I Didn’t Choose the Military, I Chose Him

Military relationships are not Dear John. It’s not romantic. It’s not wonderful. When you ask a little girl where she sees herself one day, most likely, the answer will not be sleeping in a bed by herself while her husband is fighting a war and her kids are asking where daddy is.

Most people already understand that so it’s no surprise that I often get asked the question, “Why would you ever put yourself through that?”

I asked myself that same question when I first met Taylor. We met at a small gathering of friends and he kept talking about leaving for bootcamp in a few weeks and how excited he was. Being a military girlfriend was never in my plans and I never even thought about what it would be like. Actually, believe it or not, it was a deal breaker for me.

But our second date was when I saw Taylor. And I don’t mean literally. I had my contacts in that first time and could see just fine. I saw what kind of person he was. After that second date I felt like I had just met my best friend. It was the best and easiest date that I had ever been on. I drove home and battled with my previous thoughts and what I considered to be a deal breaker.

I didn’t choose the military. I wasn’t on the hunt for a single, military man. I really don’t like the long distance and the worry. I don’t want him to be deployed. I don’t want to move far away from my family and be alone a good majority of the time. I hate that one day I will have to explain to my kids why their dad can’t be at their sports tournament. I didn’t ask for any of that.

But I did choose him. And that’s where people start to lose understanding. ย I chose to be with someone who works hard and who treats me better than anyone. If I was going to live 1,000 miles from anyone, I wanted it to be him. And no one I have ever met was worth me leaving my little hometown until I met Taylor. And if my kids had any father, any man to look up to, I’d want it to be a man who works hard, loves his family and loves his country too. A man that is courageous in both heart and spirit.

I don’t want any sympathy. I didn’t want a military relationship so I could be the victim. I didn’t want this so I could go out and see other men but still have the security of a relationship.

When you love a person, and I mean truly love a person, you take the good with the bad. Being a military girlfriend wasn’t ideal for me but all the other good things far outweighed any anxieties I had.

I chose to love another with everything that I have…even if he chooses to wear a uniform.

 

 

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How to Budget Your Travels into Your Monthly Expenses

 

For two years now, Charleston has become my second home and it wasn’t too traumatic on my wallet most of the time. My airline tickets averaged around $300 and if I couldn’t do that I could drive.

The next stop on our military journey, however, is going to be Hawaii, a trip that will most definitely not be too kind on the old wallet. But I have recently put in place some tips and tricks that will get me, stress-free, to Hawaii and back… I might even be able to afford a nice dinner while I’m there.

The key to making all of this easier on you is to answer four questions:

How much will your trip cost?

The first step is knowing how much your trip will cost for the big stuff such as hotels, rental cars, gas, plane tickets, food, souvenirs, etc. Keep in mind that it is best to over guess prices than under guess. Also, keep in mind that many places, if you are married to the military, you can get discounts! You can make a rough calculation based on these prices…

Food: I know that, personally, I spend about $20 on each meal when I go on vacation. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it is less depending on where I am going and what meal it is. All in all, I give food about $60 per day. Take that and multiple it by how many days you are staying.

Plane tickets: A round-trip ticket to Hawaii is about $850 give or take. Look around on Google or there is a really helpful app called Hopper that will tell you pricing and pick a median price that sounds good to you.

Gas: If driving is your choice of transportation, find out how many miles it will be and find out what your car’s miles per gallon rate is. Divide the miles it will take to get there by the miles per gallon of your car. Then find the average gas prices in your area and multiply it by the numbers you just figured.

EX:) It used to take me 923 miles to drive to Charleston, SC. My little Honda Civic drives about 33 miles per gallon.

923/33= 27.97 gallons of gas to get to Charleston

I usually round up just to be safe so we’ll say about 30 gallons of gas. (I tend to get lost a lot.)

The gas prices around Chicago are about $2.20. So, 2.20×30=66. It will cost me about $66 in gas to get one way to Charleston.

Also, keep in mind that you will be driving around while you are there. Take that into account when finding out how much you will spend in gas.

Rental Cars: This one you should do a bit of research on. This all depends on the company, the type of car, the size of the car and how many days you will be renting it for. ย This will require a bit of your own research to figure out, however, USA Today wrote a good article to see what the averages are.

Hotels: Again, this will require some research on your part. Based on where you stay and how nice you’d like your hotel or motel to be, these prices can range greatly.

