Tough Choices: Geo-Bachelor or Another Move?

Tough Choices: Geo-Bachelor or Another Move?Since I became a military spouse more than 16 years ago, my family and I have moved eight times for the good of the Navy. Some moves have been greeted with excitement and others with tears, but each time the Navy has asked us, we have packed our bags, said goodbye to our friends, and traveled obediently to the next duty station.

There’s no denying that it has been a great adventure. While our military life has not been as exotic as some others, we have lived in many interesting places. Our kids have explored Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, visited Disney World and the White House, and enjoyed beaches from Rhode Island to Florida. I recognize that in many ways the military has been good to us.

Still, there have been sacrifices. Sacrifices like the challenges that military families face each and every day. My kids have cried at leaving dear friends and struggled to adjust to new schools. I have given up jobs and worked to find a place in a new community.

It’s true, some things do get easier with each move. I’ve discovered a foolproof way to tape up the hardware for our bookshelves so they don’t get lost, for example. But some things never get easier. And a few things that seemed easy the first move got a lot harder the seventh and eighth time.

So, when my husband told me that he would be receiving orders to another ship, in another town, we decided not to follow him. This time, he will go on to the new duty station on his own while the kids and I stay behind. He’ll be what we in the military know as a geo-bachelor. This was not a decision we reached lightly. We talked about it for hours, over the course of many days, and I still lie awake at night wondering if it’s the right thing to do. It will be hard on us as a family. It will be hard on him as he makes the drive home every weekend. And hard on me as I juggle my job with being both Mom and Dad to two teenagers.

But the more we thought about it, the clearer it became that it is the right thing for us, right now. The kids are in high school, tightly woven into a network of friends, neighbors, teammates, and classmates. We have a house that we probably paid too much for and can’t afford to sell. And I finally – finally – have a job where I can find professional satisfaction. All of that seems like a lot to give up, even for the good of the Navy.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this decision. I have received a few skeptical looks from family and friends when I told them about our plans. Even the Defense Travel Office says that “a fundamental philosophy of military service is that members, with their families, create a better work environment and esprit de corps when they can be active participants in the local base and community.”

I understand the military’s philosophy. In fact, I agree with it. In a perfect world, it would be better if my family could all be together. But we don’t live in a perfect world and family life is complicated. Right now, the best decision for our family seems to be to live apart. That hasn’t been true in the past and it might not be true in the future. Certainly every family is different. What works for one family might be a disaster for another. We can only hope for the best and trust that the strength, resilience, commitment, and love that have gotten us through eight moves can get us through one “not-move.”

What do you think? Have you ever lived apart from your service member? What made you decide to stay behind? 

eileenPosted by Eileen Huck, Government Relations Deputy Director at the National Military Family Association


Add yours
  1. 1
    Patrice Johnson

    I know the feeling. We went back and forth prior to moving to our current duty station. We comtemplated every possible scenario. But, ultimately decided to follow him. However there are quite a few of Geo- bachelors here in the Artic. Judging by this weather, I am not surprised. Good luck!!!

  2. 2

    We’ve been geo-bachelor for 3 years, and it’s over in 7 weeks. It’s been the hardest, most miserable way to live. Our kids benefit, because of family and a good environment, but our family structure in general suffered terrible. We have 7 years left of this life, and from here on out – we go wherever he goes. Period.

  3. 3

    Sometimes it’s not the kids that force the decision of a geographical separation. Shortened school assignments, the inability to sell a house and the lack of jobs at a new duty station really hurt too. The collapse of the economy and some pretty unrealistic job situations have forced me to remain behind for 7 years while he commutes home every 2-3 weeks (if I’m lucky). It really hurts, but one day we’ll be able to live together again. Just hope we remember how to cohabitate once he does move back in!

  4. 4
    Lesa Osilla

    We are a family, and choose to stay together at all cost. We have a daughter and it taught her to be more social and experience new cultures and people. It was a wonderful 24 years.

  5. 5
    sarah Nakintu

    Please its so hurting to leave in a distant place with your loved one. some times we need to sacrifice what we love most and stay together for the good of our families.Please rent tha house such that you can get money. we are not used to staying apart it will cause psychological, and psycho-social problems
    to all the members of the family and other financial extra expenses the God who gave you that Job ( mum) will provide a better one in the new place
    Please Go with Him

  6. 6
    Katelyn Yanes

    My husband is PCS to Okinawa Japan, and I am unable to go with at the current time because of being too far in a pregnancy as well as having one semester left of nursing school. Plus, the last 2 years my husband has been at Pendleton, Quantico, and Camp Lejune. Our daughter and I have not been able to join him because of pursuing my Nursing degree as well as him being in TBS and now Supply school there really isn’t a place for us to go while he is only there for short periods of time. Now, we have to keep waiting until December for my daughter, myself, and our new son to move to Okinawa Japan. Putting us at 3 years away from eachother. It’s definitely been the hardest most emotional time, but as long as you love and work at it, it will work. It’s a hard decision to not go with them but, ultimately what is best for your family is YOUR decision and I’m sure you’ve looked into every way you can to go, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
    GOOD LUCK!!!!

  7. 7
    Geo-Bachelorhood: Six months later | Branching Out

    […] This time, however, we paused. We worried about the effect of moving the kids now that they are in middle and high school. We wondered if we would be able to sell our house or find a renter. And I asked myself if my career would ever recover if I had to give up yet another job. So after a lot of discussion and a lot of soul-searching, we decided that – for now at least – the kids and I would stay behind and my husband would become a geo-bachelor. […]

  8. 8
    Alexandra Chandler

    My husband and i are trying to look into the geographical bachelor program. I am pregnant again, and need the help of my family. I currently have a 4 month old. I have a job opportunity and school opportunity back with my family. Does anyone know of how we could start the process? Does anyone know any information on it for the Navy? Please email me, if any of you know!!!

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