4. Time your arguments
Ask yourself this: “Is now really the right time to tell him I can’t stand the fact that he leaves his shoes scattered throughout the house?” If your spouse is under a lot of stress or having a bad day, do you really need to bring up whatever is bothering you at that exact moment?
Likewise, if you and your spouse are currently separated by distance, time your arguments. If you have limited time to talk, you shouldn’t dive into a heavy subject when you know you won’t have time to resolve the issue. There are few things worse than sleepless nights in a combat zone. If your spouse is deployed and already feeling alone, you don’t need to isolate him or her further. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honest about your feelings, it just means you need to find the right time to discuss problems.
So, when is the right time? The right time is a moment you’re both calm and have the time needed to resolve issues. That means after your children are in bed or while you’re out together. And never when alcohol is involved. Consider the possible outcomes of your discussion, present your arguments in a clear manner, and stay calm. Take a deep breath and let the conversation begin. If the argument at hand becomes too emotional, agree to take a timeout and revisit the issue later.
5. Ask the tough questions & give honest answers
Modern Love columnist and editor Daniel Jones wrote, “…marriage can also get boring, punctuated with deadening routines, cyclical arguments, and repetitive conversations.” Been there, done that. We all recognize the potential to turn our marriage into this type of experience.
That’s something many can relate too, but few are brave enough to admit. Having a healthy, solid relationship means having tough conversations and being honest. It can be scary to ask, but sometimes one just needs to come out and say, “Why don’t you look at me like you love me anymore?”
Waiting for the answer can fill your stomach with knots, but getting an answer is the best step toward fixing the problem. Oftentimes, arguments and hurt feelings come down to miscommunication and misguided anger. The stress of a deployment can cause a spouse to lash out at his or her spouse, when in reality that stress would be better aimed at a counselor, physical exercise, or positive social events.
Take time to discover the questions you want to ask your spouse and actually ask them. And if you’re the one facing tough questions – you owe it to your spouse and yourself to provide honest answers. If your husband looks you in the eye and asks, “Do you still love me?” If the answer isn’t 100% yes, be honest. Explain why your feelings have evolved and how the two of you can get back on track.
6. Don’t be afraid to call in a third party
Asking for help is never a sign of weakness; it is truly a sign of strength. Having the ability to admit you cannot fix a problem on your own shows you’re willing to fight to keep what you have. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to talk with a counselor, as many service members still think seeking help from a counselor has a stigma.
Finding a third party you both trust can be as simple as calling a friend to help mediate a conversation, reaching out to a Family Readiness Officer or calling on a priest or other spiritual leader. If your spouse refuses to seek help, consider writing your feelings down in separate rooms, exchanging the letters, and taking a day to think about what the other had to say. After letting your feeling soak in, you may be able to calmly revisit the issues at hand. But remember, if you aren’t honest about your emotion, you’ll only bury the feelings that should be dealt with now and risk having larger problems in the future.
If you liked this, check out A New Wife’s Plea