi! That's so generous and I'm so glad this has been helpful! Wishing you both so much happiness!

      Delete
    2. Hey Mikinzi,

      Wanted you to know that I re-posted your question and my response as U&E's most recent post. Check it out because I added a few things that weren't in my original response. Read it here: http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2016/06/can-military-relationship-work-do-i.html

      Thanks again for letting me share your story with my readers. Hope all is going well!

      Also feel free to share with friends on Facebook or Twitter! That's always appreciated. ;)

      Stephanie

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  18. Hello! Thanks for this post, I'm coming up on a year soon with my boyfriend (Seabee) and this post & the others I've looked at are so helpful! Thankfully we haven't gone through long distance or deployments, but we've talked about the future and possibility of marriage several times. It's pretty scary - especially the idea of constantly being relocated since I've only ever lived in one area (one house even!). Thankfully he is wonderfully patient, but finding this from the perspective of someone that's been through it as a girlfriend and a wife it's so helpful! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for commenting Erika! It's so good to know when your posts are helpful and I just so appreciate your comment.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

      Delete
  19. Hi,

    This was really helpful but, I still have a few questions. My boyfriend, of four years, is currently in "A" school and now is when it is starting to hit me that it will not get easier from here on out. He's going to be stationed in one state and I am currently living in another state to finish my Bachelors degree, which I can hopefully get done within the next year. From everything I have researched and read on your blog it somewhat seems impossible for us to be together and/or get married while I also pursue my dreams of going to law school and become a lawyer. All I've been reading, not necessarily on your blog, is that everyone basically drops their lives to go live with their sailors, and don't get me wrong I love my sailor with all my heart, I'm crazy about him, but I do not want to drop my life. I don't want this to come out like I'm insulting you, or anyone else reading this, by saying that you dropped your life for your sailor, because trust me I would love nothing more than to follow him everywhere he goes and get to be there waiting for him when he comes back home. But, I always would love if I knew that there was a way of doing so without letting my dreams go at the same time. I was just wondering if you can help clarify my situation and give me some incite on how to deal with this or if I'm just over thinking a little too much. I'm just trying to see how the rest of my life with my sailor will play out. Thank you, for your time!

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    1. Hi Pamela,

      Don't worry. You aren't insulting anyone. We all have this fear and it's something that a lot of Military Wives and Girlfriends struggle with, but that doesn't mean it's a given or a must.

      Yes it is possible to stay together and not give up your dreams or your life. I'm proof. I got married at 19, finished my degree, became a journalist, and then a published author, blogger, and speaker.

      If you guys want to do it, you can do it. Navy relationships are hard and long distance and can involve unconventional situations but it's doable if you are both willing to work together and compromise.

      Many, many Navy girlfriends endure those years of separation and long distance relationships. Many, including myself, go to college and graduate and have a career, many successfully pursue their dreams, many wait to have children, and many have happy and strong relationships.

      Obviously, your success depends on the two of you and how much work you put into the relationship but can you do it? Is it possible or is it doomed? Yes it's possible and no it's not doomed.

      Don't follow the crowd or assume you have to live one way and only one way because so many in the Navy do. You can break away and pursue your lives together in whatever way you want as long as you don't give up on it and work together.

      You can't get everything you want. You might have to live in separate states while you finish your degree, or you might have to loose credits if you transfer. You might not be able to work in the specific location you want to but perhaps can choose a similar one from the options available to him. These are the kinds of things you will have to work together to figure out.

      At first, when he is in boot camp and A-School there isn't much choice but when he gets into the Navy proper, you will both have more to work with.

      Check out this article "Can a Military Relationship Work" for more: http://www.unhingedandempowered.com/2016/06/can-military-relationship-work-do-i.html

      My heart goes out to you and I wish you and your partner all of the best as you begin this journey.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

      Delete
  20. I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years and the navy is literally turning him into a total new person and taking him away and I am pissed and I don't know how anyone deals with this.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I'm sorry. I understand what you are going through and it's not fun. It's okay to be pissed and to feel frustrated and lost. We all do, especially at first.

      Right now you might be trying to figure out how you are going to deal with this in the long-term because it feels impossible to deal right now, but the thing is that trying to figure out the future before you figure out the present won't be helpful, just overwhelming. The good news is, I can tell you from experience that it does get easier with time, so what you are feeling now won't be what you feel then.

      As far as dealing right now. There are a variety of things you can do to make things easier and which are discussed in more depth throughout this blog (use the search bar to help find those posts), but a quick list:

      1. Create a strong network of people and groups you can go to in order to vent or just talk to or hang out with. This can be friends, family, online groups, Navy groups, etc. Check out our Facebook Group. There is a link to it in the menu bar of this blog.

      2. Get in contact with and get on the email lists of your Sailor's Family Readiness Group and Ombudsmen. These are the people who can keep you informed about work schedules and official businessmen. And yes they do speak to girlfriends.

      3. Get hobbies, plan projects, plan trips, or go for that future education to fill in the extra time you will have when he goes away. Doing this gives you socialization and helps the time go by faster. What is something you've always wanted to do but haven't had the time for?

      4. Keep reading up on this stuff. Do your homework. In addition to this blog SpouzeBuzz and MilitarySpouse and Military One Source are all great resources.

      5. Give yourself permission to be upset, to get frustrated, to cry, to scream, to get angry even. It's okay to have those feelings. It doesn't mean you can't handle this or that you aren't tough enough. Going through this, sticking it out despite those moments, that's what reveals your strength. Enduring those moments is what shows you can do this.

      I'm wishing you and your Sailor all the luck in the world.
      Be patient with him and with yourself during this transition.

      With Love,
      Stephanie Carroll
      Author & U&E Founder

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  21. Hi so i have a question. My boyfriend is joining the navy soon but he wants me to go with him. But in order footer that we do have to be married right. Only wives can live and be moved with them. Not girlfriends right?

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    1. Thank you for commenting Whitney,

      You are right that the Navy will not pay to move you unless you are married; however, many Navy girlfriends choose to move to where their Sailor is stationed on their own. Some things you should know, though, is that your boyfriend will start off going to boot camp where you can't visit. After that he goes to A-school which is not where he will be permanently and he can't live off base or even go off base without permission at first. He can as time goes by and he gets more privileges. After A-school then he finds out where he gets orders and they may not always be where he thought he was going to go.

      So yes you can move with him, on your own dime, but I would hold off until he is settled at his new duty station before you two even try to start planning it.

      I hope this was helpful and I wish both of you the best of luck.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll

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  22. a lot of these girls are so young and most will not make it. If you remember that you have made a commitment for forever while taking one day at a time. Remember that strength does not come over-night but it is grown on a daily basis and built upon to make you a women of courage, perseverance and valor. Everyday takes commitment and commitment makes it forever. God bless you all as you serve your country in the most important role.

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    1. Thank you Anonymous. That's very kind and appreciated.

      Sincerely,
      Stephanie Carroll
      www.stephaniecarroll.net

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I love, love your comments and questions! Just remember to not mention any security info about your Sailor! Thank you!

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