For service members, a loving, resilient relationship is both a matter of personal happiness and family readiness. When family relationships are strong and healthy, service members are better able to focus on their mission and their day-to-day duty requirements. Even if you have a good relationship with your partner now, good relationships can often be even better, and great ones generally need care and attention to stay that way. There are many things you can do, from making time to talk to planning regular date nights, to make your relationship loving and lasting. Read on to learn how to make your relationship thrive.
Communication and relationship maintenance
- Make time to talk. Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Set aside time to talk to your partner with no distractions. If you need to broach a sensitive topic, try using "I" statements, such as "I feel upset when you don't thank me for doing all the laundry," instead of "You're ungrateful for everything I do around here. You didn't even notice that all of your shirts were clean and pressed when you got home."
- Practice active listening. When you and your partner are having a discussion, repeat back to them what they are saying in your own words to avoid miscommunications. For example, if your partner says "Why can't you ever take the trash out? I hate that you're so sloppy!" You could respond with "What I am hearing is that you want me to take the trash out and help more with household cleaning. Is that what you mean?" This gives your partner the opportunity to either agree with you or correct your interpretation of what was said.
- Never stop dating each other. Hectic work schedules, raising kids and household duties can sometimes crowd out personal time. Schedule regular dates with your partner so that you have some quality time alone with one another.
- Show your partner respect. Even when you disagree on things, try not to raise your voice or say hurtful things. It's OK to take a time out if you get too upset to communicate effectively. Actively listen to your partner's needs and address them.
- Acknowledge what your partner is doing for you and your family. Thank your partner frequently for things done around the house and for the family. This encouragement will foster your relationship and encourage your partner to continue doing all of these helpful things.
Deciding to be out or not
With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation in 2011 and the recent Supreme Court decision allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage, lesbian and gay service members can now serve openly and have equal access to benefits. Although there are no repercussions to being out in the military, some service members may fear discrimination. Coming out is a very personal decision that you should make with your partner. Is it important to your partner to be a part of your professional identity as well as your personal life? Will you want them to attend military events where guests are allowed? How much of your family life do you want to disclose to your co-workers? Read more about coming out on Military OneSource.
All service members should expect to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation. The military services are committed to promoting an environment free from discrimination, harassment and abuse. If you are a lesbian or gay service member and feel you have been a target for harassment or abuse, you may file a complaint through your chain of command or through your service's Equal Opportunity office.
For more relationship resources for couples, visit Military OneSource.