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Maintaining a healthy marriage can be a lot of work. While every couple faces challenging times, military couples endure unique situations that can pile on stress – and threaten their marriages.

The U.S. military consists of over one million active-duty members, and about half of them are married. This means that thousands of couples may face military-specific marital problems each year. Here are some common issues you may encounter as the spouse of a military member:

  • Stress spillover: Military families often live in tight-knit communities where they work, shop, attend appointments and go to school. This can result in strongly intertwined personal and professional lives. Consequently, stress from your spouse’s workday can easily spill over into their home life. This can lead to anger, frustration and arguments between the two of you.
  • Time away: When your spouse travels for training or deployment, you may find yourself taking on their responsibilities and adapting to life without them. When your spouse returns home, you must adjust once again as they resume their role. It can be difficult to repeatedly adjust and can lead to emotional distancing and conflict.
  • Demanding schedules: It’s no surprise that military members often have stressful and busy schedules. As a result, they may not be able to spend as much time with you as they’d like to. When they do have time, they may be stressed and drained. These negative emotions can lead to frustration on both ends.

Ways to combat stressors

While military couples undoubtedly face distinct marital issues, some measures can be taken to reduce the impact of these stressors. Here are a few steps that you can take:

  • Seek social support. A strong support system can help when your spouse is deployed, away for training or busy with work. This social circle could include friends, family, a therapist or fellow military spouses.
  • Engage in meaningful communication. Continuous communication is key, especially when it comes to dealing with readjustment. It’s important that both you and your spouse put effort into thoughtful conversation, and support each other during transitional periods.
  • Remember the importance of service. When both partners recognize the significance of military service, it can be easier to have a positive attitude about the downsides of it. A positive outlook may help you better cope with frequent moves and demanding schedules.

Military couples encounter stressors that may require extra attention. Luckily, there are steps you can take to support your situation – and help your marriage thrive.