Sooner or later, it’ll be time for that big decision: whether your spouse should re-enlist. Should they serve a bit longer, or transition back to the civilian sector? Although it can be an easy choice for some, it can be quite difficult for others. It’s not always the right decision, and if you’re not on the same page as your spouse, it’s a recipe for someone sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future.
Our advice is the age-old classic: make a pro’s and con’s list. To get you started, here are the things you should think about before your spouse re-enlists:
Deployments are one of the biggest parts of being in the military and how often they deploy, how long they’ll be away, and how long in between are all factors to consider. Multiple deployments in a short amount of time takes a toll on the whole family, and they could be missing out on precious years.
Consult Those Who Came Before You
Pay-it-Forward communities are a great place to consult fellow military families about what they considered when discussing reenlisting. Everyone’s situation is different, but it’s helpful to hear what others considered in making their choice to stay in or get out. You can find a list of base specific support groups HERE.
Do You Still Like It?
Do they still enjoy serving or do they dread every day in the morning? Are they sick of the lifestyle or are they still thriving on the excitement? What about you as the spouse? Are you up for another deployment or have you had it? Are you feeling any hostility or resentment when your spouse is away? Be honest with yourself, and each other.
What Other Career Could They Have?
If your spouse gets out of the military, what else could they do? You should have a plan, and a plan “b”, and probably “c,” too. What will they do for a career instead? Do you have savings? Will you have to change jobs? Where will you live? If you are going to ETS successfully, you need to have a strategy.
Age Isn’t Always Just a Number
Are they still a spring chicken or starting to become more like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon? Age can be a factor when it comes to getting out of the military, so if those knees are cracking and back is aching, it may be time to consider calling it quits.
Think of the Children!
Do you have any little ones running around? Do you want some? Whether you already have children or are thinking about expanding your family, consider the impact deployment has on a child. One parent missing all the time can have psychological effects on children, and parenting solo is no easy task either. Plus, kids grow up pretty fast, if you don’t stop (enlisting) and look around (at them) once in a while, you could miss it.
Do a Mental Health Check
Talk to each other about how you’re really feeling. Are deployments taking a toll on you, your spouse, or each other? If you’re having any bad thoughts at all, let them out, because one way or another, they may present themselves when it’s already too late.