Marriage has many challenges but for military couples, there are many additional stresses to overcome. And that’s putting it mildly. Re-locations and separations present challenges for both you and your family. Planning for separations can help, including preparing for the emotions or concerns that will come up while you are apart from your spouse. Remember, although separations may present challenges, they also produce opportunities for growth and development, both personally and within the family setting.
Here are a few tips for military husbands and wives:
PLAN- First thing is first, you must make sure you sit down with your partner to discuss how the daily routine of your household will be run. You need to not only have the finances in order, but how to accomplish day-to-day routines with only one parent will need planning as well. Make sure your children are involved by giving them responsibilities so they can play a positive role within the family. Talk about discipline, family rules and what to expect when the parent heads out on deployment. Make sure you stick with your plans and reevaluate them when you need to. Consider hiring someone to help with anything that will be to overwhelming for the at-home parent. Military lives can change quickly. If you have a plan ahead of time then you are avoiding any added stress in the future. Unfortunately being in the military can be a risky job. As a family you need to openly discuss the possibilities of injury, PTSD, and even death. Make sure you have all of the legal stuff in order and know what you may need to do ahead of time in case you’re faced with this possibility. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from extended family as well. They may not be close by but they can offer advice or support when needed.
MAKE CONNECTIONS- Military families have to move so frequently, which means there are challenges to being close to your family and friends. It also can make it challenging to make friends and enjoy a social life. When possible, join clubs, teams, groups, especially within the military community. You will rely heavily on these relationships when your spouse is deployed. They will know exactly how you feel and what you’re going through. Consider becoming a mentor for other military spouses. This will not only give you a chance to connect and meet new families, but make you feel like you’ve accomplished something positive. Another great way to make connections is to volunteer in the military community. This will give you the chance to network with others military families. Get your children involved in activities. This will not only help them make friends but you’ll be able to connect with other parents who know your same struggles.
COMMUNICATION AND SUPPORT- Every relationship is based on communication. When your spouse is not physically present, it can be easy for you to forget to share daily life with them. Remember to communicate details to your deployed spouse. They are missing out on some amazing life moments, things you may take for granted they are unable to experience right now. Be empathetic and not resentful. Tell them all about your children’s activities even though, for example, you may be really tired and just need to finish dinner. Remember while you may be feeling sorry for yourself while trying to balance home life, there are times when your solider would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Come up with creative ideas to help your deployed spouse feel like they are a part of the family. Send them care packages with hand written letters, pictures, drawings, kids projects and anything that may help them feel at home. Soldiers need your support daily. And this also goes for those deployed. You should share as many details of your daily activities to help your spouse understand why you may be feeling a certain way. As much as possible, try to call your spouse, send letters and heartfelt thoughts.
Remember that military life is something you chose and you can get through this as long as you continuously work hard on keeping the family together even when you’re apart. There are many people who are grateful for the service that your family provides to our country.
For more support, please contact me to schedule an appointment. I have been proudly serving as a family and couples therapist for military families for over a decade.