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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

Surviving the first few years of marriage in the military:

Updated: Sep 17, 2022

Whoof! This topic is tough but also near and dear to my heart.

Just a quick disclaimer- I’m not going to say that all newly married couples who have a spouse join the military will have trouble in the first few years. I’ve seen many couple get through this time fairly easily.

But unfortunately I’ve seen many couples go through this time with a lot of difficulty & struggles. We were definitely one of the latter.

We had a lot against us in these first few years of marriage, being new to the military life, moving across country from family, and being new, young parents.

We had such a hard time consisting of a lot of fights, toxic behavior and a lot of disrespect towards each other.... but we made it through and I’m so incredibly glad we did.

There were definitely many times when we almost threw in the towel and I know many couples choose this route (which honestly may be the right choice for a lot of people) . But I’m really grateful that we were able to get through these rough years and have (for the most part haha) a really awesome, strong marriage and get to raise our kids in a happy, loving environment.

We definitely didn’t get through it gracefully and there were things we did that definitely didn’t help our situation, but there were other  things that I think helped get us through it.

First thing I would recommend and it’s basically the whole backbone of this blog is for the non-military spouse to find something of their "own". I won’t harp on this part too much because I’ve already talked a lot about the importance of maintaining independence as a spouse. But I just can’t stress enough how important it is for spouses to find their own friends, passion, work, hobby, etc., especially in these first few years of marriage.

Another thing I recommend (especially if you have kids) is to make sure to prioritize time alone with your spouse outside of the home. We were really bad about either never leaving the home or the times we did always hanging out with my husbands coworkers/their spouses or at military functions. I really think it would’ve been helpful to get a break from military life & parent life and spend some more quality time together.

Reach out for help!!!! It's something I don’t always love sharing but have realized now one- how common it is, and two- how helpful it can be to not feel alone in seeking out help.

When we hit a very rough patch in our second year of marriage we ended up receiving counseling through the base we were at. While I won’t say this counselor was mind-blowing (probably best to go off base to a specialized relationship therapist) I will say just having a third party person to offer advice and thoughts was hugely helpful.

Lastly- communicate and push through!

Honestly, even with doing all of the above it may still be hard to get past these first few years. I chalk a lot of our issues up to just immaturity/lack of trust/lack of respect that we had to gain over the years. But the more you can communicate how you are feeling, what your needs are, what is hurting you (and asking your partner the same!!) the better and quicker you may be able to gain that understanding and respect needed to create a positive space as partners.

I also think a lot of it is just Sticking. It. Out.

I’m not recommending to always stay in an unhappy, abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationship. There are definitely plenty of times when it’s best to leave.

But if you do have love for each other and feel the potential for a really positive, loving marriage, I do think sometimes you just have to stick through the bullshit, the dumb fights, the jealousy, etc. and constantly remind yourself that if you are both in it together & working towards positive partnership than it DOES get better.

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