Strengthen Your Coping Skills With Building Healthy Relationships Specialty Consultations

Couple stand in airplane hanger

Current as of Nov. 6, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has upended lives everywhere. Staying home and away from usual support systems can challenge even the strongest relationships.

If your family is feeling the strain, Military OneSource can help. Our Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer coaching sessions, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques.

Individual tracks are available by phone and video to improve connections with your children, your partner and others during these uncertain times.

Cope With Stress as a Couple

The COVID-19 pandemic can strain even the strongest relationship. Review our guide for ways to cope.

Specialty consultations for all of your important relationships

The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer a variety of tracks that are customized to different relationships. When you call Military OneSource to arrange a specialty consultation, your consultant will help you identify the track — or tracks — that are right for you.

  • Building Healthy Relationships with Your Significant Other. This track includes personalized coaching sessions, educational resources, guidance and tools to support a stronger partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  • Healthy Parent-Child Connections. You will work with a consultant to identify goals for your relationship with your child. Your consultant will also give you education and resources to enhance your bond. If appropriate, your child may attend sessions with you.
  • Communication Refreshers. Good communication is at the heart of healthy relationships. This track focuses on improving the way you communicate with others and is helpful for couples, as well. It offers educational webinars, inventories and services.
  • Staying Connected While Away. If you’re away from your partner or family during the pandemic, this track might be right for you. A consultant can help you identify goals and resources to help you cope emotionally and stay connected with your loved ones.
  • Blended Family. This track focuses on co-parenting when you and your partner have children from previous relationships. It may be especially helpful for those who are learning new family roles at the same time their children are feeling isolated due to school closures and other precautions.
  • MilSpouse Toolkit. If you are a new military spouse away from your family and support system, this track may help. It can help you adjust to the military lifestyle, develop coping skills and identify resources in your new community.
  • Reconnecting After Deployment. A major shift can occur for the entire family when a service member returns from deployment. Coming home amid the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic may cause additional strain. This track can help you identify goals for this reintegration period. It also includes materials that can ease stress and boost your family’s resilience.

Healthy Relationships resources

Find information and tools to keep your relationship strong.

Call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat to schedule an appointment with a Building Healthy Relationships consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Relationship Support for Military Couples

couple looks out over bay

When you are part of a military couple, you and your partner share the pride, benefits and challenges of service. Permanent change of station moves mean you get to experience new parts of the country and world. But these frequent moves can also bring stress. Deployments allow the service member to put their training into practice, but being far from home can be hard on a relationship.

Fortunately, couples counseling and many other free and confidential resources are available to help you and your partner build a relationship that can thrive amid these and other challenges.

Expert help for military couples

Free and confidential non-medical counseling and other programs provide professional support for military couples with relationship concerns.

  • Non-medical counseling. You and your partner don’t have to figure it out on your own. Talk to someone who understands military life and its unique challenges. Non-medical counselors are experienced professionals who are available through:
  • Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations. These consultations include coaching sessions, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques. Consultations are available as specific tracks that focus on the area of your relationship that needs attention. The tracks include:
    • Building Healthy Relationships With Your Significant Other. This track targets the common issues military couples face and provides tools to support a strong relationship.
    • Communication Refreshers. You and your partner will be given the resources to improve the way you communicate.
    • Staying Connected While Away. You and your partner will learn ways to stay close and cope with being apart during deployments and other separations.
    • Reconnecting After Deployment. This track is tailored to the period of reintegration after a deployment.

Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations are available by phone or video by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

Virtual resources for military couples

These free tools and resources are available to you and your partner 24/7, on your own schedule.

No relationship is perfect. But with attention and a commitment to one another, you and your partner can build a foundation strong enough to weather any challenge while providing you both with a source of happiness and fulfillment.

Reconnecting With Your Partner at Home

Couple connecting at home

A romantic getaway may seem like the perfect way to reconnect as a couple. But, that’s not always possible – and even if it were, it may not be the answer you’re both hoping for.

