Relationships in NS


b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_9325.JPGNational Service can be a harrowing time for those in relationships. The long hard days outfield for the guys, or the sight of loving couples snuggling in public for the ladies may stir up some uncomfortable feelings. But cheer up, because here are some couples who actually made it through, and they’ve got somethings to say to help you along. 


1. Understand What You’re Getting Into



“My boyfriend entered the army straight after A levels, we had just started going out at that point and we decided to continue the relationship through his service. 

Back then, neither of us knew what it was going to be like. We heard different things from different people, that army would take away all his time and it would be hard. We also had friends telling us it’s not that bad – he would still be able to call every now and then.

When he went in I realised that it was true that our time was severely compromised, and we saw very little of each other. We started having more serious conversations and they were all really gloomy, about how much time he was wasting and how much he wished to be out of army. 

After some time we decided that we would just accept things for the way they were instead of wishing things would change. From that point on we focused more on the time we had instead of thinking about the times we could or might have while keeping a positive attitude. 

2 years later, we’re still together and his period in the service brought us closer together through mutual understanding.”

Advice for her:

There are going to be many lonely nights. He’s not going to have as much time for you, and you’re lucky if you hear from him every night. You’re going to have to accept these facts and be ok with it. Make no mistake, winter is coming. 

Advice for him:

You’re going to be exhausted, have your personal time taken away, and you’re going to see a lot less of your girlfriend. There will be other guys hitting on her, and she’s likely going to be frustrated and upset a lot when you do talk because of how much she misses you.

Be prepared, it will be hard. A single text every night when possible, even if it’s to tell her how tired you are can keep that flame alive. 


2. Be Flexible 



“I was posted to a Guards unit during my NS, it proved to be a harrowing time for our relationship. Most of my weekdays were spent out in the field or preparing for the next one. It left me very little time and energy to talk to my girlfriend.

She got really worried at first, time passed and we grew more and more distant, and our relationship stalled. I didn’t want to spend the weekend hopping around cafes with her because I was too tired, and we grew bored.

She assigned me the task of planning our next weekend adventure, but I was issued extra duties because of a mishap outfield. The plans completely slipped my mind and we ended up quarreling. 

About a week later we started talking again and I explained to her the nature of my vocation. It took awhile, but we slowly turned things around. She became more understanding and we went out closer to my place to accommodate my time. My buddies also helped me with some duties so I could spend more time talking to her.”

Advice for her:

It would be much better for you to set up the date and do the planning, especially if you want to do something exciting and out of the norm. Depending on his vocation, he may not have the time to plan something elaborate. Relationships are a two-way street, and it would be nice if you handled this, particularly so if he’s not having such a fun time in NS.

Advice for him:

Take things as they come – getting extra duties and confinements are part of the game. You’ll have to turn down some plans and grumble to your buddy. There’s nothing much you can do about it so just chill! Just keep calm and soldier on – she’ll be waiting next weekend.

And when you get the time, don’t forget to make her happy. Plan something nice if you know she treasures anniversaries. If you really can’t, spare 5 minutes before you sleep to give her a call. Hearing your voice could make her day.


3. Get Busy 



“While my boyfriend was in the army I didn’t have much to do aside from waiting for the university term to begin. We spoke to each other constantly but the relationship still felt very stagnant. Our conversations became mundane as he’d tell me about his duties and I’d tell him about the current TV show I was watching and things didn’t progress. 

After a while both of us ran out of things to say. We started talking less and I knew something had to change. I realised that the reason why we were spreading apart was because we lost interest in each other’s lives. 

I started to pick up more hobbies and keep my mind off him. I started things I’ve always wanted to do like dance classes and baking. I didn’t call him as much, but it didn’t matter anymore. Because every time I did, I was happy and proud of what I accomplished and I got to share that with him.”

Advice for her: 

Get involved with something! You’ve got some free time, so instead of spending that time feeling sorry for your relationship, pick up a new hobby. Start on that book you wanted to write, or research some ideas for your blogshop. Do something fulfilling so you won’t be dependent on your partner to be happy. 

Advice for him:

No, I don’t mean you should volunteer for more guard duty, but do something in camp that can engage your brain a little more. Read a book, learn to play a guitar from your buddy, use your admin time to add value into your life so you can share these gifts with her. Learn to be dependent on something else for happiness other than your partner, you’ll both be much better off.


4. Communicate & Trust



“When my girlfriend and I first got together, I felt like the luckiest guy alive. She was really pretty and there were a ton of guys trying to woo her. When I entered the army I was afraid I was going to lose her. I’d try to call her every night, but she was busy with work and her studies so we rarely got to talk. 

She was in a PR agency and part of her work was mingling with other people. I started seeing many pictures of her with other guys and I felt really cheated. Whenever we talked I’d try to convince her to find a better job and to stay away from bars and clubs, but we would always end up arguing over it.

