Written on August 3, 2012
By Glenn Selby
Ah, the honeymoon phase — when everything is fresh and exciting, when faults are merely quirks and fights are simply pent-up passion. Fast forward a few years and some couples may be scratching their heads, thinking, “Wait, we have to work at this?”
All relationships take work. While it can be challenging for any couple to navigate a long-term relationship, military couples face unique stressors. Deployments, transitions, reintegration and separation can impact the connection with a spouse or partner, causing anxiety, conflict and isolation. These feelings and behaviors are common when a relationship is going through a tough phase, but it’s important to address concerns before they turn into serious problems.
While tip sheets and articles are useful, interactive help — such as workshops and counseling — provide a dialogue to enrich relationships well past the honeymoon phase.
Check out the relationship workshop offered through afterdeployment.org, where couples can take an assessment to get feedback on their relationship, learn about various relationship skills and watch videos of other military couples opening up about challenges they faced. Also, flip through the e-library for in-depth information and tips on how to improve relationships through all phases of deployment, transitions and at home.
Military OneSource offers service members and their spouses face-to-face, phone or online non-medical counseling for short-term concerns for up to 12 free sessions. Licensed, professional counselors help couples identify problems and find ways to cope with them, through individual or joint consultations. Visit their counseling home page or call 800-342-9647 to learn more.
Try a relationship class offered through your local installation or family support center. These all-service programs, often led by a chaplain, can help couples overcome challenges and reconnect emotionally and spiritually. Find out what programs are available through the National Military Family Association.
Take a vacation!. The Army’s Strong Bonds and Navy’s Chaplain’s Religious Enrichment Development Operation programs take couples on free retreats to learn marriage enhancement skills and simply spend some quality time together in a picturesque setting. An added romantic treat — couples can renew their vows before they depart.
For any couple who wants to talk, the 24/7 DCoE Outreach Center can connect you to a military family life consultant by email, phone or live chat — just call them at 866-966-1020. Also check out a list of counseling options that strengthen military families through the Real Warriors Campaign.