Love and War: Marriage with a Deployed Spouse

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Love and war: Two words associated with very big meanings and emotions that completely contradict one another. Yet, so often in literature and film these two words go hand-in-hand. Literature and film frequently romanticize the idea of war. The story is of a soldier overseas penning love letters to his significant other back home, thousands of miles away, followed by his safe return home. Upon return she runs up to him as he walks off of the plane, flings her arms around his neck and they live happily ever after. But what is the reality for thousands of married couples with a spouse deployed?

The reality is different for everyone. There is no doubt that time away from one another is difficult and worrisome, especially depending on the location of the deployment. A deployment to a “conflict zone” carries a different level of stressors than a deployment to an overseas training base.  Yet, regardless of location of deployment, life must go on for each spouse. The soldier has his/her duties just as the spouse at home has his/her everyday tasks that still need to be accomplished. While it is perfectly normal for the military spouse to worry on a daily basis, it is import that he/she keeps a normal routine, especially if there are children involved.

Resentment can be a strong emotion for the military spouse when he/she is the one taking on the role of husband, wife, mother, and father all at once. All household and childcare responsibilities fall onto the shoulders of the military spouse. Yet, once these roles are established, they become a normal part of the daily routine. Communicating when possible and respecting each other’s roles and duties is key in maintaining a healthy relationship while so far apart. For the military spouse at home, having a local support system is important. Whether it is friends and family, co-workers, or other military spouses, keeping those other human connections open with people who love and support you are important.

What about life when the deployed spouse returns home? While this can be a joyous moment, it can also be the most difficult. The military spouse that has been juggling multiple roles is now having his/her routine disrupted and those roles taken away, only to potentially have to take them on again if there is another deployment. This is where the real challenge can present itself. Two people who love each other and have been living separate lives are now under the same roof and having to learn how to live alongside one another again. The parent that has been home raising the children may have one way of doing things, while the once deployed spouse has his/her own way have handling a situation. This can create an abundance of tension that builds up. These issues need to be addressed and sorted out in order to carry on as a happy, functioning family.

Respect and communication are key in any relationship. Maintaining those characteristics alongside a healthy routine will aid you in your marriage to a deployed spouse. If you are having difficulties finding that balance, be sure to speak to a professional who can offer suggestions for your situation.