Deployment Stories

Understanding military family life

Deployment Stories: Understanding Military Family Life

Geobaching: On Second Thought

Bob was enlisted Navy and Janice was Army ROTC when they met. Back then they couldn’t imagine geo-baching. They saw all these military couples living apart and thought that was what old people did.

The first few years of marriage Bob was deployed about 50% of the time. They adopted two children and then had two daughters. The deployments were hard, but things got better when Bob went to college on the GI bill to become an officer. Things got tough again, when Bob was reassigned to surface ships beginning about 2003. Janice recalls one of the most difficult things was when Bob had time on his hands and would call to talk, but if she talked, no one had dinner or took a bath. She remembers one of the hardest things was working through how to stay connected to each other and still manage a house full of kids.

Recently, they faced the decision of whether Bob would stay in the military or leave. After being a stay-at-home mom, Janice has resumed her career and is now working full-time. With grandkids, one parent now in the area, and their youngest daughter a senior in high school, geo-baching made sense. She feels fortunate that they have been able to maintain a sense of tradition now that all four children will have graduated from the same high school.

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Although maintaining two households isn’t easy, she does feel that geo-baching is not nearly as hard as deployments once were. While there is some pressure to protect the scarce time together, it’s not as hard on a week-to-week basis as adjusting to lengthy deployments. Moreover, Janice is able to talk with Bob almost daily on her way home from work. She also feels that having been married for 25 years they have settled in and are acclimated to one another and there aren’t as many misunderstandings.

At the same time, while Bob is not deployed and carries his weight when he is home, Janice is still in charge of the day to day things. She realizes that while Bob may have free time after work, he misses out on the track meets and honors’ society inductions. In her words, he maintains contact with his youngest daughter serendipitously. And while she realizes that geo-baching is different for everyone, she feels that empathy and respect for your partner and what they are going through are keys.

 

Michelle L. Kelley, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at Old Dominion University. She has conducted research with military members and their families for 25 years.

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