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How to Support Your Spouse During a Transition in 4 Steps

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How to Support Your Spouse During a Transition in 4 Steps Military Marine CorpsMilitary life is all about transitions. Between different duty stations. Between different ranks. Between different countries and states and cities. Between different life events—marriage, children, deaths. We transition into the lifestyle and eventually will leave or retire… and transition out of it.

Transition times can be difficult on even the strongest relationships. When both spouses feel strained and stressed (and let’s not even add children or pets to the mix). But it is possible to support your spouse during transition times and end up stronger than before. (And don’t get me wrong—this is advice for both partners in the relationship because transitions affect both sides, not just one.)

Show Gratitude

When things are crazy, we can forget about even the simplest things, including what our spouse is dealing with. Take time to thank your wife for running out and grabbing a pizza the night before a PCS or your husband for proofing your resume for the billionth time before you submit a round of job applications. An unexpected email with a note of thanks or a card can speak volumes.

What this looks like:

  • “Thanks for…”
  • “I appreciate it when you…”
  • “You’re the best at…”
  • “You make my/our lives easier by…”

Show Affection

Similar to showing gratitude, showing affection at unexpected times is a great way to say, “I’m here for you.” Affection doesn’t have to be physical either. While a kiss or massage is fantastic, there are times when that’s just not possible. During a deployment or separation, taking extra time to show the affection you can’t in person can be exceptionally important.

What this looks like:

  • An unexpected gift
  • Bringing dinner home or doing something else to make life easier for your spouse
  • Kissing, hand-holding, back rubs, etc.
  • “You look beautiful/handsome…”

Slow Everything Down

Often, transitions bring a laundry list Together, create a to-do list or plan of action, rather than just putting out fires as they appear. Doing this together will not only make sure that both of you are on the same page but will also relieve tension and frustration between the two of you in the long run.

What this looks like:

  • “Let’s sit down and figure this out.”
  • A co-created plan on the fridge
  • A deployment/PCS/transition binder
  • Sharing all important information, dates, etc.

Affirm Their Feelings

Transitions can dredge up a lot of feelings, concerns, and worries. Even if your family has PCS’ed ten times before or has dealt with a similar transition, don’t assume that your spouse is “fine.” Keep your eyes peeled and ears open. If your spouse mentions worries or concerns to you, listen and validate them. Avoid cutting the conversation short, reaching for your phone, or doing other things when your spouse brings his/her concerns to you.

What this looks like:

  • “I understand why that makes you worried/upset/frustrated. How can we fix it?”
  • “Your concerns are important to me.”
  • “We’re in this together, but I also worry about…”
  • “You can always let me know what’s bothering you.”

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Jo My Gosh writer and military spouseJo is the author of Jo, My Gosh! a blog about her journey as a newlywed military wife. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching. Catch her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and say hi!

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