After a particularly heated argument we decided to take some time off. I thought about things and realised I didn’t have the right to dictate where she could or couldn’t go. I was projecting my insecurities on her, and it was making the both of us suffer. She had always been there for me and I didn’t really have a reason to believe she would treat me that way at all.

A week passed and we got back together. I was more understanding this time, and she invited me out with her friends during the weekends so I could know them better and understand they weren’t a threat to our relationship.”

Advice for her:

Be direct with what you want. Most men can’t process subtlety. If your boyfriend is restricting you to go wherever, he’s might be a little insecure. You can reassure him by checking in with him a couple of times when you go out. 

I’d advise sitting down with him to find out what he finds acceptable, and find a way to compromise from there. If this sounds too harsh for you, I hate to break it to you, but you guys probably aren’t meant for each other right now.

Advice for him:

Take a chill pill. Honestly, you gotta let go of what you love, not lock it down like you’re her dad. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve wanted to hang with my female friends and they tell me “I can’t go because he won’t let me.” That’s crazy! 

There’s absolutely no reason to impose restrictions on her like this because they are based on your own insecurity. Realise that you’re enough – she chose you. The more you try to lock her down, the more liberated and fun she’ll be when she meets that cute guy at the bar who doesn’t suck out all the fun from her life. 


5. Stop Comparing Yourselves to Other Couples



“When my boyfriend first got his vocation, I was relived. He was a clerk in an office and he didn’t need to do much work, or so I thought. I expected him to call every night or basically have our own lives as usual since he booked out everyday. Instead, he hardly replied my messages and he was always so tired and quiet when we went out and totally looked like he didn’t want to be there. 

I started talking to my girlfriends and looking at pictures of them on facebook, they were doing fine with their partners some of which were in NS. I found it really strange that they still had time to go out with their boyfriends and looked so happy especially since all of them were in the more traditionally extraneous vocations. 

I brought it up with him and he got really angry and upset, he said that his job wasn’t as simple as I thought it was and it came with a lot of stress and responsibilities as well. I believed him, but everytime I see a couple I would feel lonely. So I decided to just stop looking entirely which helped my accept the current situation and be there for him a lot more.”

For both:

You don’t have to delete your Facebook account, but if it’s becoming a problem, you might want to consider abstaining for a while. The problem here is not being in the moment and living your own story. We all have different struggles and personalities, trying to live another couple’s life isn’t the answer. 

Your unique challenges help to form your own story so commit to them and have your own experience, not one modelled out of something you saw on Facebook or heard from a friend. 

You should also both feel like you’re ready to go out with each other. If either party is too tired, there’s no point forcing it. Just postpone your date, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re alone in a relationship. 


6. Do Stuff for Each Other



“We were known as the Romeo and Juliet couple to all our friends. We loved each other, and we were never afraid to show it. So when he entered the army I was absolutely torn. I only got to see him on the weekends and that wasn’t enough for me. The calls were short and just made me miss him.

He felt really guilty after a while and came up with this brilliant idea to keep me entertained. He would write letters in camp and put it in a box, one for each day we were apart. It was like having a conversation every night and it was incredibly romantic. I replied all the letters and when we met up we exchanged boxes. “

For Both: 

You don’t have to be dramatic, but a little sweetness in a relationship goes a long way. It’s all about keeping the romance alive. Discovering new things about each other, and growing together will help you guys stay madly in love. 

Think of things that you can do together when you aren’t together, like reading the same book and discussing it when you both have time. Or making mix tapes from genres you normally don’t listen to. 


7. S**t Happens 


“Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. My Girlfriend and I started out great but NS brought us apart. We couldn’t deal with the distance, and I was insecure as well, always thinking that she was out with other guys. 

She was independent, and after so many arguments I couldn’t tie her down and I had to let go. Looking back, it wasn’t very mature of me to do what I did. I wasn’t ready for something like that, and she wasn’t equipped to deal with someone of my clingy tendencies.

At the end of the day though, I felt like the relationship made me a better man even though it failed, I learned a lot about my own emotions and limitations, and when I meet others girls in the future, I will have a better understanding of what I really want.”

For Both:

Whatever will be, will be. Don’t sweat it! It will be hard when something like this happens, especially to long term couples, but keep things in perspective. Realise how much you’ve grown from your journey together. 

It’s tempting to just stay in a state of self-pity but you’re older and wiser now, and the sea is full of fish to be hooked. As for the guys, you’ll always have your rifle and your buddy!



At the End of the Day


Well I won’t sugar coat it for you, it’s not easy maintaining a relationship during NS. It will test what you guys are made of and there will be bad days. But there will be good days too, days where you come together after  a long and difficult time apart, days where you will be there for each other,and most of all days where you will realise how much you love and cherish each other. So keep the faith, and carry on, it’s only 24 months! 

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