Family priorities often must come second to military orders. When one spouse returns from deployment and begins the homecoming process, the couple may feel as if they are on an emotional rollercoaster. They may experience intense anticipation, anxiety, restlessness, impatience, and excitement. It is also typical to feel resentment, disappointment, frustration, and grief over losses of freedom or independence. It may take the couple several months to find a healthy balance in their relationship again after the deployment. Furthermore, it is common for military couples to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Practitioners must prepare the couple to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD as the spouse may be the first person to notice these symptoms. Marriage and relationship education (MRE) practitioners working with military couples need to let the couple know these feelings are very common. After the euphoria of having the deployed spouse safely back home wears off, problems may emerge during the "immediate reintegration phase" (about 0-6 months after homecoming). These problems often involve renegotiating the relationship. Couples may struggle with communication, balancing responsibilities and decision-making in the relationship, or finding emotional and physical intimacy. Other problems may be more serious mental health concerns, such as PTSD. By working on communication, social support, and balancing responsibilities, you can provide the couple skills to develop a stronger marriage and to become more resilient, even in the face of PTSD or other mental health problems after a deployment. This tip sheet provides practitioners working with couples upon return from deployment recommended skills to work on during MRE classes. (Author abstract)
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