Building Healthy Relationships in Military Families

By Jenny Rea, Ph.D.

Jennifer Rea author pictureWhen asked, “How are you?”; how often have you responded, “I’m good, but I’ve just been so busy”? 

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. 

As a helping professional, you are tasked with several work duties each day alongside managing all the things in your personal and family life as well. It is exhausting, but it is important to remember that you are not alone in feeling this way. 

The military families you serve also face similar challenges. In addition to managing the demands of everyday life (e.g., juggling household items, taking care of children’s needs), military families encounter additional hurdles that coincide with military life (e.g., frequent moves, unpredictable deployments).

In all faucets (e.g., personal, professional, and familial relationships) of a military family’s life, healthy relationships lay a foundation for overcoming and dealing with all the busyness that life brings. 

When military families have stable and resilient relationships they can better cope with stress and challenges that may arise, whether military- (e.g., unexpected permanent change of duty [PCS]) or other (e.g., financial hardship).

In an effort to better support you in your work with military families, we’re sharing two research-based tips for building healthy relationships while navigating life and its busyness.

Tip #1

Build strong communication skills. In romantic relationships, positive and consistent communication can provide couples with increased fulfillment, lower PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) risk in Service members, and establish a “greater sense of support, trust, and intimacy in relationships.” This all in return may facilitate greater resilience for the entire family throughout various military-related transitions. Share the Re the We” campaign launched by Military OneSource to help military couples meet their relationship goals.

Tip #2

Teach stress and emotion regulation techniques. Military life is uniquely unpredictable. Parents and caregivers may become overwhelmingly busy and experience greater stress due to frequent transitions and shifts in family roles. One resource that focuses on mindfulness and emotional coaching is a research-based program called ADAPT (After Deployment: Adaptive Parenting Tools). ADAPT can assist the families you work with by strengthening parents’ capacities to regulate their emotions and be more effective with their children.

Want to learn more?

For additional tools and resources to assist military couples and families in strengthening relationships, join us in our upcoming 2021-22 webinar series, A Close Look at Relationships: Supporting Military Couples!

Additional Materials

    1. Healthy Relationships Matter for Military Families
    2. Supporting Military Couple Relationships

 

References
    1. Blow, A. J., Farero, A. M., Ufer, L. G., Kees, M., & Guty, D. (2021). National Guard couples communicating during deployment: The challenge of effective connection. Contemporary Family Therapy, 1-10.
    2. Zhang, N., Zhang, J., Gewirtz, A. H., & Piehler, T. F. (2018). Improving parental emotion socialization in military families: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(8), 1046.

 

This post was written by Jenny Rea, Ph.D., military spouse, and mom of four kiddos under five years. Jenny consults with the MFLN Family Transitions team to support professional development for military family service providers. You may find more blogs, podcasts, and webinars from Family Transitions. We invite you to engage with Family Transitions on Twitter @MFLNFT and with MFLN on Facebook @MilitaryFamilies.