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Marriage takes work, especially in the military. Here's how to prepare for your next deployment.

Marriage takes work. There are wonderful, happy seasons, and there are difficult seasons. When you or your spouse are in the military, one potentially difficult season is deployment.

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Professional tennis player Roger Crawford said, “Being challenged in life is inevitable. Being defeated is optional.” This is true of marriage as well.  Here are some ways you can step up to the challenge of deployment without allowing defeat in your marriage.

[Related: The Seasons of Marriage]

Don’t Let Deployment Surprise You

If you are in the military, you know deployment is part of the deal. Do not wait until you have a deployment date to start planning. It is important to leave as little to chance as possible. Initiate meaningful conversations with your spouse about expectations, responsibilities, and contingency plans. Don’t be idealistic in your planning. While you steer your planning toward the most probable situations, take time to think through dangerous or unwanted scenarios as well. “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

Have A Financial Plan in Place

Disagreements about finances consistently land at the top of survey responses about marriage stress. When you deploy, there is often a financial bonus of some kind. Make plans with your spouse on how finances will be handled while you’re apart. It may be helpful to set aside an “emergency fund” amount for unforeseen car, medical, or other bills. Remember that when you are deployed, your spouse is handling the entire home front alone. Having extra money set aside to relieve your spouse of unplanned stress should be a priority.

Communicate Intentionally During Deployment

Physical separation can be a major stress on your marriage. Plan for different kinds of intentional communication. A phone will not always be available, so in times when you can’t talk, consider pre-written, queued emails that will go out automatically during your absence. You could also communicate messages through friends or through written letters that arrive some time during your absence. Without regular communication, it is easy to fall into the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality and significantly damage your relationship with your spouse and your children. Always make communication a priority.

[Related: Don’t Let Bad Communication Derail Your Marriage]

Carefully Re-Establish Family Norms

Reunions with your spouse and children can be some of the most memorable moments in your life. It’s important, though, to remember that life back home has evolved just as your life has moved forward during deployment. You will have new norms just like your family will have new norms. Take time to re-establish what it means to be a family together. Have clear and open communication with your spouse about how things have changed and how you will work together to get the family back on the same page.

[External Resource: Excellent or Praiseworthy: A Devotional for Military Couples]

Deployment can be a major stressor in your marriage. The good thing is that you know it’s coming. And although planning won’t take away all of the potential difficulties, taking time to military-proof your marriage will help. Your marriage can emerge from deployment not only intact but stronger.

Written content for this topic by John Meade.

Key Points:

  • Be ready to be gone… it’s going to happen.
  • Have a good financial plan with the extra income.
  • Make an extra effort to communicate while you’re gone.
  • Carefully re-establish norms when you get home.  

From the Bible:

James 1:2-6 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

See Also: Military

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Have you had conversations with your spouse about deployment? Are there any aspects of deployment you have been hesitant to bring up? Explain.
  3. How is money handled in your marriage? How will that need to change once you or your spouse are deployed?
  4. Describe your current communication patterns. What is healthy and what needs some work? What are some strategies for making sure there is adequate communication while physically separated?
  5. Discuss how you can enter into healthy dialogue about re-establishing family norms once you or your spouse return from deployment.
  6. Read James 1:2-6. How can you apply this to your next deployment?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.