Freedom isn't Free: Dating Soldiers at War

The iconic image of a World War II soldier dipping a nurse into a spontaneous kiss on the open streets often elicits feelings of nostalgia and romance among us. All the glamour aside, the reality of dating when one or both of the people in the relationship are called to duty is a hard one. Even with advances in technology, maintaining a healthy relationship while one partner is on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan can be trying at best. With the right amounts of dedication and motivation however, it is definitely possible to keep things on the right track. Whether you or your significant other is involved in the Army, Navy or Air Force, the tips in this article will help overcome common difficulties.

The difficulties of a normal long-distance relationship are compounded by the stresses of war and uncertainty, and it takes a lot of effort to keep the relationship alive. In a typical war zone, it may be hard for people in service to have access to reliable communication devices and networks. Above that, there are time zones and differing schedules to be reckoned with. Since phone calls can easily result in outrageous bills, another option is to use VOIP or online services such as Skype. Set a time each day for a video phone call to catch up. It often helps to be able to see each other while talking so that even though the distance might be great, it still feels like each person has had some face time with the other. Another option is to use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to leave a few regular updates about day-to-day happenings. These updates can be written and read regardless of time differences. One of the best ways to stay in regular contact is to let each other know about the little things that happen during our day. It makes them feel more intimately connected and diminishes the feeling of being left out of the other person’s life. Of course, don’t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned letter or care package too! To most people today, it seems like a quaint idea, but to someone stationed far away from home, there is nothing better than unwrapping a box of favorite goodies and seeing the love that has been put into that parcel.

The question of fidelity always arises in any long distance relationship. Loyalty is truly tested to its limits as well as our trust in our partners. It helps to come to an understanding before the other person goes abroad. Some couples prefer to switch to an open relationship with the understanding that they may become involved with other people during the time apart. Others opt to put the relationship on hold, or stay true and wait to be reunited. Whatever is decided, make sure that both parties clearly understand the boundaries that have been set. During times of loneliness, confide in each other. Receiving words of comfort from the other partner can go a long way in helping to strengthen the relationship. Try to join a support group or seek out other people who are going through the same experience and discuss coping mechanisms with them. Above all, be honest with each other. When the temptation to stray does arise, consider the implications in the long run. Very often it may simply be a passing fancy, induced out of loneliness, and it is something that many people experience. Choosing to act upon it is a different matter though. Instead of doing so, talk to the other partner or try to stay busy with new hobbies or work.

Another downfall of long distance relationships during war is that even though both partners may remain loyal and communicative, the spark tends to fizzle out after a while. Try to keep things fresh by devising ways to interact with each other even over long distances and with the possibility of low communications. For example, a project where each person shoots a series of photographs of their daily lives and then trades the images at the end of the month can help couples to feel better connected with each other. Furthermore, it helps them to continue thinking of each other each day. Playing an online board game together, if the option exists, is another way to indulge in an everyday activity just for fun. Set up surprises for each other; get in touch with the other person’s friends and ask them to arrange a surprise dinner or gift on your behalf. As mentioned earlier, it does take a lot more effort compared to a regular relationship, but the benefits are well worth it.

Check out the resources below for more long distance war-time relationships and how to keep it fresh!

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