A more lasting solution is to look for opportunities to grow closer in your everyday interactions. Practice mutual respect, carve out time for one another, tune in more closely to each other’s needs. These and other simple ways to express love and affection for one another will strengthen your relationship.

Seeing each other’s side and managing your expectations

A first step toward reconnecting with your partner is to open up to each other and to be honest with yourself. As a couple, you can use these insights to forge a deeper connection based on mutual understanding. Here’s where to start:

  • Check your expectations against reality. Examine each other’s ideas of how your relationship should be. Where did those expectations come from? Are they realistic? Accept that no relationship is perfect all the time. Relationships also naturally change and evolve. The romance in its early stages may deepen into a reliable partnership that can be equally fulfilling, if not more. It may be time to update your expectations.
  • Stand in each other’s shoes. It can be truly eye-opening to hear each other’s perspective. It’s important in all relationships, but particularly for military couples when one partner is new to military life. For example, the demands of a service member’s job may make it impossible to have dinner together every night or talk on the phone whenever you want. By listening to each other’s needs and responsibilities, you will develop a greater awareness of and appreciation for each other. You may even be able to come up with creative ways to meet halfway, such as having breakfast together each morning or checking in during a scheduled break.
  • Avoid angrily criticizing each other. This will put each other on the defensive and shut down communication. Instead, name the specific action that bothers you and how it makes you feel. Then work together toward a solution that will work for both of you.

Ways to connect at home

No matter how busy you get, it’s essential that you and your partner make time for each other. Here are ideas for keeping your relationship fresh and meaningful.

  • Describe your perfect date together. Write down or tell each other in great detail what your ideal date would be like, right down to your outfits. Describe the setting, how you will get there and what you will do when you’re there.
  • Have a date night. You probably won’t be able to pull off your fantasy date, but you can aim for the emotional connection it would create. Plan a special night at home if going out is impossible. If you have children, ask a neighbor or friend to watch them for a few hours. Put away your phones, so you can focus on each other. Have a special meal, watch a movie. Dance. Do what makes you both happy.
  • Ask each other 20 questions. It doesn’t have to be 20, but there are probably many things you don’t know about each other. Do you know your partner’s favorite movie? Favorite recording artist? What would each other’s superpower be and why that one? The questions are endless and can open up new insights into one another.
  • Exercise together. Run, bike, hike, lift weights, sign up for an online fitness class together. Encourage each other and have fun together.
  • Go on a walk. Try to fit walks into your regular routine with your partner, even if it means getting up early. If you have young children, bring them along. Walking reduces stress and can lead to great conversations.
  • Take a long drive together. The car is another good setting for conversation. Enjoy the scenery outside your windows while catching up with each other.
  • Share your favorite childhood foods. Incorporate family recipes into your meals or order regional treats online. This is a good way to learn about each other and share an important part of your personal histories.
  • Take a class together. Experience the excitement of learning something new together. If you can’t get out, sign up for an online class. You should be able to find whatever you are interested in online, from cooking or learning a new language, to dance or drawing.

Resources for connecting with your partner

The Department of Defense, through Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling program, offers resources to help service members and their partners reconnect at home.

  • The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultation is a free and confidential series of personalized coaching sessions to help you deepen your relationships. The Building Healthy Relationships with Your Significant Other track focuses on issues common to military couples.
  • Non-medical counseling is another option available to couples or individuals. Free and confidential sessions with a Military and Family Life counselor are available on your installation. Military OneSource also offers non-medical counseling.
  • The Love Every Day app is a fun way to practice your relationship communication skills and rekindle your romance.
  • Visit the Re the We page on Military OneSource for access to articles, tools and resources to rekindle, repair or reset your relationship.