Ex:) Whenever I go to visit my boyfriend, I already have my transportation and sleeping accommodations taken care of so really that just leaves my plane ticket, food and souvenirs and money for the things we want to do.

Plane ticket: I averaged this out to $850.

Food: I will probably spend about a week in Hawaii so my food will come out to about $420.

Souvenirs/things to do: I gave myself a budget of about $75 a day for things I want to buy and things we want to do. This adds up to about $525.

 

All in all, my trip to Hawaii will cost me $1,795.

When are you planning to go?

Whew! You’ve now have the first and maybe hardest step done! Next comes planning when you’d like to go. Pick a month and calculate how many months that is from today.

Ex:) I would like to go to Hawaii at the beginning of September. That is about 3 months from now.

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How much money do you make a month?

Take your paychecks and add them together! If you are a bartender, waitress or anyone who has varying paychecks a month, figure out an average. About how much a day or a week do you normally bring home in tips.

Ex:) One of my paychecks a month is about $800 and the other one is about $900. I also freelance a little so I added in about an extra $50.

Turns out to be about $1,750.

After paying your bills, how much “fun” money do you have to spend?

I have a whiteboard next to my desk that lists out all of my bills that I have to pay, when they come out and have a space for me to check mark them when they have been paid. I know, I know, I’m a really big dork.

But it helps! Write out all your expenses, take what you make monthly and subtract them.

EX:) I make about $1,750 and lets say, for the sake of this post, that my bills come out to be $1,000 a month. That leaves me $750 to spend on whatever my little heart desires.

Put it all together!

Take how much your trip will cost and divide that by how much time you have between now and then. Take that number and look to see if you can feasibly afford to put away that much every month. If not, you may need to think about moving your trip a little farther back.

EX:) My trip is going to cost $1,795 and I have three months to save up.

$1,795/3= $598 per month that I need to save.

We already figured out that I have $750 to spend on what I would like every month. With that being said, if I put away about $600 a month toward my trip I would still have about $150 dollars to spend on going out with friends, new clothes, etc. which is fine for me.

 

Once you have figured out a good monthly budget for you, now it is time to start saving! Once a month, place that money into a savings account, under your bed, a piggy bank, and save up for that trip you’ve been dying to take.

Life is way too short to not travel. Don’t let your financial status stop you.

 

 

How I Became A Military Girlfriend

I was in a really shitty relationship. That’s how this story starts.

And when I say shitty, I mean really, really shitty. I met that guy through OK Cupid, a dating app, and it started out healthy. He was my age, worked for $10 an hour as a mechanic, had tan skin, dark hair and was covered head-to-toe in tattoos.

Our relationship was fine until I noticed he was getting snapchats from all these different girls. Then came the texts from other girls. He liked their half-naked Instagram photos too. He tried and tried to convince me I was absolutely crazy and told me that I was a bitch for accusing him of ever cheating.

I told my family and friends and made a million excuses for this boy. Then one night, I was venting to two of my friends, friends who have known me since I was maybe 3 feet tall, when one said, “Hey! I work with this kid that is the boy versionย of you. He even likes the same shitty music you do.”

Hm, a boy that listens to heavy metal? I had Austin, my friend, give me his name and I lounged across his bed scrolling through Facebook to look for this boy that likes metal music. Taylor. I thought it was a beautiful name.

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He looked normal enough to me and did like my kind of music but I wanted to stay loyal so I didn’t pursue it much.

ย A few weeks later, Austin invited me over to one of his work friend’s house to play games one night and I met Taylor. I thought he was cute but I didn’t really see myself with him. He was painfully blunt and didn’t seem to give me much thought. He talked a lot about how he was leaving for bootcamp in a few weeks and that sealed the deal for me. Taylor was a definite no go. I never could see myself dating a military man. I introduced myself to him, played some games and then said goodbye as I walked to my car and he smoked outside. The story was supposed to end there I thought…

A couple weeks later, my relationship got even worse. My tatted, cheating boyfriend decided to invite me to a concert after I got off of work. So, I closed up at my job as quickly as I could, ran to Target to buy a cute shirt and drove half an hour to this concert. I paid for parking and then texted him to ask where he was and how much to get in.

He replied that it was probably best if I went home because he was talking to a few other girls there. Bitch was maybe the nicest name that he called me that night.

Needless to say, I left him and after that I was kind of just wandering through life working my job and hanging out with family and friends.

Then one night I got a text from Taylor. He reiterated that he was leaving for bootcamp in a week and just wanted to go on one last date with a girl. Nothing serious. Just going out for drinks and that would be that. Maybe we could be friends and write some letters to each other at best.

