I fear my marriage is going to be in trouble when my husband gets home. I’m so used to doing things my way (for these last two back to back deployments). Now he’ll be home, all the time, awaiting retirement with no more deployments, which I love. We were fine to avoid the hot button issues while he was gone. But now, I’m seeing the light and want help to restore our marriage to potential. What are my options?
Charlotte; Hunter Army Airfield; U.S. Army; almost 20 years
When you ask about options Charlotte, we’re reminded of a short vignette of a friend of ours as told in the introduction to the book Help! I’m a Military Spouse. One of the authors, Holly Scherer, laid out three options: do nothing and remain miserable in your military marriage, divorce (which you’ve made clear you’re trying to avoid), or fight back. Fight against the inclination to throw your hands up and blame the military, blame your husband, or blame yourself. Asking for help and resources is at the beginning of that fight, and we’re here to help and wish you well.
A lot has transpired in just the last few years to make the kind of help you requested readily available.
Tricare, previously thought of for strictly physical health solutions, is now providing comprehensive services in the behavioral health realm. A certified Marriage and Family therapist is one type of behavioral health provider authorized under Tricare. A Pastoral counselor—with physician referral—is another. Costs vary with providers from the Tricare-authorized network vs. non-network providers so be sure to investigate the specific costs applicable to your health plan and chosen provider. A comprehensive Tricare benefit overview and information on mental health and behavioral healthcare can be found at http://www.tricare.mil/LiveWell/MentalHealth/GettingCare.aspx.
There is also a Life Events tab that can help you and your husband navigate Tricare changes due to retirement. Learning and planning together for the transitions ahead can bring about a tremendous sense of unity, something which may have been missing when you learned to live without him these past few years.
ValueOptions, Inc. is the partner that provides Tricare with access to behavioral health providers. They have also developed a Web site that allows beneficiaries access to articles on a variety of topics, some being Family Care & Education and Relationships. The Web site is http://www.AchieveSolutions.net (Achieve Solutions®). There you can get started by reading about “What Makes Marriage Last” and “Overcoming Self-defeating Behavior.” There is also a relationship questionnaire that will help you gauge the true state of your marriage.
Achieve Solutions® is like the Military One Source Web site, which is a great place to start searching for counseling options too. It’s a short-term option, but does not require any referral from Tricare, no co-pays or deductibles, and may even be done by phone. The limit is six sessions per issue. Complicated issues that might be upsetting your marriage such as PTSD or substance abuse might better be served through Tricare referrals or veteran centers.
At vet centers, chaplains and counselors work with service members and their families for all kinds of counseling (e.g. PTSD, substance abuse, and marital reconciliation). You can find the nearest center through the Veterans Administration Web site http://www.va.gov. These “centers” are in addition to the hospitals and clinics and are sprouting in more and more. They are a good place to start for assessment and will support your family in finding appropriate providers in your community.
You and your soldier are not the only ones wanting your relationship to persevere. Military marriages have been the focus of chaplains for longer than you have been married probably. Specifically, since 1997, chaplain-led retreats known as Strong Bonds retreats in the Army have been assisting families throughout their various stages to restore and preserve their relationships.
At http://www.StrongBonds.org, you can find out more information and check to see if there is a Strong Bonds event near you. These retreats are Army specific though.
There are other numerous options like weekend workshops that may not be free, but definitely worth the investment. Getting away may be the best way to reconnect and start fresh. Look for something with a military rate like Family Life’s Weekend to Remember. Get some other military couples on board with you. There are so many couples who are just like you, looking for some guidance and support to get them through these tough times of repeat deployments, frequent moves, and even transition into retirement. Check with your local veterans’ agencies, churches, and support organizations like the Armed Services YMCA, Red Cross, or USO for referrals to similar type events.
There are a lot of couples in your same situation, and we hope you’ll see here there are also a lot of resources to help. Good luck. We applaud your determination!