Military OneSource is there for you 24/7 to help you and your partner thrive in your relationship. Call 800-342-9647 to connect with a consultant. OCONUS? Use these international calling options

Tips for Communicating in a Long-Distance Relationship

Service member and girlfriend get photo taken before deployment

Long-distance relationships are a challenge that many military couples face at some point in their relationship. Being apart from your loved one can create anxiety, sadness, even trust issues. But the separation can also bring couples closer, particularly if both partners set expectations and find ways to stay connected. With planning and commitment, you and your partner can keep your relationship strong while apart.

Plan ahead for staying in touch

The best time to talk about how you will stay connected during your geographic separation is while you are still together.

  • Set expectations about how you will stay in touch and how often. What works best for you as a couple? Phone calls, video chats, email, text, letters? A combination? How often will you call or write? Factor in your other commitments and activities so you don’t overpromise and risk disappointing each other or adding stress to your lives.
  • Agree on a time to speak with each other that works for both of you. Different time zones can make this tricky. One of you may be starting your day while the other is ending theirs.
  • Prepare yourselves for the unknown. It’s possible that you won’t know much about your communication options ahead of time. Wi-Fi may be spotty or nonexistent in the area where the service member will be. Mail or email service may be limited. Mission requirements may make communication impossible for days or longer. Discuss these very real possibilities so you won’t be caught off guard.
  • Pick a time each day to focus your thoughts on the other. Play the same song, if possible – maybe as one of you is drifting off to sleep and the other is starting the day if you’re in different time zones. This can be reassuring when communication isn’t possible.
  • Hide notes for each other to find during your geographic separation. Tuck little messages into gear, books, clothing, or in unexpected places around the home.

Nurturing your long-distance relationship

It takes effort to maintain closeness when you are physically distant from each other. But gestures, small and large, can feel particularly meaningful when you are missing your loved one.

  • Plan ahead for birthdays and anniversaries so cards or gifts arrive on time.
  • Be there for each other emotionally. Keep track of what is happening in your partner’s life so you can check in after a big day or send virtual, reassuring hugs when needed.
  • Keep each other up to date on new developments in your lives. Talk about friends you’ve made, interests you’ve developed, new favorite foods. Passing along these types of details will make reintegration easier when you are together again.
  • Try to keep your conversations positive. Don’t hide your struggles, but don’t let them dominate conversations either. Positive communication during deployment is linked to less anxiety among military couples on return.
  • Deal with challenges constructively as they come up. Address issues right away before they become bigger problems down the road. Doing this also makes the adjustment smoother when you are back together.
  • Know when to pull back a bit. There’s such a thing as being in touch too often. If phone calls or video chats begin to feel burdensome or you are struggling to find things to talk about, speak less frequently. This will help keep your conversations fresh and your time reconnecting will feel more special.
  • Have shared experiences. Read the same book or watch the same movie and compare notes later. Play an online game together. Listen to the same playlist. Having shared experiences brings couples closer together.

Resources for staying close while apart

The Department of Defense, through Military OneSource, offers resources for military couples coping with a geographic separation.

  • Strengthen your relationship with the Building Healthy Relationships Staying Connected While Away specialty consultation. A consultant will meet with you by phone or video to help with emotional coping and staying connected.
  • Get expert help with non-medical counseling when you need more support than friends and family can provide. Non-medical counseling is free and confidential and available wherever in the world you are.
  • Tap into the Love Every Day app to practice your relationship communication skills and kindle your romance.
  • Visit the Re the We page on Military OneSource for access to articles, tools and resources to rekindle, repair or reset your relationship.

Military OneSource is there for you 24/7 to help with relationship issues and other concerns. Call 800-342-9647 to connect with a consultant. OCONUS? Use these international calling options.

Relationship Support for Your Service Member

young couple sitting in a park

Although everyone hopes for a happily-ever-after romance, all couples are bound to experience conflict from time to time. Military couples in particular have unique pressures that most civilians do not have to deal with. In fact, relationship issues are the top reason service members and their families seek non-medical counseling support through Military OneSource.

