After serving in the military for a few years, your spouse will have to decide if they are going to re-enlist to serve a bit longer, or transition back to the civilian sector. This can be such a difficult choice for some, and an easier choice for others. Some couples are on the same page, and others have hesitations about what the future holds. There is no cookie cutter way to approach this decision. The reasons for or against a military re-enlistment are personal to each family’s needs, but there are some general starting points that can help you make a decision.
Here are seven things to think about before your spouse re-enlists in the military:
Thinking about time away
One of the biggest parts of serving in the military are the deployments. How often someone deploys, how long they have to go away for, and how long in between can all be factors in deciding to re-enlist. Too many deployments in a short amount of time can take a toll on the whole family, and because of that, it could be time to figure out something else do as a career.
How much do they enjoy the military?
How much does your spouse enjoy serving in the military? Do they hate going to work each day? Do they enjoy the whole lifestyle? These are questions that are important to ask your service member. If they hate being in the military, for whatever reason, it could be time to walk away. If the spouse hates the military life, that could be reason enough to discuss re-enlisting and if it is the right direction for the family to continue to go in.
What are the other options?
If your spouse is going to get out of the military, you will need to have a plan. What will they do for a career instead? Do you have savings? Will you have to get a different job? Where will you live? There are a ton of details to work out when you ETS from the military. If you are going to do so successfully, you will need a good plan, and probably a back up one.
Age is a factor
Age can also be a factor when it comes to getting out of the military. A young 22-year-old will have a different perspective than a 35-year-old. Someone who has just one enlistment under their belt will be looking at their future differently than someone who has been in for 11 years. While you are never too old to start over, your spouse’s age might be the determining factor for if they stay in the military or not.
What about your children?
Do you have children? Do you want children? If you don’t have children yet and don’t want to bring any future children into a military lifestyle, getting out before you start your family can be the best plan. If you already have kids, your service member might not want to be away from them any longer and will want to make a choice to leave the military. As the military spouse, you will be the one solo parenting, and that can be quite stressful over the years. Kids can be the decision maker on if your spouse will re-enlist or not.
Talk about mental health
The mental health of the service member and the spouse is important. Living the military lifestyle isn’t easy and mental health issues can complicate it even more. While there are resources to help you and your spouse, that might not be enough. Moving back home, being close to family, and being away from the military might be the only thing that can help.
Is it the location or MOS?
If your service member wants to get out, think about if it is the military in general that they have an issue with or if it is because of your duty station or MOS. Often, lat moves to another MOS can make things better, or a change of scenery that comes with PCSing. While you can’t always pick where you will go, if you are in the military for a while you will see that some places can be better than others. Before getting out of the military, think long and hard about what could change to make the entire experience better for you and your spouse.
Whether your spouse re-enlists or not is a huge decision. What is right for one person might not be right for another. Spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what would be best for your service member and your future.
Read more on some of the reasons that these military spouses supporting their service member staying in at: Should I Stay (In) or Should I Go?Read comments