Unlike material things such as cars or furniture, emotions are harder to fix. Having to deal with various feelings on one’s own can be challenging and lead to adverse psychological outcomes due to burnout from keeping everything to oneself. Therefore, expressing one’s feelings to another person, as exemplified by therapy, is a fundamental step in the direction of dealing with emotions. Maintaining mental health is especially important in military homes because everyone involved experiences tension and concern about the risks to health and safety. Therapy and other positive holistic behaviors are essential for maintaining a positive climate and mental state. A happy military marriage also presents some challenges because the life of the spouses has a lot of curveballs and can make them feel like the relationship is under the threat of falling apart. Keeping the marriage strong is possible through continuous communication, reflection, and mutual support. Counseling is a fundamental part of maintaining a healthy marriage in military families because it enables consistent communication, helps deal with the challenges associated with living long distances, as well as allows develop effective coping mechanisms and conflict resolution strategies.
Importance of Open Communication
A crucial aspect aimed at determining how well military couples deal with the stressors of deployment and preserve a healthy relationship is how well they communicate. Transparent communication among service members and their families, especially spouses, is essential for dealing both with the separation of deployment and the preparation for the arrival of the service member home. Therefore, there should be plenty of opportunities for the consistent exchange of information and feelings to help address important concerns and questions about the entire process and aid couples stay together in a healthy relationship. When the marriage lacks elements of healthy communication, conflicts can take place, leading to misunderstandings, offense on either part, as well as resentment (Brown and Hall 55). On the bright side, couples that have good communication skills tend to have less marital conflict, suggesting the importance of warmth, problem-solving, and self-disclosure.
Beyond communication, there are other strategies that have shown to work for military couples to stay strong and together. As suggested by Eckhart, because a service member is often expected to be absent from home for long periods of time, the responsibility to establish structure in family life and relationships lies on the spouse. Among military couples who have been married for more than ten years, the spouse of the service member has always been the one to create a ‘normal’ life and maintain it. This ranged from celebrating holidays even long-distance to making the most of the time spent physically together. Therefore, it can be beneficial for couples to create their own understanding of ‘normal’ to keep a positive mental outlook that is based on communication and collaborative effort. Preserving the sense of normal is also important when it comes to housework and childcare, which have shown to be instrumental in bringing service members back into everyday family life, thus keeping the marriage strong (Matsakis 108). Going back into one’s place through housework or having to drive children to school is something that can offer routine and the needed boost to adjust to family life after deployment.
Counseling as the Solution to Military Marriage Challenges
Counseling is the most effective strategy to foster good communication within military families because of the benefits it brings on both personal and intrapersonal levels. Due to the challenges that such families encounter on a regular basis, it is important to consider talking to a counselor. The professionals can offer unbiased and neutral perspectives on the marriage of their clients and offer solutions and team exercises that they can incorporate into their family life. Counselors will also help remind couples why they are together and why it is important to support one another through complicated times without any subjective opinion or bias. Besides, when couples try to solve their relationship problems with the help of friends or relatives, not all information is revealed for the fear of being judged. The counselor is completely impartial and can see the situation from an objective angle that does not involve any personal opinion or judgment.
When considering couples counseling, military families can expect several things from the entire process. First, the spouses will talk about the good and the bad things in their relationship in order to understand the sources of their feelings and identify the roots of their conflicts. While laying out everything about one’s problems, with time, it will become easier and more rewarding. Second, couples will have to do their ‘homework’ in the form of exercises that are instrumental to practically apply the lessons learned during counseling sessions (Moore 79). Such assignments can range from simply saying ‘thank you’ to engaging in active listening. Third, it is up to the couple to decide as to how long they will have counseling sessions. An important thing to consider is that the psychology professionals are there to help couples understand their differences and work through them. The overall consensus regarding the maintenance of military families is that every couple is different and various solutions will work for keeping their marriage strong. However, finding the best way to get through the hardest times is critical for longevity, with open communication and transparency being the key to strong relationships.
Stemming from the discussion about counseling, military couples should also consider the importance of spirituality and other holistic ways of dealing with family issues. According to Thompson, whether couples are spiritual or secular, it is essential that they find meaning in abstract concepts and practices, such as meditation or prayer, that they can implement in their routines, whether they are long distance or in their home. If a couple is involved in a local church community, for example, it could be beneficial to do attend social gatherings with other couples and socialize within a spiritual setting. All the examples are expected to elevate spouses’ levels of attachment while also helping to overcome the obstacles of military couple life through a close emotional connection.
To conclude, the life of a military couple can be challenged by the lack of open communication and the need to stay apart for long periods of time due to deployment. While there are several strategies implemented to address the issue, counseling is recommended as the focal approach toward problem-solving. Evidence has shown that counselling is key to maintaining a healthy marriage in military families because it ensures ongoing communication, helps deal with the issues associated with living on a long distance, as well as allows develop effective coping mechanisms and conflict resolution strategies.
Eckhart, Jacey. “How Long-Married Military Couples Stay Together.” Military.com, 2020, Web.
Matsakis, Aphrodite. Back from the Front: Combat Trauma, Love, and the Family. Sidran Institute, 2007.
Thompson, Mark F. “Semper FI: The Effect of Marriage Enrichment on Military Marriages: A Causal Study.” 30 Nov. 2011.
Brown, Jessica, and Brenda Hall. “Exploring Intimate Partner Communication in Military Couples: Implications for Counselors.” American Counseling Association, 2009. Web.
Moore, Bret. Handbook of Counseling Military Couples. Routledge, 2012.