Do You Want a Wedding or a Marriage?

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I recently graduated from college, and my boyfriend decided to join the Army. I absolutely love him and love the idea of getting married someday, but honestly, if he had not signed up for the military, we wouldn't be getting married this soon.

I have a lot of emotional issues -- one of them is abandonment from my father leaving. I rely on my boyfriend a lot, and he is always there to help me.

We are both not sure about getting married yet. At the same time, I do not know what I would do if something happened to him. He means everything to me, and I am supporting his decision to join in any way possible.

About every day, we go back and forth about whether we should get married so I can live with him throughout his career or whether I should stay here with support from my family and friends, which is just being a supportive Army girlfriend. I am just so worried that I will make the wrong decision.

-- Nicole

Dear Nicole,

I give you credit for recognizing that there is a difference between a wedding and a marriage. I'm happy to hear that you want a marriage. Yet all your questions lead me to suggest that you wait and not rush into anything.

Your boyfriend will be in transition over the next year. He will be sent to trainings and different schools until he is finally at his permanent duty station. It can add to the stress if you are trying to move to be with him when he does not have a permanent duty station.

Couples do get married before they start military careers. Many people also join the armed forces after they have been married for years with children.

I like the way you are using insight into your own personality and past as you recognize this may be especially difficult for you because you still have memories of abandonment by your father. For this reason, you may be more dependent on your boyfriend for validation such as "I am important" or "I am lovable."

This is normal, but it also is an indication that you should consider speaking to a therapist to work through those feelings.

There is no right or wrong answer about whether you and your boyfriend should marry but you must know that, as a military spouse, there is a great likelihood that you will spend a lot of time alone. You will have to get comfortable depending on yourself, not on your soldier.

If you do decide to marry in the future, now is a good time to start building a strong support system of family, friends and spiritual support to help you through.

Congratulations on your recent graduation, and give your boyfriend my best regards for choosing to serve his country. There are many resources you will find on that will help you through this journey. Continue to stay in touch.

-- Ms. Vicki

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