Decreasing Deployment Stress – 4 Tips for Military Couples

U.S. Navy Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SW) William Boyd kisses his wife, Marie, before boarding the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), Jan. 2010, at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va. Gunston Hall Sailors were deploying to Haiti to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Suits, U.S. Navy/Released)

Military couples have challenges beyond those of typical relationships. That additional stress of multiple deployments and multiple moves can erode a couples’ relationship.

Yet, there are ways to build resiliency in a relationship according to Dr. Kate McGraw, a clinical psychologist with the Defense Centers of Excellence.

McGraw contributed an entry for the DCoE blog: Success before Stress: Keeping Relationships Healthy. Here are her four tips from that column:

  • Ask your partner what they need. Also, you should both be able to identify what you need and how your needs can be met. If you both develop empathy for each other’s needs, than you will both be very satisfied with what you can create together in your relationship.
  • Eliminate all sarcasm, name calling, belittling or other types of verbal and emotional abuse, and make a pact to not tolerate displays of temper such as slamming objects or doors. These behaviors cause significant damage to the trust and safety between you and may lead to physical abuse. If you’re able to say at least five positive comments to every negative one you say to your partner, your relationship will feel much more loving and supportive.
  • Nurture the bond between you. One way is to foster and keep open regular communication about the important things in your life, as well as the small daily matters.
  • Develop a homecoming ritual upon your partner’s return from deployment. This ritual can serve as a line of demarcation for both of you, a dividing point from their being away at war, to being here, at peace.

McGraw added it’s important to take time after returning from a deployment to adjust. “The non-military partner can play an important role in the stress management of the relationship by lovingly encouraging their military partner to seek help if it appears they are experiencing severe post-deployment problems.”

Here’s another DCoE article: Couple Tidbits: Dealing with Conflict.

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