Couples can strengthen their partnership by enhancing communication skills, addressing challenges early, learning how to resolve their differences and developing healthy relationship habits.

If your service member is having relationship problems or is trying to pick up the pieces after a breakup, help is available.

The importance of addressing relationship stress

An unhappy relationship can affect every aspect of a person’s life, including their physical and mental health. Studies show that people live longer, healthier lives when they have positive emotional connections. For service members, relationship issues can affect readiness by making it difficult to stay focused on the mission at hand.

Not everybody is willing to seek help, however. As a friend or family member, you can let your service member know that it’s not only OK to reach out for support, it’s a sign of strength. Share a time when you were in a similar situation. This will help your loved one understand that problems like theirs are not uncommon. Talk about the ways you and your partner repaired your relationship. Or if your efforts weren’t successful, mention how tapping into available resources might have helped.

Help for Relationship Stress

Your service member and their partner can seek help at any stage of their relationship, whether they are just starting out or have been together for many years. Resources for service members include:

  • Non-medical counseling. Non-medical counselors are experienced professionals who understand the unique issues service members and their partners face. They will meet with couples or individuals face-to-face, or by phone, online chat or video. Sessions are free and confidential.
  • Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations. These consultations focus on the area of a relationship that needs attention. Common issues military couples may seek assistance for include communication refreshers, reconnecting after deployment and staying connected while away. The sessions include coaching, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques. The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations are free and confidential.
  • Love Every Day. This interactive tool helps couples practice their communication skills in only a few minutes each day. 
  • Marriage enrichment programs for military couples. Each military service branch offers programs designed to enrich marriage by helping couples develop their communication skills and rekindle their romance. These programs are either low-cost or free.
     

If your service member or their partner feels unsafe in a relationship, they can reach out to the Family Advocacy Program or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-787-7224.

Your service member can learn more by contacting Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. International calling options are available for those outside the continental United States.  
 

 

Although everyone hopes for a happily-ever-after romance, all couples are bound to experience conflict from time to time. Military couples in particular have unique pressures that most civilians do not have to deal with. In fact, relationship issues are the top reason service members and their families seek non-medical counseling support through Military OneSource.

Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19

Hands passing ID card

Current as of Sept. 16, 2020


Department of Defense Commitment

The DOD is committed to protecting the nation’s security as well as your safety and that of your family. This includes temporarily updating issuance and renewal processes for ID cards and CACs to ensure your continued access to health care and other benefits during this time of increased precaution and restrictions.

Your military benefits, like access to commissaries and exchanges and health care, tie into your military identification card. With current stay-at-home orders in place in most areas because of coronavirus disease 2019, you may be wondering how military ID, Common Access Card and Volunteer Logical Access Credentials issuance and renewal will work.

Review the following details to learn about the temporary updates (in place through June 30, 2021) that change issuance and renewal processes during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewing military ID cards (expiring on or after Jan. 1, 2020)

The DOD has expanded online ID card renewals and reissuances, enrollment and eligibility updates, and replacement of lost or stolen cards for military and their family members through June 30, 2021. Other updates continuing through June 30, 2021, include:

  • Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance or schedule an appointment to renew your ID card or get a replacement if it is lost or stolen. Note that cards that are remotely issued from online application will have an expiration date of one year from the date of issuance.
  • Use your ID card if you are a mobilized reserve member, so you can continue to receive active-duty benefits for yourself and your eligible family members.
  • Use your ID card if your eligibility has not changed, and your ID is due to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020. Your benefits are secure through June 30, 2021.
  • Do not use your ID card if your eligibility has ended. The DOD will verify your eligibility electronically before taking away an expired ID card with an expiration date on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

If your status is listed in the Individuals column of the following chart, you are eligible to continue using your current military ID while you take the step(s) noted to renew your ID card that is set to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

