As Kelly’s time as an active duty Marine comes to a close in the next few months, we’ve had to do a lot of transitioning. Considering that he has only been in for one enlistment, you might not think there would be a lot of adjusting to do. And you would be totally incorrect.
Kelly and I have known each other for around 4 1/2 years. During that entire time (and the duration of our friendship & relationship), he has been serving our country as a United States Marine. I have never known any Kelly other than Marine Corps Kelly. I never knew a lifestyle of seeing him every day at school, or going on dates every weekend. I knew Skype and lots of emails and long, lonely flights to see him for a whirlwind weekend before I had to be back for school. Kelly hasn’t had to worry about getting a big-kid job before. He went into boot camp fresh out of high school. He’s worn basically nothing but cammies for like five years. The thought of a suit and tie gives him some major anxiety.
The Marine Corps has been the center stone of our relationship, more or less. It determined how often we were able to see each other, where we could go, and what kind of lifestyle we have been able to live. It has brought us a lot of wonderful life lessons and, more often than not, a lot of crappy situations that we are glad we will not be faced with in his future as a civilian. Being a military girlfriend, fiancee, and spouse has given me so much that I would not have otherwise. I am so independent. While Kelly being gone is no longer the norm, I am perfectly functional as a one-woman-act. I prefer it otherwise, absolutely. But a few weeks ago when we thought Kelly was going to be moving to Florida for six months to train, I was ready to face it head on. Would it suck? YES. Would I power through? DUH. I’m a go-getter now. I still love to procrastinate but I have learned that when you’re living the military lifestyle if you want something done, you’d better do it yourself and you’d better do it now, because tomorrow the opportunity might not be there. The USMC taught us how to fight, and how to make up. It taught us how to be horrible to each other, and how to love each other bigger and stronger and better than any other couple ever has before. It taught us how to hold our ground, and how to compromise.
The Marine Corps has made our start into life together such a beautiful struggle. Our first two and a half years together were full of trials that broke us (ok, maybe just me) down to our very cores. I can’t tell you if I’m thankful for that or not, truthfully. Lots of long nights arguing and breaking up and making up and arguing again because when you’re 1,200 miles away, no apology is ever real enough or good enough. But those years were also full of a lot of celebrations. Every moment spent together was priceless. Spending a holiday together was a miracle. We learned to appreciate time together, even if we just sat in his barracks room and watched TV. It was better than a Netflix Skype date. The Marines meant that if I wanted to be with Kel, I needed to move halfway across the country and leave behind a whole lot of friends and family that I miss every moment of every day.
And, on the other hand, the USMC has given us the best start into life together possible. Thanks to a very steady career and source of income, we have been able to set ourselves up for an amazing life together. We are currently completely debt-free. Both of us. We own both of our cars, all of our furniture, and we have one credit card that we pay off monthly (which I grudgingly obtained this month because I’m 23 and apparently that means I should be building my credit or something). My income is frivolous. We spend it on stuff we want because we already have the things we need at our disposal, thanks to generous housing and food stipends that the military offers Kelly every month. We’re paying almost three grand to buy out our lease and move into a new house just because we love it so much. Not a lot of 23 year old couples can do that, and we are beyond appreciative for that. The military has also given Kelly experience in his career field that is essential to him obtaining a career as a civilian. He has qualifications that he couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, and those will be crucial to him getting a great job out here (fingers crossed, y’all!).
It’s not that transitioning out of the military life and into civilian life is difficult because Kel is a lifer and hasn’t ever done anything else. It’s difficult because as a unit, it’s all we’ve known. But moving on is just the next step in our great big adventure. We’ll take it one step at a time, and that’s how we’ll make it.