Happy MilSpouse Monday friends!
Last week I took on a fairly controversial topic and wrote about my feelings on Service and Sacrifice as they apply to us as military spouses. This week I am getting controversial again…so don’t hate me! Or do…but at least read this first before you make up your mind 🙂
I am so incredibly glad that I was not a young military spouse!
Many military couples marry when they are still quite young. If you are in any Facebook groups for military significant others you know what I am talking about. At least once a week, someone posts that they are 17 and fighting with their parents about their decision to get married as soon as they turn 18 or graduate high school.
If you’ve read my military spouse story, you know that was definitely not the path I took. While it does mean that I often feel “old” compared to other spouses, I have no regrets.
I learned how to be independent
When you go straight from your parents’ house to getting married and living with your spouse, you miss out on a lot of opportunities to learn who you are as an individual. I lived on my own, paid my own bills, and learned what my individual priorities are before I even met my husband.
As a military spouse now, I see that as an advantage. I value the time I spent on my own because I am better prepared to be happy and functional even when my husband is gone for significant periods of time.
We went through our first deployment together before we were married
This was a huge thing for me. Again, if you read my story you already know this, but my husband actually deployed three months after we started dating. Deployment sucks. No questions about that. But I am so glad we went through the first one when I wasn’t 100% used to having him around all the time. I was still living alone and working a job that required a lot of travel so it made deployment go by a lot faster.
The next deployment will be “easier” in a sense because I have gone through it once before and we worked out a lot of the little issues with communication and such. Which prepares me for the fact that it will be oh so much harder because I am in a routine that includes having him around on a day to day basis to help pay bills, do chores, and parent. It’ll be tough but at least it isn’t entirely new territory.
Marriage is a lot of work
By waiting to get married, I gave myself a chance to be selfish. That sounds bad to say, but what I mean is that I had a few years of living just for myself. I got to make choices about what I wanted to do that didn’t affect anyone else. I moved across the country for college. When the opportunity came up, I studied abroad in Italy. During the summers I worked at a camp in the mountains.
Being single into my early twenties gave me the opportunity to have adventures and really discover who I was and what I enjoyed. Marriage does not necessarily give you those opportunities.
Military marriage is even harder. You live where the military tells your spouse you are going to live. You move when they decide it’s time for you to move. I think I am better able to adapt to the changes thrown our way by the military because I had the opportunity to be selfish before I was marries. Compromise comes easier now that I have some perspective.
Marriage means you have to be able to compromise with your spouse pretty often. Military marriage creates a three way relationship. You compromise with your spouse and also follow what the military tells you (well your spouse, but you are included by default) to do. And that can create some serious tension in a relationship.
Weddings are fun, and marriage can be too, but it does take work and investment from both parties. I was not ready for that kind of commitment when I was in my early twenties.
We are more financially stable
Our finances still aren’t great, but they are a lot better now than they used to be. Young married couples in the military can go through a lot of financial stress. It’s often difficult to find jobs as a spouse because the job-seeking population near military bases is higher than average. Young spouses also typically do not have much work experience to help them get a job in an over-saturated market.
Additionally, there are times when military pay doesn’t come through correctly. We are still trying to get my husband’s pay corrected. After five months, the issue is partially resolved. During that time, his paychecks have been short about $1500 to $2000. Thankfully we have established credit and a savings account. Well. We had a savings account. With backpay coming through soon we will be able to put money back into savings and pay down the debt we incurred while his pay was short.
Ultimately we won’t be much worse for wear. If we had found ourselves in that position when we were 18 or 19, it would be a very different story.
In addition to being able to handle the actual financial burden, there is an emotional strain to consider as well.
One of the biggest things couples fight about is money. Despite the fact that we were able to get through this recent situation, it still caused tension in our marriage. If the pressure was even higher I am not sure what would have happened.
Getting married young isn’t wrong…but it would have been wrong for me
Many couples who get married young have truly amazing marriages. I have nothing but respect for those who are able to make it work. That said, I know getting married a little later than average (at least military average) was the right choice for me.
I would love to hear from you! Did you get married young? What challenges were there? What were the benefits? Would you do it differently?