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Lessons in Love from Military Couples

Among military couples, there is often a mutual commitment to serve. Despite the shared purpose and dedication, the nature of military service can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Marked by deployments, transitions, frequent relocations and extended periods of separation, the unique circumstances associated with military life can intensify feelings of isolation for both partners. But as with all couples, it takes time, effort and attention to foster connection and sustain a healthy relationship.

Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a national not-for-profit network of 24 mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans, service members and their families, offers lessons in love from military spouses and tips to help couples enhance their connectedness:

Army spouse Nichole stresses the importance of listening, “When emotions are high, we have learned how vital it is to listen to hear instead of listening to respond. Which sometimes means taking a time out before reengaging in a conversation.”

Tip: Try Reflective Listening – Improve communication by deliberately listening to your partner and reflecting back to them what they just said as a means to truly understand their position. Ex. What I hear you saying is…

Air Force veteran and Army spouse Kametra emphasizes the importance of communication, “I would rather over-communicate with my husband than under-communicate. No matter how I feel, I express it to him so he knows and can better support me.”

Tip: Communicate Your Needs – Speak about your emotion using “I” statements, identify the problem, then propose a solution. Ex. “I feel frustrated when I walk the dog and you’re asleep. Will you walk the dog some days?” 

Coast Guard spouse Jennifer says new experiences help her and her husband stay connected, “We’ve learned through our military journey together the importance of building new memories. Couples that play together stay together! It’s never too late to try something new and exciting.”

Tip: Prioritize Having Fun Together – We often get caught up in daily responsibilities. Make an intentional effort to consistently engage in fun activities with your partner to maintain connection, such as movie nights, walks or lunch dates.

Navy veteran and spouse Korrissa offers insight on how she and her husband spend time together during deployments, “We create Tuesdates. Every Tuesday night, we block off two hours to have a virtual date night. At the beginning of the week, we decide on a dinner to cook together, and on Tuesday night, we cook and eat together via Facetime. It’s a great way to make intentional time for one another.”

Tip: Establish Rituals – Small moments of shared meaning can improve relationship satisfaction. Create rituals, something you do regularly to deepen connection and intimacy. For example, in the morning, make coffee for your partner or, during separations, send them a quick text or email.

Military spouse Hanna has learned how to make up for missed occasions, “When we celebrated our 10-year anniversary, we marked the occasion by getting professional photos taken of us. Sometimes, military families miss out on celebrating special occasions and holidays together, so I make it a point to celebrate everything big or small, from anniversaries and birthdays to getting an award in school. Celebrations make everything more meaningful and memorable for us as a couple and family.”

Tip: Make Your Love Obvious – We never want to assume that our partner knows how much we love and appreciate them – so, make it obvious. How? Show them by celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Making the extra effort to do something special for the other person can show you care.

Discover more articles for the veteran community here.


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