Stress is a normal part of most people’s lives. Of course, not all stress is bad. But some stress can negatively affect your health and damage or destroy your relationships, especially if left untreated. When it comes to military life, there are many things that can cause family stress. Several examples include deployments, time away from home, working long hours, moving every few years, struggling financially, and much more.
In the paragraphs below, I want to share some of my favorite tips for reducing family stress for military personnel and military families.
# 1 Get Involved in the Family Support Group
Every Army unit is supposed to have a Family Support Group. This is a group where spouses, family members, and friends of the family can meet up on a regular basis for fellowship and to find out what is going on in the unit. It’s a great place to meet new friends and share your feelings or concerns. Best of all, it’s free.
# 2 Attend Marriage Retreats and Marriage Classes
The ARNG, USAR and Active Duty all offer free marriage retreats and classes for military families. I’ve been on one of these retreats myself (and my spouse) and really enjoyed it. The retreats are taught by a chaplain and/or marriage counselor or therapist. You will learn lots of great ideas about keeping your relationship strong and reducing the family stress.
# 3 Sit Down with the a Chaplain or Pastor
Most Army units also have a Chaplain. Whether you are a religious person or not, the Chaplain can sit down with you and offer you some great advice to keep your relationship strong and reduce the family stress in your household. If you are a religious person, you can also talk to your pastor at your local church.
# 4 Talk with Other Military Families to See What They Do
You could find a trusted friend or couple that has lived the “military life” for 10+ years and get some tips from them. You might be surprised at what you can learn from someone who has been there and done that. Most long-term military couples have a lot of experience dealing with issues facing today’s military personnel.
# 5 Read Some Books on Stress Management
There are lots of great books on stress management. You can visit your local library or go to your local book store. I’ve recommended a few of my favorite “family stress” related books that will benefit military families.
# 6 Have a Heart to Heart with Your Spouse
If the stress is built up in your home, you should have a heart to heart with your spouse. After all, you are a team. You should be able to talk to each other about things. Letting the stress build up and keeping it all to yourself is a bad idea. When you are stressed out, sit down with your spouse for an hour or so and talk about what you are feeling and thinking.
# 7 Resign, ETS or Get Out of the Military If Needed
There might come a point in your career where “serving in the military” might not be the best course of action for your family. I’ve always believed that the family is more important than the military. Some people might disagree, but I believe that your family should always be # 1, even ahead of your career. If you see that your military career is destroying your relationship(s), you should consider looking for a new career.
The secret to dealing with stress is to understand it. You must realize that stress is normal and learn to identify when you are stressed out. When you feel stressed for more than a day straight, sit down and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let it build up and get out of control. By following the seven ideas listed above for how to deal with family stress from military life, you should be able to resolve any issue you have.
If you have any comments or questions, you can post them below.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, or family therapist. These are simply my tips from my personal experience in the military. If you need help, visit a licensed professional.