After dating for about three years, my boyfriend, Jon finally proposed to me. He had decided to go into the military and join the Air Force and he wanted to propose before he left for basic training. I was officially a military significant other. After being engaged for just one month, my boyfriend turned fiance left for basic training.
Related: Being a National Guard Spouse
At the time, he had been staying in the guest room at my mom’s house and it was nice because I had been able to see him every day. I remember he had to leave very early in the morning.
It was still dark outside when I got up to tell him goodbye. I remember the emptiness I felt inside after he left. I had no idea what to expect.
Would he be okay?
When would I hear from him again?
What if he changed?
So many thoughts and questions ran through my mind. I knew the next few months would be hard: I would be planning a wedding by myself and learning all about what it means to be a military spouse.
My service member is in basic training, now what?
While this was a tough time for me, it is something that I am so glad I went through. I grew so much as a person during this time and learned about the true meaning of resilience.
While every person will have a different experience, I believe that you too can grow and find a strength you never knew you had before.
If your significant other is going through basic or about to go through basic, here are some things you can do to help get you through this time.
When Jon first told me he was going to join the military, I was devastated. I knew nothing about the military except what I heard on the news and I was scared. Soon after, I decided to turn that fear into action.
I took to the internet and tried to find as much information as I could about the Air Force, basic training, and military life in general. If this was something he was going to do, then I needed to be prepared and learn as much as possible.
One thing you will learn very quickly in the military lifestyle is that some of your best friends, support, and resources will be online. Start with social media. There are many many Facebook groups for military spouses, girlfriends, and fiances.
Try searching for message boards or blogs for military S.O.’s. These types of sites will offer plenty of support and encouragement and you will be able to ask questions about what you’re going through from people who’ve gone through it too!
Learn How to Cope.
Those first few weeks after your loved one leaves are the hardest. I cried a lot. I took my phone with me everywhere, even in the bathroom so I didn’t miss a call.
You will probably not know when the first phone call will come through, but prepare for it to be very short. That first call will be just long enough for them to tell you they are safe, and to give you their mailing address.
I missed that very first phone call from basic. I had a meeting with our wedding photographer and I put the phone down for just a few minutes. If you miss that first call, it will be hard, but they will be able to leave a message with the same information.
One of the best things I did to help me cope was to write him a letter every single day. I kept a Word document up on my computer and would type things in it throughout the day and as I had time.
I talked to him about my thoughts and concerns and I told him about my day and what was going on with the wedding planning. It was very cathartic for me and he loved having those letters from home to help him keep pushing through.
I also encourage you to find a military spouse mentor during this time. It helps to have at least one person to call or talk with when you’re having a hard day or just a hard time coping.
While many of your family members and friends won’t truly understand what you’re going through, another military spouse or significant other can help guide and encourage you through those bad days and give you the encouragement that you need.
Take Care of Yourself.
While you may not feel up to going out and doing things after your significant other leaves, you still need to take care of YOU. Give yourself a few weeks to grieve and miss your loved one, but then try to move on and find things you can do to keep busy.
For me, cleaning, organizing, and wedding planning were some of the main things that I immersed myself in during this time. I also started exercising. When I exercised I could put all my energy and feelings into my workout.
It would help me feel and look better and it helped me deal with the stress of our situation. If working out is hard for you, try going to yoga or doing deep breathing and meditation. These things can help you decompress and help your body to heal from the stress.
Remember: it’s okay to go out. It’s okay to have fun. Many significant others may feel guilty during this time, but it’s okay, you can still have a life even when they’re gone.
Go out for a girl’s night with friends, go for a walk and get some fresh air, travel to see new places and people. These things will help keep you busy and keep the time flying by!
If you’re really having a hard time, go talk with a counselor. This can help you process your thoughts and feelings and also help you to better cope during this time.
Kathryn Sneed is Christian military wife and stay-at-home mom to her two special needs kiddos. She has a passion for God, family, the military and helping others through her blog and services. Connect with her on Facebook or Pinterest.
Want more on military life?
- The Best Advice for the Military Girlfriend
- 5 Best Ways to Support Your Service Member at Basic
- The Real Reason Being a Military Wife is So Hard
- 50+ Things Military Spouses Can Do During Deployment Besides “Stay Busy”