Military couples reflect on relationships

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Spencer Gallien
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

As Valentine's Day approaches, it provides an opportunity for couples to reflect and build on their relationships. 


Couples that are married military to military, however, find that their relationships can present new situations and adjustments that their civilian counterparts often don't encounter.


One Moody couple has made their adjustments over the course of nearly 20 years and throughout two Air Force careers. 


Having met as brand new Airmen, Chief Master Sgt. Nick Vallely, 347th Operation Support Squadron chief air traffic controller, and Senior Master Sgt. Dianna Vallely, 23rd Medical Operations Squadron superintendent, have seen their relationship and military careers flourish despite a humble beginning.


"We met as Airman Basics at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, during technical school," said Sergeant Vallely.  "The best part is that we started dating during that time but never planned on staying together.


"As fate would have it, after 'tech' school and the inevitable break-up, we ended up being stationed together at Brooks City-Base, Texas," she added.  "After that, we knew that we we're meant to be together."


Originally, Chief Vallely was a lab technician in the same career field as his wife, but changed career fields in order to better sustain their marriage.


"When we first got married the opportunity arose for me to go into a new career field and become an air traffic controller," he said.  "Not only was this a great opportunity for me, but also better for our relationship in order to have more assignments available to us."


Chief Vallely and Sergeant Vallely will celebrate their anniversary on Aug. 13, but as is often the norm with dual-military couples, he will be deployed during that time.


"My advice to keep a relationship going is to volunteer for deployments and remotes," said Chief Vallely.  "That may sound crazy, but if you don't volunteer, you might end up spending more time apart."


While the Vallely's have almost 20 years of marriage in the military to look back on, another Moody dual-military couple is just starting their relationship adventure together.


Senior Airman Schelli Jones, 23rd Wing Public Affairs photographer, and husband Senior Airman Merrill Jones, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron heating and air conditioning journeyman, became engaged on Valentine's Day 2006.  They were married in July of that year and immediately began to make preparations to ease the difficulties that face military couples.


"We're beginning to prepare now," said Airman Schelli Jones. "We first developed the right child-care plan for our daughter, so she always has a place even if we both are deployed. We also are creating a support net for our relationship to be able to handle long-term separations due to deployments and temporary duties."


The Jones' have also taken advantage of a variety of on-base activities to enhance their relationship including a marriage retreat offered by the Base Chapel.


"There are a ton of great programs on base for couples to enrich their marriages and prepare for a life in the military," she said.  "We would advise any young couple to participate in some of the different marriage programs."


Although spending large amounts of time a part due to deployments can be tough, these difficulties can sometimes make the relationship even stronger- if the couple uses resources available to them, Chief Vallely said.


"My wife and I have been separated due to deployments and remotes for five and a half years of our marriage," said Chief Vallely.  "I wouldn't trade any of those days apart, because those days made our relationship stronger.  We really needed to rely on each other throughout all of our separations.


"Bottom-line, I believe in order to make a relationship work, it has to be fun," the chief added. "If you quit laughing, it's not worth it."