Individuals Impact to Benefits Steps to Take
Sponsors and dependents turning age 65 You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B for continued benefits.
  1. Check milConnect to see whether Medicare Part B has been reported.
  2. Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment in Medicare Part B
Dependents turning age 21 You must be enrolled as a full-time student, be approved as an incapacitated dependent or be registered for TRICARE Young Adult for continued eligibility.
  1. Students, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment as a full-time student
  2. Incapacitated dependents, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Medical Sufficiency Statement
    3. Financial Dependency Determination
  3. TRICARE Young Adult, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Proof of enrollment in TRICARE Young Adult
Guard and reserve members and dependents Benefits for National Guard and reserve members and their dependents are tied to the member’s active-duty status. If the member’s active-duty status is extended, benefits are extended as well.
  1. If active-duty status is extended, no action is needed.
  2. If active-duty status is completed:
    1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.
Retiring service members and dependents Benefits for members who are retiring and their dependents are tied to the member’s status.
  1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.

Common Relationship Challenges

A service member is hugged after returning from deployment

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.

Marriage Enrichment Programs

Service member puts money in her husband’s “love bank” basket at a marriage retreat

With deployments and frequent relocations, military relationships can be put to the test. You’ve aced military life. Now can you bring that same strength and sense of adventure to your marriage?

You can access free, confidential, relationship consultation services like Building Healthy Relationships as well as non-medical counseling through Military OneSource. Call 800-342-9647 or chat online with our trained professional consultants. Also, each military service branch offers programs designed to enrich marriage and maintain a healthy relationship by helping couples develop better communication skills and rekindle the romance. These programs are generally:

  • Run by chaplains and supported by commanders, Military and Family Support Centers, and installation family readiness programs
  • Non-faith-specific
  • Either low-cost or free to service members and spouses

To find out about programs available through your service branch and installation, check with your chaplain or local Military and Family Support Center. Through the center, Military and Family Life Counselors are available on installations and embedded in units. Here are some service-specific programs.

Army
Installation chaplains offer the Strong Bonds Program. The program features:

  • Weekend retreats that help couples build relationship resiliency
  • Specific retreats for couples, families, single soldiers and for those facing deployment
  • Activities for unit members who are on the same duty cycle

Marine Corps
The Marine Corps offers the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program. This program:

  • Benefits newlyweds and seasoned couples alike
  • Helps couples improve their communication skills and build strong relationships
  • Offers workshops through chaplains and Marine Corps Family Team Building

Navy
Chaplains Religious Enrichment Development Operations offer marriage enrichment retreats. More information is available on the Navy’s ChaplainCare website. These getaways include:

  • Weekend retreats that help couples focus on their relationships while enjoying food, fun and romance
  • The opportunity for couples to learn about handling conflict, growing their marriage, building intimacy, communication and understanding each other

Air Force
The Air Force Chaplain Corps offers the MarriageCare program. Check with your installation’s chaplain to see what’s available in your area. The MarriageCare program offers:

  • Weekend retreats to help couples to revitalize their marriage while taking a break from military duty
  • A chance to work on communication, forgiveness and other skills
  • Other programs offered by chaplains on Air Force installations

Online tools: Love Every Day

Does daily communication with your partner mostly involve texts? It might be time for a new way to communicate.

Take a few minutes to connect in a fun and meaningful way using Love Every Day. This free interactive tool for your mobile phone prompts you and your partner, via text, to connect in new ways. Both partners answer one question each day for 21 days. Check out the video (streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.)

Questions can focus on what you love about one another, provide you with new ways to get to know each other, share thoughts and memories, and show you care in fun ways. Log in, live in the moment and spark some fun with Love Every Day.

MilSpouse Toolkit

From education on military culture to navigating resources, this track is beneficial for new spouses who may be experiencing a disconnect from their family and need to identify a support system in their new community. This track focuses resources to assist new and current military spouses with adjustment to the military lifestyle, developing coping skills and resources for resiliency.