6 Things I Learned Being a Geo-Bachelor Military Family

I live 1,200 miles away from my husband, Kevin.

Some may call us a geo-bachelor family, but I like to think of us as ‘closer than a deployment, farther away than a couch snuggle.’ Our adventure in this lifestyle began in July 2014, when orders landed him in beautiful sunny California. Career timing was just not right for me to move along with him, and our daughter was starting middle school, so our family decided it was best for Kevin to go alone.

The decision for families to separate by distance, not by love, is one I’ve found many families make, often when the military members gets up in rank, or years. It’s harder for the kids to keep moving schools, or for the spouse to take another hit to their career when the husband only has a few years left. With so many of us encountering this situation, there is so much we don’t realize until we are entrenched.

Here are a few realities I’ve learned in the 10 long months we’ve been apart:

My husband is not a bachelor.
Sure, he’s living in a house with a roommate, but this is not a frat house. Girls are not hanging all over him, there are no keggers, and pizza is not a food group. Ok, pizza might be a food group. Otherwise, he leads a pretty boring life. When I call, chances are he’s playing board games with said roommate, napping, or watching TV. He still is married and devoted to me.

I can’t always be there, and neither can he.
I recently got a text message from my husband. “Honey, I love you. It’s been great knowing you, and I couldn’t imagine my life without you.” My heart sank. Sent just before he went into surgery, this would be the last message I’d receive if he never woke up. I was in the middle of a phone call with a client, and tears began to stream down my face. I couldn’t be there for him at a time when I really should have been.

He can’t be there for us, either. Kevin gets phone calls when we are on our way to the ER with a possible broken foot (again), and I’m sure he wishes he could be sitting with us, waiting for the x-rays, instead of stuck in his room 1,200 miles away. Other, less severe moments happen without him, too; he’s missed first school dances, first crushes, and first crushed hearts.

Communication is hard. Like really, really hard.
Communication is hard when you don’t have body language to back up what you’re saying. Arguments break out over internet connection problems. Relying on cell phones and Skype to have an emotional relationship is also trying, but we’re working through it. Slamming an “off” button on a cell phone is a lot less satisfying than a door, though it’s a lot more childish. We’re working through all of this and realizing that it’s just hard for both of us when we can’t reach out and hold each other’s hand.

When he visits, it’s not the same.
Kevin has his house, and I have mine. Except my house used to be where he lived, too. This makes visits seem a little awkward. Something might be out of place, or moved, or new, and all this ‘change’ makes things stressful on both of us. It isn’t how he left it, and that change reminds him of the distance between us. The reality is we each have a house that is our own to keep how we like it, and we shouldn’t judge the other person for living their lives without the other. But deep down inside, my house is his “home.” I have to learn to be sensitive to that fact.

I have it easier.
I stayed, surrounded by family and friends, in the comfort of our family home. My husband packed up 1 room, and moved 1200 miles away, knowing not a single soul. He’s met a few people, but I have it easier than he does. At the end of a long day, I have someone to come home to, who can listen to my day, give me a hug, and tell me it’s going to be okay. My husband has a roommate. Hugging would make things uncomfortable between the two of them, I think.

We are closer than we have ever been.
Despite the distance and separation, we are closer and more in love than we ever have been. Call it necessity, call it survival, or call it love; being a geo-bachelor family is trying. So are deployments, and TDYs, and frankly everyday life. We knew making this big decision could, quite possibly, push us apart, but it was not a death sentence on our marriage. Instead, we have grown closer. We now set aside time in our busy lives for each other. We are even more dedicated to each other than we ever have been in our past 12 years of marriage.

It was a difficult decision to divide our family, and choose to stay put, for the sake of our daughter’s education, and my career. Many people questioned our decision saying things like, “Why wouldn’t a wife want to be with her husband?” but we looked at the long-term path in our marriage and knew we had some serious relationship Super Glue that was going to hold us together. And we have held together, better than expected (not perfect, but better).

In case you were wondering, Kevin came out of surgery just fine and told me that message was supposed to be a joke. We’re still working on our communication through text message skills. Ugh.

Have you ever been a geo-bachelor family? What tips do you have?

kim-robertsonPosted by Kimberly Robertson, military spouse and blogger at 1200 Miles Away


Add yours
  1. 1
    K. Brant

    Yes. I think each family has to take a hard (realistic) look at the pro’s and con’s to military geo-bachelor life for their particular circumstances. What is right for one family might be a disaster for another family. You should probably take out pen and paper to make a list of each pro and con, do some research on what the circumstances would be if you all moved…housing, schools, climate, distance… and of course, pray for divine guidance. This was our process when we were faced with the decision. We chose the Geo-Bach route for a year and it worked out very well. So glad we did it. Bonus…used the time and money we saved by not doing two HHG moves to take a family bonding cruise to Alaska!

