The day is finally here. Your significant other has left home to start his journey to become a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. You may have conflicted emotions- proud and happy for him taking this next step in his life, afraid for his health and safety, worried how the distance and time apart will affect your relationship. This might be your first time away from him for an extended period of time, and you might have no idea what to expect. But whatever you’re feeling right now, these five tips will help make the next eight to thirteen weeks at least a little bit easier.
Rekindle both new and old friendships.
Losing your significant other for ten, twelve, or even thirteen weeks can leave a big gap in your life. Time that you used to spend with him is now empty, leaving you to think about how much you miss him and how long he will be gone. Instead of staying at home, thinking about how he’s gone, fill up your free nights and weekends with friends new, old, and even ones that you haven’t seen or spoken with in a while. Not only will it fill up all that free time you’ve suddenly found yourself with, you’ll also have a chance to build a support network with people that care about you, that you enjoy being around, and you’ll get a chance to take your mind off of your S/O and what he’s doing. Bonus for friends that know your S/O and your relationship- they can be especially sensitive and, if they’re good friends, help you feel better.
Find people going through similar situations.
You’re reading this website, so you’re already off to a good start on this one. Connecting with your friends is great, but there’s nothing like talking to someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Join social networks, look for blogs online, and talk to people. You might make a friend that’s going through the same thing you are, and you could even form an online support group of people that you can talk openly with about how you’re feeling. This gives you someone to vent with, someone to comfort you, and someone you can comfort. You might even find that comforting someone else brings you your own sense of peace. Not to mention, when you go out to your S/O’s graduation, you could meet your new friends in person and become friends for life.
Facebook has many groups for military significant others, so hit up that search bar and see for yourself! These groups are fantastic for meeting people with shared experiences, asking questions, and hearing about what military life is really like for girlfriends and spouses.
Reconnect with your hobbies.
This one goes back to my first tip for you-you’ve got to find a way to fill up that free time your significant other’s departure has left you with. This is the perfect time to really delve into things that interest you or even try something new. Start writing. Pick up a musical instrument. Draw. Take a community college course. If you’re already in college, join a few student organizations or a professional club. Take some time for professional development and better yourself for your future. Not only will you be able to beef up that resume, you could also develop new friendships (see tip #2) or make professional connections, which will help you on that dreaded job search.
Pick up a gym membership and set up a workout routine. Exercise is a great way to let out your pent-up emotions in a healthy way, release endorphins in your brain that help you feel better, and get in great shape for your S/O’s return. He’ll be working out like a fiend as well, so dropping those couple extra pounds or putting on some muscle tone yourself could set you both on a path to a healthy and active lifestyle (which he’ll need to maintain, anyway, so it’s great to encourage him).
Write letters. Lots of letters.
This will be your main source of communication with your S/O for the next couple of months, so buy some stationary, find a cozy place, get comfortable and start writing. It doesn’t really matter what you write about, whether it’s what you’ve done that day, how you’re feeling, or how much you can’t wait to see him. He’ll appreciate every scrap of mail he gets and those letters you send his way will help him get through the mental and physical challenges he’s faced with during basic training. You can even take this chance to use some creativity- buy some stickers, print off some of your favorite pictures, or send some newspaper clippings of his favorite sports team (just make sure he’s allowed to receive those clippings first- you don’t want to get him into trouble). The internet is a great resource for finding creativity- see what other significant others have sent to their trainees in basic training and emulate it. Your significant other will appreciate the time you’ve put into sending him things and he’ll know that you’ve been thinking about him, even if you haven’t gotten to speak to him in weeks.
Writing letters can also be a great therapy for you. You might find that lighting a candle, setting up a picture of the two of you, and writing what’s been on your mind can help you feel less lonely.
Finally, remember why you’re here.
If you’re still with your recruit while he’s training, there’s definitely a reason for it. You made a big commitment to stay with him, so sometimes it’s just a good idea to think about why you made that commitment. Don’t forget, he’s doing this to become a better person, to further himself, and to gain a steady career. Whether you’re married, engaged, or in a steady relationship, he’ll be able to better both of your lives. Just think about the person that he’ll become when he graduates basic training- a person with self-discipline, drive, and direction in life. That’s something we can all look up to.
Whether you’re a week in, a month in, or you’re about to say goodbye to your recruit, remember these tips and you can make the most of your time away from your significant other. He or she is learning a lot, growing, and having a lot of experiences that will change them inside and out. This is a great time for you to grow as well. Become more independent, build better friendships and have new experiences, as well. Start checking off those few things on your bucket list, and when you sit down to write him or her a letter, you’ll have plenty to take about! Most importantly, just think about how great it will feel to be reunited once again.
Stay strong. You’ve got this.