We all know spending time apart is a reality of military family life. Training, deployments, unaccompanied tours… all of these things result in having to spend long stretches of time away from your spouse. But what about those times when families choose to do so? Commonly called “geo-baching,” some families choose to spend parts of or entire duty station assignments apart, despite military orders allowing the family to stay in one location.
When I was a newer military spouse, this thought seemed crazy to me. Why in the world, with all of the time you are forced to spend apart as a military family, would anyone make this decision? I will freely admit that I, once upon a time, silently judged families who made this choice. No circumstances could ever make me willingly decide to live apart from my husband or have my children be away from their dad.
Until circumstances changed.
For us, it was 100 percent about what was better for our family — specifically our teenage daughter at the time. With a year left until retirement and with my daughter entering high school, we made the tough decision to live apart for a year so that she could start high school in the same location where she would finish.
And we don’t regret that decision one bit. Sure, it was tough to be apart, it always is. But we traveled to see each other whenever time and finances allowed and, as always, communicated the best we could — just like we had with the many separations before. The year flew by with a toddler and teenager at home with me and my husband doing all of the things that come with retirement.
It paid off in a big way for our daughter, who gracefully dealt with life as a military kid her entire life. This time, we could make a decision that would be best for her education and future. The move was a great success and now, with a little over a year left until graduation, she is thriving.
There are other reasons families make this decision, and now I get it. Sometimes, it’s because the spouse wants to retain a career path or complete a degree. Sometimes, it’s so that children may finish out the school year. Sometimes, it’s so a spouse with small children can stay near their family when they know their service member is likely to be frequently deployed. Sometimes it’s to continue living in a home or area the spouse loves if the next duty station is less than desirable.
And all of these decisions are okay, so long as they are made together, as a family, and communication remains strong.
Would you ever consider living apart if you didn’t have to? Why or why not?