One challenging duty is that the military expects the military to be first priority- above yourself and even above your relationships. This can sometimes make couples feel like they are the last thing on the priority list. Priority is given to military missions or assignments. Couples learn to adjust to deployment and then need to adjust again when their partner returns. They need creativity to be able to grow together rather than apart when they are not physically able to be together. New habits are formed during deployment and routines are disrupted. Service members may return home with challenging emotions. Some struggle with symptoms of PTSD, nightmares and find it difficult to communicate with their loved ones. They may also come home with disabilities, brain injury or physical loss. This can add increased stress to relationships. Life is also difficult for military families who don’t deploy. The military is not a 9 to 5 job. Work is finished when the job is completed. This schedule often leads to long hours and much time away from home. All of this adds strain to a relationship. Being a military family has its advantages and its disadvantages that civilians may never fully understand. Military families make great sacrifices.
How Do I Know If We Need Couples Counseling?
At one time or another we decide to become a couple because we enjoy each other’s company. We find more pleasure being with another individual then we do by ourselves. Life with our partner can seem fulfilling and even magical. Over time things change, however, stress occurs and individuals learn to cope the best they can. Eventually, you may feel like you can’t relate any more, you have nothing in common, or that communication is frustrating. There may be a lot of fighting, misunderstanding and an inability to feel like you can really connect. There may be also infidelity, heartache and pain. Relationships are difficult. Military relationships add an extra dimension of stress and hurdles to jump. Signs that you may need couples counseling include;
- Either partner has closed off and isn’t communicating anymore
- You aren’t having sex
- You are fighting a lot
- Talking seems to lead to arguing
- One partner may be clingy or feeling insecure
- Your relationship is draining you
- You are angry, confused or unhappy with your relationship
How Can Couples Counseling Help Me?
A professional therapist can assist you in learning new communication skills, developing new ways to connect and find joy and happiness with each other. They can assess arguing and fighting and help you as a couple resolve issues peacefully so you feel like you are working together, not apart. Your therapist can help you identify your feelings and needs so that you can have them met. In couples counseling sessions, you can also identify patterns that are contributing to frustration. Your therapist can help you clarify if you want to stay together as a couple or move in different directions.
One main problem is that many times couples wait until they feel like their marriage might be over before they seek help. Marriage or couples counseling is much more beneficial if it is done as soon as problems arise. Think of it as an oil change for your engine rather than waiting until it has seized up to get it looked at.
My Partner Says “I’m Different” After Serving My Country. What Do I Do?
Every veteran was trained to kill, but how many people were trained to live with that? In your service putting up an emotional wall was imperative for survival of not only yourself, but others around you. Over time, this emotional barrier can put strain on relationship and create feelings of detachment. You may notice a larger gap between you and others. You may also notice that you feel numb or are unable to really feel happy or sad. Living life is about truly feeling. We can help you get that back so that you are able to fully connect with your partner.
We understand you may feel that you returned feeling different then when you left. Chances are individuals that are close to you, especially your spouse, may notice the same thing. The changes that have occurred within you have most likely happened over a period of time while you were away and were gradual to the point where you didn’t realize they even occurred. You may feel like you don’t want to subject your loved ones to the realities of war so you have closed off and “stuffed it down” like you were trained to do. Over time, this creates distance and strain in relationships. It can cause you and others to feel disconnected. You may be suffering in silence because you think this is what you are supposed to do and that talking to someone makes you weak. We have worked with individuals who have chosen this pathway and after 40 years are still carrying around the heavy burdens of war. They were able to work with us in addressing these issues and many times they leave our office with a smile wondering why they didn’t do it sooner so they could feel the peace and relief they much needed.
Despite where you are at in your relationship, if it isn’t where you want it to be, we can help. We invite you to contact us with any questions and a free confidential consultation with a licensed therapist.