Are you married to a service member and want to strengthen your relationship? Or a military girlfriend worried about military spouse divorce rates? Whether your relationship is thriving or barely surviving, you can take steps to strengthen your military marriage.
Being a military couple can be challenging. Regular life and military life will throw things your way, and having a strong, loving, resilient relationship makes it easier to navigate the ups and downs. But it takes hard work to make a marriage thrive– even more so when you have deployments and military orders impacting your life. Knowing how to strengthen a marriage before, during, and after deployments is essential. Keep reading to learn more about military marriages, including ways to strengthen a marriage that’ll keep you crazy connected to your spouse.
How Many Military Marriages End in Divorce?
Okay–first things first, let’s get this out of the way. 3.1%–that’s how many military marriages end in divorce. The national average hovers around 1.6%. Although it’s true that military spouse divorce rates are higher than the national divorce rate, it does not mean your marriage or relationship is doomed. There are ways to strengthen a marriage and make your partnership stronger than ever.
How to Keep a Military Marriage Strong During Deployments
One of the most challenging aspects of being married to someone in the military is frequent deployments and separations. Whether your husband is on active duty or not, service members must attend trainings and be away from home for extended periods. Keeping a military marriage strong during deployments can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Here are my top six suggestions for ways to strengthen a marriage before, during, and after deployment.
1. Before They Leave: Talk About the Upcoming Separation
Although it’s painful to think about, don’t pretend it’s not happening. The more you talk about it, the more prepared you’ll feel when it comes. Practice open, honest communication–share your feelings, worries, fears, and expectations with your spouse. And be willing to listen to theirs. This will bring you closer, helping you connect emotionally and strengthen your marriage before they leave.
2. Before They Leave: Set Expectations for Communication While They’re Gone
Depending on where your husband is going and for how long, you may or may not get to be in regular contact with them. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can help prepare you for communicating while they’re away. Explore options such as email, phone calls, video chat, and snail mail.
Personally, my family loves to use the Marco Polo app because you can record videos for your spouse that they can watch and respond to whenever the time is right for them. Between time differences, their work schedule away, and your daily schedule at home, you might not always be able to talk on the phone. You can get Marco Polo PLUS for free with their military discount–try it today, and prepare to use it during deployments to help strengthen your relationship.
3. While They’re Gone: Allow Yourself to Miss Them
Trying not to miss your husband when he’s gone won’t make the time apart any easier. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it is not a good tactic for keeping a military marriage strong during deployment. Interestingly, in an attempt not to miss them, you’ll miss them more. Instead, let yourself feel all the feelings–sad, lonely, worried, unhappy, relieved, stressed. No emotion is wrong. All are valid. And by allowing yourself to miss your spouse–and feel all the feelings that come along with that–you’ll actually strengthen your relationship.
4. While They’re Gone: Think About All the Reasons You Love Them
Not only do I encourage you to allow yourself to miss your spouse. But I also encourage you to think about everything you love about them while they’re away. This is an excellent way to strengthen your military marriage.
You can stay crazy connected to your spouse during deployments, even if you don’t get to talk often. Connection starts in your mind, with your thoughts. By thinking about all the reasons you love your spouse–even reflecting on some of your favorite memories with them–you’ll become more connected and strengthen the relationship for yourself.
5: Before They Return: Remember You’re a Team
Before your spouse returns from a deployment, your mind will likely be racing with questions like:
- What if everything is different?
- What if he doesn’t love me anymore?
- What if we don’t remember how to live together?
- What if he’s changed?
- What if I’ve changed?
- What if intimacy is difficult?
- What if we argue about how to handle finances?
- What if it goes poorly with the kids?
Reintegration is completed. The best way to strengthen a marriage during reintegration is to remember you’re in it together. Rather than focusing on what you think they should or shouldn’t do, focus on yourself. Remind yourself that no matter what happens, you’re in it together and will do whatever it takes to make the marriage work.
6. When They Return: Show Grace
Whether you’ve been married for a month or 20 years, you’re probably well aware that giving grace, understanding, forgiveness, love, and the benefit of the doubt is essential. This is especially true when focusing on how to strengthen a marriage after deployment. I encourage you to focus on managing your mind and emotions while giving your spouse room to do the same. In time, you’ll readjust, and there’s no reason to rush it. Give grace while figuring out how to hand back roles and responsibilities, while they figure out how to switch their brain from life in a combat zone to home life.
So, Are Military Marriages Successful?
Military marriages–just like all marriages–take work. But I can attest to the fact that military marriages can be successful. One of the most significant contributors to my successful 14+ years of marriage is learning how to manage my mind and stay crazy connected to my husband, even when he’s gone.
If you want to learn how to do those two things to strengthen your military marriage, listen to these three Simply Resilient Podcast episodes:
- Episode 14 – How To Feel Connected to Your Husband While He’s Away
- Episode 28 – How To Feel Crazy Connected to Your Husband Even When He’s Deployed
- Episode 56 – The Husband Episode
Then schedule a FREE military wife life coaching call with me! I would love to hear your story and share actionable steps you can take today to strengthen your relationship and avoid military spouse divorce!
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