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Four Tips for Couple Communication during Deployment


Nichols, Lucy, Military REACH, Research Team


The transitional stages of deployment, beginning with the anticipation of the departure and spanning the duration of the deployment through reintegration, are accompanied by a series of adjustments that influence family relationships, specifically couple relationships. Communication is key to navigating these transitional periods; however, knowing what to talk about during deployment can be tricky. Hopefully these four tips can help you navigate communication with your service member during deployment. 1. Talk about day-to-day activities via phone and video calls During deployment, conversations regarding the dayto- day happenings may allow service members to feel more involved in their partners’ or families’ life, and ultimately lead to a smooth transition during reintegration. 2. Send love letters to your partner Letter writing can be a more private and intimate way to communicate and initiate emotional connection. Writing love letters also provides a tangible connection between partners (e.g., we are thousands of miles apart but we both held this letter) and allows an individual the opportunity to continually re-read the affectionate words from their partner 3. Discuss problems through letter writing Through this form of communication, the author may be able to think through the problems they want to discuss in a more thoughtful and productive manner. 4. Create a flexible (and creative!) communication plan Openly discussing and establishing communication goals before deployment and being willing to adapt during deployment tends to increase relationship satisfaction and reduce communication frustration. Get creative with your communication! For example, you might each watch the same movie and then swap movie reviews via call or letter. The goal is to communicate and maintain your connection. Carter, S. P., Osborne, L. J., Renshaw, K. D., Allen, E. S., Loew, B. A., Markman, H. J., & Stanley, S. M. (2018). Something to talk about:Topics of conversation between romantic partners during military deployments. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(1), 22–30. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000373 Clark, M. A., O’Neal, C. W., Conley, K. M., & Mancini, J. A. (2018). Resilient family processes, personal reintegration, and subjective wellbeingoutcomes for military personnel and their family members. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88, 99-111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ort0000278

Publication Type:

Monthly Topic

Author Affiliation:

Research Associate, Military REACH

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