I have heard many stories and experiences regarding being in a relationship with or being married to an active-duty soldier or Marine. What to expect during deployments, living in on-base housing, preparing the kids for deployments, and so on and so forth. Also, basically living as a single woman while your spouse is gone. There is a never-ending supply of support groups (online and real-life) and resources easily available if you’re with someone who is active duty.
What I haven’t heard that much about is being in a relationship or married to a military veteran. What to expect in the relationship or how to deal with certain situations—perhaps, because there is no set way to know what to expect. I have dated someone who was active duty, and I am now married to my husband whom I met shortly after he completed his service in the Marine Corps. I will tell you being married to a veteran is a huge change. It has its own set of dilemmas and extra things you have to work through together and requires supporting your spouse even more so.
Everything doesn’t come as easily as you may think it should or expect it to because these are different circumstances.
Being in a relationship with someone who is active duty or a veteran takes a very strong set of people who fight for their relationship on a regular basis. They have to learn one another, grow together, and stick together. Being in a relationship or marriage with someone who is active duty or a veteran is not for the faint of heart. It takes a strong, committed couple to endure the relationship and enjoy it as it blossoms. As with everything else in this life, there will be happy, lovely days and there will be tough, aggravating days.
My husband experiences nightmares, the kind when he’s wailing and yelling in his sleep and wakes suddenly and just wants to hold me so he can be comforted back to sleep. This happens many nights. He also suffers from PTS (post-traumatic stress) and his moods tend to change more than normal people.
When you’re married to a military veteran, there isn’t really a normal. Everyone experiences different situations and reacts to those situations in their own way. He also has several disabilities that are service-related, including hearing loss, bad knees, back pain, and other issues. It makes his daily life a bit harder, and he has many prescriptions to take and frequent doctor appointments to keep.
All of those things make it hard on a man—he is supposed to be the strong caretaker, and it leaves him feeling defeated at times.
It hasn’t stopped him from providing for our family and he is an extremely hard worker helping to run our family business. My husband is one of the hardest working people I know. Although, that is a blessing and a curse since I always complain because he isn’t home as often as I would like (I’m only human). But I appreciate everything he does for our family.
Our marriage is something we have to work harder for at times, but it is worth it in the end. I know the man I married, and even if he can’t always show it, he’s here for me and our kids, and he’s pretty amazing. Some days I want to just smack him because of how he acts or something he says, but then I stop and think briefly about what he has been through that led him to this place. He also has his own way of doing things, like being the slowest person alive to shower or to do anything really, but he says it’s because he doesn’t have to follow rules 24/7 anymore, so he indulges in things we take for granted like a long, hot shower.
Veterans are special, they have seen and experienced so much that we cannot even begin to grasp.
Many people don’t understand or realize PTS and other issues that affect so many veterans. PTS is real, and it can appear in different forms. If you marry a veteran, you have to slow down on your expectations of normal living. Take it day by day. Give as much (or more) than you take.
Being married to a veteran is by no means a walk in the park. But it’s a walk I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. My marriage has and still does teach me a lot about life that otherwise I wouldn’t even blink twice at. I am blessed with the opportunity to be this man’s wife and the mother to his awesome children. I can’t wait to continue on this walk and grow old with my veteran.