In no relationship is it okay to sacrifice your mental health or career and education goals. Being in a military relationship forced me to have to fight harder to protect those goals. It forced me to make a plan for my life quickly, but that plan doesn't have to exclude my own ambitions.

I graduated from college while my fiancé was across the country graduating from "A" school. Then it was time to get serious. Pack up and move with him six hours away from home just a month after graduation, find a full-time job, and keep it together. I had to figure out what I wanted for my life, and fast, because I was about to be thrown into the adult world at warp speed.

So here I am, working full-time with an application to grad school currently under review. I make a healthy dinner for my tiny family every night, watch TV, go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again. I'm content, but I've never been the type to be content. I always want more for myself. He will be heading to his next station in February, one in which he will be gone for a few months every few months for the next three years. It averages to about six months per year that I will be by myself.

I've been scrambling to figure out what I am supposed to do. I'll be completely alone hundreds of miles from my family, which can be scary no matter how independent you are. I began trying to think of ways to make myself happy and keep myself busy. I used to exercise daily but stopped when the pain from my hip dysplasia became too much to handle. I'm making more money now, so I realized I can invest in the low-physical-impact but high-mental-impact exercise: yoga. I used to practice regularly, and I don't really know why I stopped.

cake, tea, pizza
Olivia D'Aiutolo

I bought in a shiny new Lululemon mat, began researching studios near work, and prepared to truly commit this time. This decision simultaneously made me want to commit to a healthier lifestyle all around; it's time to do something that's just for my benefit without worrying about anyone else. More activity and positive thoughts, less processed foods and negativity. I'm even going to go to Whole Foods regularly.

I've battled with my health in the past. I am in recovery from eating disorders that I struggled with my freshman and sophomore years of college. I have an anxiety disorder. I go to the orthopedist several times a month for my hips, and sometimes it's really scary—lots of needles and MRIs.

The thought of doing yoga and eating more cleanly makes me inexplicably happy and, by nourishing my mind and body, I feel as though I can handle whatever the next three years has to throw at me. I don't think I would have come to this conclusion had I not been forced to care about myself first because I will be by myself so often. 
stout, wine, beer
Olivia D'Aiutolo

Sometimes it's incredibly hard to deal with the military aspect of the relationship. You might have to deal with long distance if something you want is in one place, but the military puts your love in another place. There are last-minute decisions made without any consideration of your lives that can change all of your plans. But it's still worth it not to give up everything you want for your future, regardless of whether or not it's easier to just follow along.

The demands of his career sometimes make me feel like my wants and needs don't matter, and that can feel very lonely; you're constantly trying to hold on to your identity and fulfill your own needs. When all you're doing is worrying about work, money, your significant other, doctors' appointments, climate change, and everything else in the world, it's vital to find a second in there to worry about yourself. It's not selfish. It's essential. And it does amazing things for your psyche.

wine, tea
Olivia D'Aiutolo

He promised he'd never ask me to give up my education and career goals for him and his career. This relationship is going to be give-and-take, not just give from my end, as is sometimes expected when the military controls one half of the partnership. I chose to follow him a few states away, but I didn't choose to lose myself in the process. I knew what I was getting into when I fell for someone in the military, but I also know that it's possible to make this kind of relationship work while still achieving everything I want. He's happy, and I'm happy. Balance and compromise.