  2. 2

    My husband and I have decided that I will stay here later this year when he joins active duty. Circumstances involving our daughter and my career are major factors, very similar to your situation. I have so many questions! I am just googling things for the most part and it is somewhat helpful, but I wish I had someone to talk to about it who has actually walked the walk. If you or anyone reading this comment would like to help me out and answer a few questions, I would greatly appreciate it 🙂

  3. 3
    Christina Whitney

    Trista, we are into our first week of our geo bachelor adventure. We have been stressing about this decision so much over the last few months but we decided to give it a go. My husband is retiring in two years and we have kids that will be going into high school and I feel sick about moving them again. I also finally have a job that I love and a house that I could spend the rest of my life in. Anyhow, I too wonder if we are making the right decision. I already miss my husband so much and I worry about how he can handle this for two years. Anyhow, if you need any advice, I’d love to help you if I can. We have done the geo bachelor thing before, 6-9 months here and there, but never for two long years!

  4. 4
    Erin M

    We are entering the same thing. The same decisions, of being so close to retirement and what really has to be given up in order to stay together. The housing down side to move cross country, the kids starting high school, the crime rate, and a career I am happy with and to know that is not where we want to ultimately live after retirement is what made us decide to go apart for this rotation. I am willing to help answer questions if you have some Trista, I may not have the right answer but I do have some experience. Never an easy decision but you had kids together and sometimes they have to come first because you only legally have to raise them till 18 yrs old then you have no say. So making hard decision just became easier. BTW, Ours is 2200 miles apart.

  5. 5
    Ally Castro

    I will be having my first geo-bachelor experience coming up this November, my husband will be going to Hawaii for TWO years and ill be staying behind with our 3 children while finishing school. It’s a lot to stress about so i’m just looking for advice from people have been in the same situation before. How do you do it?

  6. 6

    I’m having my first geo-bachelor experience now. It’s a day to day process. My eldest son has autism spectrum, and moving him is more complicated than most especially since he is progressing where he is. Also, the kids have social activities, friends, and a home they enjoy and feel comfortable in. For 2 year orders, it just didn’t make sense to move them with me.

  7. 7

    I’m having my first geo-bachelor experience now. It’s a day to day process. My eldest son is autistic, and moving him is complicated especially since he is thriving and progressing. Also, my other two kids have activities, friends, and a home they enjoy and feel good about. It just didn’t make sense to move them with me for 2 year orders. I’m not alone. There are other people in my command doing the same thing, which I actually found surprising when I came on board. It is a small comfort though. You get some relief with facetime and frequent phone calls, but it’s not the same. I’m working hard to stay encouraged, so the kids and my wife don’t get down. I try to go home at least once a month, which I look forward to.

  8. 8
    Mike Livewith

    Mu wife and I are on our 3rd GeoBach tour and our marriage is in the dumps. Less than 6 months to go and she is not looking forward to me coming home. Our 20th anniversary is days after my return. Honestly it doesn’t feel like home. We argue on the phone over everything and nothing. We just grew apart. It feels like she despises me. I have never cheated on her and never will but am not sure she never did. She told me to lower my expectations and not expect to come home as if these last 2 years were just a weekend apart. Not sure what to make of this, but it tells me very clearly I’m not welcome. Life is a B. A lot of wasted Life if in the end we wind up going our separate ways. I blame the separation, but realize there is much more to it. I lost myself and maybe lost her because of that.

  9. 10

    It is fascinating that the assumption that all Geo bachelors are males. As a female, going on my second year of being away from my children words can’t begin to even describe the daily doubt I experience. It isn’t only men who serve, nor is it only husband’s who make this choice for their families. As a mother and wife, the decision was made to ensure they had some stability and my husband could continue his job. Please know this is hard for everyone who serves.

    • 11
      Shannon Prentice

      Thanks for bringing this up, Erin. You’re absolutely right. It IS hard for everyone. Thank you for serving and sacrificing through the tough decisions.

  10. 12

    We are going through the hard decision making right now if we should move from Jacksonville, Fl to Lemoore, Ca as a family or if my husband should go alone and Geo Bach for 3 years. He will be on sea duty so it makes me a little nervous to move with my two year old and 11 year old sons. We have a house in a very safe, best schools, everyone there for one another type neighborhoods and I don’t know a single person in CA. Of course we would like to keep the family together but on the other hand I hate the fact of up rooting my son out of this area that he loves so much. Any advise would be appreciated 🙂 TIA!

  11. 13

    Hi everyone. Its amazing that the feelings that I am having that I am not alone. We are a Navy family and my stomach has literally been in knots for a few weeks now. My husband will be going back on Sea Duty and he is coming up on orders soon. We find out after Thanksgiving actually if he will get picked up to go to Bahrain. I am not crazy about it because we have had the talk about geo-bache. We currently live in NY. I am hoping for orders back in California and the house we bought this year we would rent out. My husband is wanting Bahrain because it would definitely help us financially but 3 years?! I’m so on edge. How do you all deal? We have 3 kids ages 13, 12 and 8 and I know they wouldn’t be too crazy about it. I did a year here in NY and he was in Hawaii but I don’t think I can do the 3 years. I am having so many thoughts going through my head. Any info will be greatly appreciated,

  12. 15
    Cheryl Lockhart

    Getting ready to geobach for at least three years… I am the service member; my husband will be remaining home at our retirement property. He has clients here and is the only son of elderly parents in the area…. only sensible option. Very concerned…. packing feels like getting ready for the longest deployment in the world…. we have done well with deployments and plan to see each other every month, but still have great reservations and dread….

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