A service member is hugged after returning from deployment

Common Relationship Challenges

Every couple is unique, but the challenges they face tend to be universal. A first step toward a healthy relationship is accepting that the road will not always be smooth. Recognizing those areas that need attention and knowing when to seek help will let you grow as a couple and forge a strong and enduring bond.

Common challenges for couples

Certain topics tend to cause issues for couples. Talking openly about these and other areas where you disagree can help you head off conflict.

  • Finances. Money is a common source of stress in relationships, so it’s important to make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to managing your finances. Learn about the many free resources available through the military to help you and your partner manage your money.
  • Trust. Trust in a partner can be shaken by any number of reasons. Infidelity is a big one, but even seemingly small betrayals like not following through with doing the dishes or being late for dinner can erode trust if it happens too much. Non-medical counseling through your installation or Military OneSource can help you and your partner rebuild your trust. Sessions are free and confidential.
  • Parenting. The best time to discuss how you will raise your children is before you become parents. But even when your parenting styles are in sync, conflicts are bound to arise once you have children. How you and your partner handle your disagreements is what’s important. Expert support and other free resources are available to help you and your partner build a strong family through every stage of parenting.
  • Major changes. A serious illness or disability can test any relationship. But even happy events such as a new baby can bring stress. Couples who learn resilience and flexibility work together as a team during good times and bad. Military OneSource specialty consultations can help you and your partner adjust to a new baby, care for an older relative, support a family member with special needs and more.
  • Mismatched responsibilities or priorities. It’s common for couples to fight when one partner feels overburdened with housework or is annoyed that the other spends too much time at work or on other activities. Talk through your feelings with an open mind. A non-medical counselor can help you and your partner aim for balance in your lives.

Common challenges for military couples

Military life brings additional challenges to couples, including:

  • Frequent separations. Deployments and temporary duty assignments mean that military members spend more time away from home than the average civilian. Missing important events like anniversaries and birthdays can be hard for both members of the couple. But the day-to-day absence can be just as rough, particularly if the partner at home is trying to manage household and other responsibilities alone. Being geographically separated can also bring up a host of other issues, including concerns about being faithful to one another. Personalized coaching through the Military OneSource Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation can help you and your partner stay connected while apart.
  • Permanent change of station moves. Moving every few years as a military couple can be exciting because you get to experience new places, but it can also be stressful. The work of packing up your home, feelings of loss as you say goodbye to your old community and anxiety about finding your way around a new one can affect your relationship. Prepare for your move using resources from Military OneSource. Learn about your new area with MiltaryINSTALLATIONS. Tap into free resources to make your PCS easier, including Plan My Move, an online tool that simplifies the moving process.
  • Transitions. Military life is full of them and many bring mixed emotions. Returning from deployment is joyous, but can strain your relationship as you get used to being together again. The Military OneSource Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation can help ease the stress of reconnecting after deployment. Leaving the military is a big change that affects both partners in a couple. Military OneSource also offers a specialty consultation to help service members transition smoothly to civilian life.

Getting help with relationship challenges

Asking for help through difficult times is a sign of strength. When you seek support as a couple, it signals to each other that your relationship is a priority and you are both willing to invest the time into making it thrive.

Non-medical counselors are professionals who understand the unique issues you face as a military couple. They will work with you individually or as a couple to help you develop the skills to build a strong relationship that will endure through life’s ups and downs. Non-medical counseling is free and confidential.

Connect with a non-medical counselor through your installation’s Military and Family Life Counseling Program, or by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. Sessions are available face-to-face, by phone or by secure video or online chat.