459th couple reflects on self-care and balancing work/life mix

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cierra Presentado
  • 459th ARW/PA

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Many members in a mil-to-mil or mil-to-civ relationship agree that having a work/life balance can be difficult at times due to differences in schedules, deployments, tours of duty (TDYs), etc. The Bryant family shared their experience on how they maintain a healthy mil-to-mil relationship while serving their country and making time for family.

Technical Sergeants David and Ashley Bryant (Pope) have been married for 1.5years (together 4 years) and have been serving at the 459th Air Refueling Wing together since 2019. Tech Sgt. David Bryant III serves as an occupational safety technician with the 459th ARW Safety Office and Tech Sgt. Ashley Bryant serves as the line of duty program and case manager with the 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. The couple initially met while on orders at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., before they landed positions here at Joint Base Andrews.

“My initial plan was not to marry a military member,” Ashley said. “Being in the military and being married military brings a new set of challenges to a relationship and ultimately requires the ability to prioritize and figure out what’s not only important to you but to the other person. For example, my military career bought me to Joint Base Andrews, whereas my spouse was building his career at MacDill. We had to figure out how to manage this which required compromise. You really have to put in a lot of work, and that’s what we’ve done.”

The Bryants, who also parent a 10-year-old, have encountered a few situations in which one member was home while the other was TDY for an extended period of time. This can cause stress in the household, but they find a way to honor service before self while taking care of life at home.

“We’re in the military, so we are expected to serve in any capacity, no matter how it impacts our personal lives,” said David. “My wife and I have made it a priority to always make time for each other and our family. It’s a balancing act. We have a routine, we dine-out once a week, and we get massages, pedicures, and go to wine tastings at least once a quarter. It’s very important for us to take that time to enjoy our home life outside of our day-to-day work life.”

While the Bryants may strive to maintain a healthy relationship, the pair faces challenges at times. With resources such as Military One Source, the couple has thrived and overcome challenges faced within their marriage.

“During COVID, I sought out counseling with Military One Source,” Ashley said. “I wanted to make sure I was communicating effectively. Our personalities are different including the way we manage stress, so getting counseling was important to me in order to maintain a healthy relationship.”

David, on the other hand, said advice from his mentors has kept him grounded.

“I take the wisdom from other people who have been in my shoes and learn from them,” he said. “I’m involved in a men’s group. I have mentors I’ve met throughout my military career that I can reach out to at any time. I take those lessons learned and apply it to my relationship.”

While deployments and TDYs take them away from each other, the Bryants make sure to carve out time once a year to take family vacations both with and without their child.

“Traveling is therapeutic for us; it’s our chance to unwind and put the stressors of work on the back burner,” Ashley said. “I take my girls trips at times too. It’s necessary that we do that for self-care. Whether it’s Florida or Mexico, we make sure we get that time away from normal life.”

The couple loves serving together, and they appreciate the support they receive from their leadership.

“We are both grateful for our leadership and their support,” David said. “There are times when I’m TDY and my wife’s leadership will allow her to flex her schedule to ensure our son is taken care of or vice versa. The Air Force has been such a big support for us.”

Ashley’s favorite things about her husband are his patience, his in-it-to-win-it attitude, and the bond and love he has for her son. David said he admires his wife’s tenacity, how she is not afraid to handle herself, and her go-fourth-and-conquer attitude.

The couple said they love their mil-to-mil relationship and look forward to continuing to serve for many years to come. The pair plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day by taking time off and going to the spa and having a home cooked meal.