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How is your relationship after your loved one returned from war? Is your loved one the same person as before they left? Are YOU the same person since their return from deployment?

I have to be honest…My husband and I enjoyed so much before he left for Afghanistan; however, now things are different. Before he left for war, we used to love going out to the movies on Sunday afternoons and going on date nights. We enjoyed a variety of activities and spending time together— serving together in church, sneaking in moments of recreation to parks and taking walks. As for intimacy…well, let’s say it was not lacking.

But since he returned from war, our relationship has changed in a number of ways. We don’t communicate in the same way we used to. Now, we cannot be around people without my feeling very uncomfortable. I sometimes don’t know what to do or say around him that won’t trigger him. Before war, he was such a social person and welcomed the chance to walk up and start conversations with a stranger. Now, he prefers to isolate himself. There are some days when I feel frustrated and so very alone. If any of you have experienced issues in a love relationships with a combat veteran, I can likely identify with at least some of what you’ve gone through!

I tip toe around him to keep from setting him off, but I still end up setting him off because I still don’t know all his triggers.  I do not feel comfortable sharing all of the details. But, just know that every day is a new day. So, thankfully, through shared faith, therapy, retreats, persistence, and patience, my husband and I are learning how to communicate in new ways and are well on our way to an improved relationship since his return; for example, I’m learning better ways to communicate with him. What are some ways you communicate with your loved one? Are you learning new ways to enjoy each other’s company, to restructure your life together, in different ways?

CALL TO ACTION

One caregiver, I’ll call her Susan for confidentiality, found herself facing relationship problems after her husband returned from deployment; she could not handle the changes in her man, so she left him. I don’t advocate abandoning your loved one unless your life is in danger, but I admit that changes in relationships after deployment can be extremely challenging. No one can prepare you for the kinds of changes you might face, and you can’t be expected to deal with them effectively on your own, especially if you had little idea what the issues might be.

However, once you’re confronted with them, I highly recommend that you seek professional help for yourself, at least, and also for you and your loved one as a couple as soon as you recognize that problems exist. I can tell you from personal experience that not doing so could do a great disservice to your relationship, and can exacerbate any problems you have.

This is especially true if you have children at home, who also need to understand how to navigate changes in the family dynamics. You can find out about counseling options through your local Veterans Services office (VSO), your religious institution, your workplace, or network of family and friends. You’ll be glad you sought help. Also, I talk in a recently published blog post of Give An Hour, an organization that offers FREE counseling to those affected by war.

If you experienced challenges in your relationship after deployment, what did you do? How did you find help? Please know that I and my other readers can probably relate pretty darn well to what you are going through. I am not a therapist, and I don’t mean to diagnose or treat. I just want you to know that you are not alone. So many military caregivers have the same experiences—I have to keep telling myself that I am not the only one experiencing these issues.

I am encouraging caregivers to share personal stories (all names kept confidential), so please send me your story.  Feel free to reach out to me through my contact page/webmail on this page. If you choose to send your story, please keep it under 300 words. Or feel free to comment below and share your perspective. I would love to hear from you.

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