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Revisiting our first date spot over a year later!

I picked Taylor up in my car (the deal was if he paid for dinner, I’d drive) and we went to Friday’s. We drank mudslides, ate cheeseburgers and I met my best friend.

He had the most lovable laugh. He was ridiculously smart, adventurous, he loves his family, hard working and oh my god his eyes. I was absolutely sold.

On the drive home, I knew deep in my heart what I wanted…but I had doubts. You see, I am a very cautious person. I don’t jump without knowing exactly what I am jumping into. I didn’t know what Navy life was like. Could I handle the distance? How was I so sure about a boy that I had officially hungout with once?

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I saw him twice after our date. Once at a going away party at the bar that he and my friend worked at and once more the morning he left for bootcamp. He ran up to doorstep, gave me the Navy shirt they gave him when he enlisted, kissed me and left.

And from that kiss on there was not a doubt in my mind. I wanted all of this. I was writing him letters daily. I was texting him daily. I met his family. I made him care packages.

I was going where this kid was going.

 

A Sailor’s Letter to His Girl Back Home

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“I need to tell you something. Before I get into it, I want you to know the reason I am telling you this. I want you to save this or screenshot this or whatever it takes to hold onto this for a couple different reasons.

When you have days where you need a little extra lovin’, I want you to look at this. When we are in the midst of a disagreement, I want you to look at this. When I am deployed and gone and you haven’t heard from me in days or weeks, I want you to look at this.

You, my dear, are the absolute greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Either there’s no scale of comparison or if I put you on a scale, nothing else comes close. You have been my rock, paper and scissors. When I needed someone to just bitch, moan and groan to, you have been there to listen. Whether it’s literally been just to hear and say nothing or to give advice, you’ve been there to lean on.

When I’ve felt broken or defeated, you’ve told me it’ll be okay and you’ve motivated me to push forward and you’ve held me together. When I’ve been wrong or been an asshole, you’ve been there to tear me apart (in a good sense) and make me grow as a man and mature and learn to admit when I am wrong.

I’m not going to lie, I think most people do this in relationships but I’ve searched for something about you that I don’t love and I haven’t found a thing. Not. One. Damn. Thing.

We have our disagreements, we have our fights, we have our near break ups but I wouldn’t trade it for the world and there is no other girl I’d rather struggle through life with than you.

I love that we don’t have everything in common. If we did, it’d be boring. We’d have nothing to introduce each other to.

I love your independence. I am more than willing to support you on anything you need but I love the fire inside you that drives you to support yourself.

I love your laugh. I remember the first time I heard it and fell in love with it. It was the first time you visited me in Charleston and that guy dropped his gas can on the expressway.

…You fit perfectly in my arms. I love your thighs. They are the perfect drumming pads when we’re jamming in the car. I love holding your hand and kissing your cheek in public. I want the world to know that I am the luckiest man alive to call you mine.

I love your dedication to me and my job. Your constant support and sacrifice is unwavering and I am undeserving yet everyday it’s there without hesitation.

I love your career progression. You are finding yourself and your purpose and fighting through all the obstacles that stand in your way.

I love that you are the strongest person in my life and in the world. You balance so many curveballs day in and day out but wake up every day ready to swing away.

I love that you are mine. I love that you are my definition of perfection and you are on my side. Through all the ups and downs, through the brutal fights from miles apart, I wouldn’t trade a second of it. I want to do everything there is to do, see everything there is to see in the world with you.

To summarize all of this in three words, I love you.”

Seven Ways to Help Alleviate the Fear of Being Cheated On

I hear all the stories. The ones where a sailor comes home and the house that once held his valuables, his life and his wife is now completely vacant. The girl who waited at home and kept the house and kids up and running for months at a time finds out her deployed husband cheated. I have even heard recently that women wait at ports to try and persuade military men into sleeping with them.

*Shudders*

Continue reading Seven Ways to Help Alleviate the Fear of Being Cheated On

Top Five Ways I Survived His Bootcamp

Bootcamp is definitely one of the top five hardest things you will do in a military relationship. It’s the first time you are apart with no contact. It is the first terrifying step, one of many that you will have to make, on this journey.

But don’t fret.

Many relationships make it through bootcamp. My relationship came back even stronger. You will learn lots of ways to cope with all your emotions during this time but I have a cheat sheet to get you started.

Continue reading Top Five Ways I Survived His Bootcamp