The Soldiers Project (TSP) is a non-profit group of volunteer licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists who give of their time and services to help our wounded warriors, their spouses/partners, and their families heal. Although most couples and families face many challenges within their relationships, military members and their families are confronted with unique circumstances precipitated by the dynamics and demands of their respective careers and work environments.
Couples who have been together for even a short period of time know that is takes a steadfast commitment of mutual respect, patience, understanding, and selflessness from each partner in order to make a relationship work. Effective and timely communication is often regarded as a key in navigating through the stresses, struggles, and set-backs of daily living. For most civilian couples who are with one another on a daily basis, cultivating and sustaining a trusting, healthy and mutually satisfying relationship is hard, hard work.
With long periods of separation, with movement to and from high-intensity environments to home settings, and with a myriad of additional combat and civilian stressors, military couples or partners (and their families) are confronted with issues that can damage and destroy the most solid of relationships.
In my interview with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Lani Bain Stoner (who has worked with The
|Lani Stoner, MFT|
The Soldiers Project - Part Two: "Helping Our Wounded Warriors, Their Spouses and Their Families Heal"
Common struggles include the following:
- Trust for both the at-home spouse or partner and the away spouse or partner.
- Problems coping with stress, for both partners.
- Expectations each partner has about their spouse's role in the household, their duties, and other family responsibilities.
- Cultural or belief differences.
- Personality differences and communication styles.
- Emotional and physical changes.
Although I have not had the privilege of working with The Soldiers Project, I have counseled numerous individuals (couples and families) who have served in the military or who have been first responders, and I specialize in treating abuse/trauma victims. Because of a culture and climate that often regards 'seeking counsel' as a weakness or that it is 'shameful' to admit suffering, I would like to encourage military members and Veterans to start by taking three healing steps:
|Time, Healing, and Grieving|
Secondly, give yourself permission to heal.
Although this may sound foreign, there is nothing shameful or cowardly about reaching out for help. As long as individuals stay bound to their past, they remain in their pain. PTSD, depression, or self-soothing in unhealthy ways will not get better by itself. Military members and Veterans - you are our heroes; you will always be. And, you are human. The bravest thing you can do right now - for yourself and your loved-ones - is to get the help you need. It's time you are your own hero.
Thirdly, give yourself ample opportunity to grieve your losses.
I have heard many family members and friends say about their loved-ones who have served, "Holli, he/she is not the same person who left. The person I know now is a stranger." This is probably more true than most of us know. Our service men and women have experienced tremendous loss - physically, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, professionally, spiritually, and the list goes on. They, and their loved-ones, must take time to grieve each and every one of these losses. Our service men and women must work through the denial, anger, depression and bargaining in order to reach a level of acceptance. And then, our warriors can begin again - to reframe and reshape their lives, one day at a time.
|Always A Hero|
For more information, please visit The Soldiers Project National # 877-576-5343
For more articles written by Lani Stoner, please visit The Soldiers Project Couples Therapy Series
For today's show and more information, please take a listen. The Soldiers Project - Part Two: "Helping Our Wounded Warriors, Their Spouses and Their Families Heal"
For last weeks show, please take a listen. The Soldiers Project - Part One