Tag Archives: military marriages

Support Military Marriages as Troops Return

As 40,000 U.S. military troops return home from war, the soldiers have many challenges with reintegration from jobs to dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, the military divorce rate has grown 42 percent since the start of the Afghan-Iraq wars began in 2001, according to Fox News.

In First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, I wrote about one couple (The Stoners) who experienced a year-long Iraq deployment and the resulting challenges that ensued. Thanks in part to an extremely supportive community and family, they maintained a strong marriage after the deployment and despite the challenges of reintegrating, which included changing roles for the parents and reconnecting with the four children.  The book includes many tips for helping with military separations and reintegrations, but today’s post is really about how we can support these military families.

Thousands of soldiers have endured more than one deployment with several years of separation from spouses and children. As they and others have attested, the happy reunions are buttressed with struggles. Dennis Rainey, CEO of FamilyLife, has written about how the anticipation and happiness of coming home is generally followed by a brief honeymoon period, but that the 90 days following are crucial for these military families.

“The most common pitfalls during this post-deployment period include maintaining unrealistic expectations, rushing the transition, renegotiating roles, and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Rainey. These couples need resources and support to help during the transition period.

If you know a military couple, offer to help in a tangible way, such as with babysitting, meals, yard work, assisting with a job search, or offering a supportive ear. If you don’t know of a military family to help, visit FinallyHometoFamily.org.

I would like to personally thank the soldiers or family members reading this for their service and sacrifice. It is my hope that our nation will welcome troops home with grace and generosity, and that we will all assist their families experience through a difficult transition.

Not all soldiers will come home in perfect health, unfortunately. A friend recently sent me a video of a police officer who was shot in the line of duty and how that has affected his family. It’s worth watching, and his recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Those who protect our nation both inside and outside of the U.S. deserve our support and encouragement.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope and Inspiration for your Marriage, available in print, Kindle, Nook, iBook, Sony and PDF versions.

Support Military Families & Marriages

I’m reposting this from January in honor of Memorial Day. Thanks to all our service men and women for their dedication and bravery. The Stoners also provided strategies for keeping their family strong during the deployment and reintegration. Share with military friends and family. Have a happy and safe weekend.

I was very fortunate to get to know a military couple from Zionsville, Indiana, named Timothy and Tiffany Stoner, who will be profiled in my upcoming book. Tiffany managed well during her husband’s deployment to Iraq. Meanwhile, Army National Guardsman Maj. Timonthy Stoner served valliantly as a commander and helicopter pilot of Indiana’s first Black Hawk unit, which rescued both injured soldiers and insurgents, at times coming under fire. (His unit saved 1,500 people during 1,000 combat missions and suffered no casualties.)

On the home front, despite having four young children to care for, including two infant twins, Tiffany focused on what she was grateful for during Tim’s absence and developed some very useful strategies for maintaining a positive attitude. She also benefited from a large support network of friends, family and neighbors who continually helped her and her family. When Tim and his unit returned home after nearly a year (see family picture by Nathan Rowe), they had a renewed sense of appreciation for one another and for their family.

Unfortunately, this family’s success isn’t always the case. A new study from Washington says women whose husbands were deployed have higher rates of mental illness than other military wives. “There’s a very clear relationship between the deployment and these mental health diagnoses in these women,” said the study’s lead author, Alyssa Mansfield.

For women whose husbands were deployed 11 months or longer, their wives had a 24 percent higher rate of depression. This isn’t very surprising when you place yourselves in the position of a woman, likely with children, who is concerned every day of every month for the safety of her beloved spouse and the father of her children. In addition, she essentially becomes a single parent with all the stress that entails. It’s amazing that some women don’t get depressed, actually.

It really puts in perspective the small things we complain about in our home lives when we consider the challenges these military families face daily. The soldier isn’t the only one deployed on an unknown mission; the spouse and children face intense pressures and fears. My family sends our thoughts and prayers for the soldiers and families regularly. Also, remember that some of the spouses left behind are men; they need your support as well.

If you know a military family, offer your support in concrete ways, such as mowing the yard in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter, or offer to babysit or run errands so the spouse can get a break. Invite him or her over for a cup of coffee, and listen to what they are going through.

The Stoners maintained a blog during the deployment and have recently compiled posts and reflections, along with photos by Nathan Rowe, into a book called “FamilyPrint: A Family’s Unique Reflections During War.” For details, go to FamilyPrint.org.

Do you have any military friends or family you want to encourage? Feel free to praise them here on this blog, or send them a personal note of thanks. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Tim Stoner with his son, Briggs, then 7. Photos by Nathaniel Edmunds Photography.