It’s a fact: military deployment is tough on a family. Research shows deployment is an emotional and stressful experience for military personnel, their spouses and their children.
The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center reports that the separation can cause stress due to the loss of emotional support, disconnected relationships, and increased caretaking and household responsibilities for the civilian spouse. It can also cause spouses to experience loneliness, anger, depression and anxiety.
Reunion can also be a challenge for military personnel and their families. Just look at this information from The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center:
Research shows that the non-deployed spouse often carries certain expectations about the reunion and may feel let down if his or her partner is withdrawn and depressed upon return.
The returning spouse may also face health/mental health conditions that make reintegration challenging.
Further, following deployment, the non-deployed spouse may feel irritated at relinquishing the independent roles they have established during their partner's absence, while the returning spouse may wonder why he/she cannot simply resume pre-deployment roles.
It may take several months before couples adjust to living together again. This process often involves a reexamination and renegotiation of the marriage, family roles, and family structure.
(source: National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org/resource-detail/in-the-military-relationships-and-marriage-collection-by-topic/#couple_stressors)
These are difficult challenges to face—and to overcome—but there is a way not only to survive trials but also to grow even stronger in the process. Here are five vital keys to building a fortress of love that will protect your marriage.
Connect and Stay Connected
Your ability to endure together in the hard times is directly proportional to the depth of your partnership in good times. Two hearts must link up to grow strong together. If you want to stay glued together in difficulties, you have to apply the cement of partnership now. Before you go your separate ways each day, give each other a heartfelt, “I love you.” Stay connected by calling each other during the day. Do what it takes to feel connected and present for each other even when you’re apart
Make Your Relationship a Safe Place
Is your relationship a safe place where both of you can run from the troubles of life? Your spouse needs to know now that your loving arms will always be a shelter in the midst of a trial or tragedy. He or she will sense that assurance only if you practice empathy and comfort now.
It’s difficult to communicate during tough times. Even the smallest of trials can drive a wedge between a husband and wife. And if small conflicts can divide you, think how much more some of the devastating blows of life can push you apart. Trials are a threat to communication because they isolate you in your own thoughts. Trials have a way of forcing even the most communicative people inward.
Rest in the Truth That God Has a Purpose for Trials
If it were up to us, we would choose to navigate through life with as few problems as possible. God doesn’t see things our way, however. He has allowed trials in our lives to teach us to persevere. Great marriages are often forged through difficult trials. Whatever you may be facing in your marriage right now, let the words of James 1:2-4 be both instruction and comfort: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Decide to Tackle Trouble Together—Wherever It Takes You
We have found that our love for each other is glorious in the good times—the vacations on the beach, the memory-making experiences with the kids, the times of deep intimacy together with Jesus Christ. It’s easy to love in the good times. But when our marriage comes under intense testing, we still have in our possession what really matters: A love that won’t quit. No matter where our trials take us, we have each other.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!