Marriage Advice: Returning Soldiers (and Their Spouses) May Need to Readjust to the Relationship

May 1, 2012 by

The best marriage advice I can give to returning soldiers and their spouses is to expect a bit of rough waters and be willing to give each other time to adjust their expectations. In Bend, Oregon relationship counseling, I’ve dealt with a number of soldiers who came home excited, only to find that normal life felt trivial compared to the daily fight for survival in the field. Likewise, I’ve counseled military spouses who were upset to discover that the person they now live with isn’t the same as the one before deployment interrupted their lives.

The truth is that both of you have most likely changed, and you are going to need to readjust your expectations for the relationship, and for each other, if it is going to survive. Sometimes this requires seeking professional help.

Marriage Advice: Get to Know Each Other Again

My counseling sessions with military couples often revolve around how both partners feel like they are dealing with a different person and don’t know how they fit in anymore. Rather than looking at this as an obstacle, I encourage my clients to see it as an opportunity to get to know the love of their life for a second time – the person they loved is still there, but now there is new side of them with new experiences to share.

Marriage Advice: Don’t Force It

This doesn’t mean you should give up by any means, but realize that so much time apart may mean that you won’t have the same immediate intimacy. For a returning solider, this is especially true, because some of the things they’ve seen or done may have affected them on such a profound level that they are still processing it on their own. If you are the spouse of a soldier, do your best to try to understand and respect the times when your partner doesn’t feel like they can open up to you yet.

In Bend, Oregon relationship counseling, we encourage patience, and suggest engaging in activities together that make both of you comfortable. Above all, know that this is something that is going to take time, and your expectations have to be realistic.

You may find it beneficial to attend a marriage workshop where you can work on your communication skills, or to seek marriage advice and get to know each other again with the help of a professional in Bend, Oregon relationship counseling.