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I Do, I Do, I Do...Or Do I?

This is the first part of a three-part series that will examine military marriages.

You can tell by the way he smiles at you when you do something quirky. Perhaps it is the way the sun shines through his silky crew cut. Maybe he just has a great butt and looks good in uniform.
Whatever nugget of knowledge propels you to it, you know the higher truth. It’s true love and you have been caught, hook, line and sinker. There may be no valid explanation for it and you are about to be reeled in for the ride of your life. 
But wait!
Before you commit to a marriage, ala Department of Defense, make sure you at least go into the situation with your eyes wide open.
Everything may seem positively perfect at this particular moment in time; rest assured, time doesn’t stand still. Reality has a nasty way of pushing its way back into your life especially when deployments, ID cards and PCS moves are involved.
The truth is simple.  Being married to someone in the military is not a job for the faint of heart. In fact, being married at all is a monumental challenge. Meeting that challenge will be easier with a sense of vision and open lines of clear communication. 
Horribly unromantic but nevertheless useful issues to discuss ahead of time include the following:
Are you financially compatible? At this point, that may not seem like a big deal but that may eventually change. Do you know your loved one’s credit score? Have you both been fiscally responsible or are you about to enter into a disastrous twilight zone of no returns for a very long time? Do have a basic financial plan or can you put one together before you become the blind leading the blind? Do either of you have outstanding debts or obligations that still need to be met? Where do you both see yourself, financially, one year from now? Five years? Ten? Who is going to pay the monthly bills? Are you going to have a budget? Are you going to combine your funds or keep separate accounts?

It may be all about the passion now, baby, but it won’t always be and what will you do then? Are you able to talk with each other comfortably about sex? What do you expect in your relationship from each other? What about past relationships?  You may only have eyes for each other now, but come clean about past liaisons that may medically influence your current relationship.
One? Two? Three? A dozen? When it comes to thoughts of starting of family, it helps to know how the other guy feels even if immediate plans don’t include them. In a perfect world, when you would you consider starting a family? What do you imagine your  parenting style might be? Do you envision both of you working as you’re also raising your family? If you don’t want to start a family right away, how are you going to prevent that? Are there any personal or professional benchmarks you want to meet beforehand?
Chances are pretty strong that you won’t live in one place for a very long time. If you’re used to having a supportive family and circle of friends nearby, that may change dramatically. How do you feel about that? Are you able to adjust easily or at least willing to give it an honest try? Are you able to reach out and build new supportive relationships, over and over again? Are you able to pack up everything you own, sans spouse because he or she will probably already be working in the new job and waiting for you to join.
If you have one already, will it be compatible with a potential mobile military lifestyle? If you don’t have one and want one, how are you going to achieve it? Will you give each other the necessary support to help you both build and manage the careers you want?
The Ups and Downs
Marriages are filled with ups and downs…military marriages even more so. Before you decide to live with someone who wears a uniform for the rest of your life, have a clue regarding how you each handle the tough times.  As a military spouse, you may spend a lot of your time alone. You may think that your husband or your wife will always be able to put you first, but that just doesn’t happen when you’re married to a U.S. service member. Like it or not, that’s the way it is.
As you discuss these areas, you may find that you have little or no differences at all. On the other hand, you may be worlds apart from each other. Relax. There are no right or wrong answers. There is only clarity or a lack of it. Having it, however, will help you enter into a state of holy matrimony with the odds for survival more in your favor.

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