Are you dating a Marine, or are you thinking about starting a relationship with someone who is in the Marines? There are things that you should know to help you have a more successful relationship.
Before we get started, it is important to understand that the expression “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” is a very true thing. It will not matter if he or she is an active duty service member, or if he has been discharged after serving for several years.
The experience of being a Marine, and especially of being on deployment, will stay with a Marine forever, and it can have a big impact on your relationship as a result.
Let’s take a look at some of the important things you should know about dating a Marine, as well as some of the pros and cons of the experience so that you can have a successful relationship.
Things To Know When Dating A Marine
It is not easy to be a Marine. The branches of the Armed Services include the Air Force, the Navy, the Army and the Marines, and they also include the reserve duty members and the Coast Guard. Though each branch has its own specialized training, there is no question that going through basic training in the Marine Corps will make or break you.
If you are dating someone who has just enlisted and is going through basic training, be aware that training trumps everything. There will be select weekends and nights off, but he won’t be available whenever you want him to be.
If he is already a Marine, then your relationship can be put to the test with prolonged absences during deployments or being stationed in foreign countries. Sometimes families (including significant others) are allowed to move to a foreign base, but it doesn’t always mean you are ready to pack up and leave.
And when you are with a retired Marine, he or she might still feel the lingering effects of being in the military, especially if he or she saw combat. He might have nightmares or have anger issues stemming from those deployments. She might be affected by losing comrades in the field.
No matter what the situation is, it is very important to understand that when you are dating a Marine, you are taking on some baggage and if you want the relationship to last then you need to be prepared to shoulder the burden and support your Marine through thick and thin.
Pros of Dating a Marine
Though it is hard to make generalized statements about loyalty in relationships with people in any profession, Marines are known for their dedication and loyalty. If you meet the right one you are almost guaranteed to have a strong relationship because if you are meant to be together he will value the bond you share. Bonds are something Marines understand and appreciate because they have to have bonds with members of their team when they are in the field.
Trust is another very important virtue for Marines. It goes both ways, because you both have to trust each other when he is on deployment. If you do have that sense of trust between each other, then you will see that loyalty, trust and dedication pay off with a very strong relationship all around.
Members of the military enjoy steady pay. (Except when there are government shutdowns, but those don’t happen often enough to worry about them) They are paid well because they work hard and put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.
Having a reliable, steady income can be helpful for any relationship. If you decide to move in together, you can always rely on her income because she will always be paid well and on time. Marines work hard and they love to play hard, too, so expect to be treated to nice dinners and drive nice cars. (Don’t forget there are lots of military discounts to be enjoyed, too, which are a nice perk for a job well done)
Major Sex Appeal
This one is a bit tongue in cheek, but it is still absolutely true. Women love being with big, strong men (like cops, fireman, and soldiers), which is a prerequisite of being a Marine. Men love being with strong women, too, so having a Marine for a girlfriend is a major bragging right. There is nothing like telling your friends that you’re dating a Marine.
There is something alluring about a man in uniform, too. He commands respect wherever he goes. You’ll want to be seen with him, and you will love seeing the way people thank him for his service when you go out together.
Cons of Dating a Marine
Dealing With Deployment and Living Overseas
If your Marine is active duty, then he will be expected to go on deployment. Deployments generally last around 6 months but can be more or less time than that depending on the circumstances. If he is a member of an elite team or has specialized training, he could be in high demand all the time.
Deployment is rough. There is no way to sugar coat it. Being away physically is very demanding on both partners, and even though technology has made it easier to have face to face conversations through Facetime or Skype, it just isn’t the same.
There’s also the issue of not being able to control when he can call you. You might be waiting all day for his call only to find out that he can’t call. And you certainly can’t pick up the phone and call whenever you want, either. This can be incredibly frustrating for anyone, but it puts a great deal of stress on both partners.
Obviously one of the biggest challenges with deployment is being apart for extended periods of time. He won’t be around for holidays or birthdays. You will have to get used to going places and doing things by yourself. If you are not comfortable with being alone for long periods of time, then you might find that dating a Marine is not for you.
Post Traumatic Stress and Side Effects
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real thing that impacts tens of thousands members of the military. Sometimes PTSD doesn’t present itself for a long time. He might seem fine upon his return from deployment, and then one night he destroys his pillow in his sleep because he is having nightmares about something that happened to him.
He will have seen things in the field that will never leave his mind. He will lose friends in battles. He will be asked to do things that he might not want to do, but duty leaves him no choice.
PTSD can manifest itself in so many ways. She might have night terrors or not want to leave the house. He might be startled by loud noises. It might scare you to see these reactions. It’s important to encourage your Marine to seek out help for both of your sakes.
If your Marine is no longer active duty, then he may experience the effects of PTSD long after his active duty service has ended. It might not show up right away, but it could be triggered by a long-forgotten memory or seeing someone from his past.
It doesn’t matter when the PTSD shows up, rather what is important is that you recognize the signs of PTSD and not assume that it’s rage or anger springing up out of nowhere. It will take strength on your part to help your Marine navigate the rough waters of PTSD and the side effects, so make sure you educate yourself about the condition and ways you can help.
All in all, dating someone with PTSD can be difficult but not impossible.
Not Being Able to Relate
One of the biggest challenges for a military spouse or partner is not being able to understand what their partner has been through, especially after a long, rough deployment.
Wartime deployment is particularly challenging. If your Marine has lost friends from his unit in battle, it will feel to him like he lost part of himself.
As we mentioned with PTSD in the section above, your role will be to support your Marine. If you have not served in the military it will not help to say you understand what he’s going through because you don’t.
What you must do is to be ready to offer your love and support when it is needed, even when she tries to push you away. It will be hard, and you might feel like you want to give up. This is where you must be brutally honest with yourself: Are you ready to take on this role? If the answer is no, then you need to evaluate your place in the relationship.
The Bottom Line
When you are with someone who is a member of the Armed Forces, there are challenges across the board whether or not he is active duty or retired. It can be brutal to deal with long deployments, especially in wartime, and even when he comes home the odds are good that he will be dealing with the long-term side effects – mental and physical – of his deployment.
It takes a strong partner to be able to withstand this stress. Many people can’t do it. Many people try and fail. Many people get burned out and leave the relationship. The people who are able to withstand being part of a Marine’s world are rewarded with strong, committed relationships. Sure, all relationships require work, but being with a Marine in a healthy and strong relationship is worth it.