Family Matters blog: Dealing with deployments

I spoke to a spouse last year about dealing with deployments and keeping military marriages strong. Her husband had just returned from a yearlong deployment in Iraq.

She cited an example of the types of issues that can arise when communication falls to the wayside. As the primary disciplinarian while her husband was gone, she adopted a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for their 3-year-old son. Her husband, however, was more of a “one strike” kind of guy, and reinstituted his stricter ways upon his return.

Upset at being usurped from her disciplinarian role so quickly, his wife got angry. “At first I yelled at him a lot,” she said. “I’d correct him more than I’d correct my child.”

In time, she learned to bite her tongue and to discuss the situation with her husband behind closed doors.

Marriage is tough enough without tossing in the additional stressors of military life. But even the toughest military challenges can be weathered with some advance planning and healthy communication skills. And in the process, marriages can grow even stronger.

Military OneSource has tips for keeping military marriages strong:

• Before your spouse leaves, sit down together to discuss your upcoming separation and how it makes you feel.

• Create a family plan outlining how each of you will manage during your time apart. It’s important to be flexible about your roles since the at-home spouse may be handling chores that have always been the other spouse’s responsibility.

• Talk about emergencies and whom to turn to in the event of an emergency.

• Discuss responsibilities and staying connected as a family.

• Talk about finances. This will help you avoid misunderstandings or disagreements about money. Designate one spouse to manage the household expenses.

• Discuss how you will stay in touch. It’s comforting to know beforehand how often you will be in contact.

If the stress becomes too much:

w Installations have chaplains available for support and assistance. You can also seek assistance through Military OneSource, also online at www.MilitaryOneSource.com or by phone at 1-800-342-9647.