With a huge number of personnel being displaced from active service, there is an opportunity to open up to discussion the challenges these times bring for the servicemen or women – and the family unit.
When on deployment, relationships are challenged, that’s a given! Expectations and boundaries can become blurred and unclear, imagination for all can run amok around issues of trust, or some other past events.
One moment the non-service partner is ‘the boss’, accountable for everything it seems from the kids love, welfare, education, discipline and health – to – the domestic matters of running the home, looking after any pets, perhaps own job or career, whilst ‘owning’ that space, that environment in which the domestic unit is located.
Perhaps unsurprising then, each time the ‘deployed’ half returns, many emotions surface – for both!
The homemaker’s space is, well… invaded! With all the responsibilities of keeping a family and home came choices. When and what to eat, what time to sleep, what to watch, whether to socialise. Suddenly, those choices may become compromised out of consideration for the returner, because you are one half of a partnership again, and that can stink!
The serviceman or woman has more than enough emotional challenges to contend with too, which can fan any flames – clearly less than ideal if the relationship is already brittle!
Fatigue, emotional (and maybe physical wounds for the person serving their country) expectations will be high and hopes that were considered whilst away, will be bursting to be realised; how wonderful it will be to come home to those comforts of the domestic unit and the family and/or partner. The homemaker may also be anxious about how to be what they think their partner wants them to be, feeling perhaps that something for both is owed, but unclear exactly what, or why.
The above is the briefest resume of what may be uncovered and explored by couples and individuals who do take that leap of faith and seek some counselling/coaching/therapy (call it what you will) when finding the repetitive leaving and returning from deployment places too much strain on the relationship.
Perhaps then it is no surprise that when the service personnel are ‘discharged’, or leave of own volition, life, and the transition are anything but plain sailing.
All the above still remains an issue, and much more has to be re-established for the individuals, for the relationship, and for the family unit. What I have seen, however, is that when the ex-officer is empowered to make peace with their past, including pre-service life – they can begin to work through his/her expectations of themselves. They will also have expectations of others at home, in their daily civvy interactions such as with banks, stores (customer service particularly can be an issue), socially and in the workplace. Life is very different and expectations have to be recognised and perhaps re-evaluated.
After almost any period of years serving in a uniformed service, (and the same exists for non-military individuals who are also prone to suffer much of these challenges such as paramedics, police, firefighters, nursing etc), there is an inevitability for psychological turbulence to be experienced – and shared.
For the ex-personnel of a uniformed service, be that military or emergency services, experiences have been shared and those expectations created as a result; these can be as found from the initial training successes, the failures, the mistakes and events (be them dangerous, frightening, exciting, painful and/or celebratory). These are just a few of the examples of what helps to form the camaraderie, the ‘togetherness’, the safety and reliability that simply cannot be recognised on a daily basis by those who were not there!
It’s not their fault, but somehow, they ought to know what I’ve given, they ought to be treating me with respect, they need to behave better than that.
If you are struggling in your life, or relationships, following a period in a disciplined, uniformed profession… please share with someone impartial. Feeling that way is anything but a failure but making no effort to explore might be!
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).