Many life stressors stem from relationships. Relationship and marital problems leading to distress and other issues may result from difficulties in communication, parenting, sexual intimacy, or finances.
There is a tendency among some supervisors and commands not to interfere in a Sailor's personal life. Experience suggests however, that relationship problems can quickly interfere with duty performance. Relationship problems have been identified as a significant risk factor associated with suicide in the Navy and Marine Corps.
One of the most challenging life difficulties is divorce. Divorce is not a single event but a series of transitions and individual and family reorganizations. A divorce inevitably brings about a number of changes that range from emotional to economic. Changes occur in family relationships, standards of living, residences, and friends. The process of adjusting to these changes is stressful for families. In addition, most children experience considerable distress in the early stages of a divorce.
Individuals can experience a wide range of reactions to divorce. Some see divorce as a failure and may experience depression. Others may have to cope with a loss of security. For others, divorce is a release from the burdens and frustrations of constant tension. The legal process itself can be long and frustrating and contribute to feelings of stress. Coupled with this is the potential loss of property and financial stability. People experiencing a divorce may also face the following:
- Denial ("I can’t believe this is happening").
- Loss of friends
- Feelings of guilt
- Diminished self worth
- Diminished trust in others
- Fear of the unknown
- Financial losses
What Leaders Can Do
From a leadership perspective there are a number of actions to take:
- Make it clear that you value healthy relationships.
- Be familiar with the impact conflicted and broken relationships, including divorce, can have on health.
- Ask if there is anything you can do to help.
- Encourage peers to stay engaged and provide social support.
- Be alert to the possibility of increased risk for domestic violence.
- Have family and marital health as an occasional emphasis item for CO ’s call or unit meetings.
- Encourage preventive measures, such as couple’s therapy or talking with a chaplain.
Resources Available with People Experiencing Relationship Problems
For struggling couples who would like to give their relationship a second chance, identifying the root of the problem is crucial. Community resources are often helpful, including seeing a marriage counselor, chaplain, or financial counselor.
Services on Base May Include:
- Pre-marital workshops.
- Relationship enhancement classes.
- Family Advocacy Programs for prevention and intervention related to emotional/physical abuse.
- Chaplain for counseling and support related to relationship difficulties.
- Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) for individual or couples therapy.
- Mental Health for Individual Therapy
- Military One Source
Other Sources of Support Include:
- Community-based support groups where personal difficulties can be shared with others experiencing similar problems.
- Rebuilding one’s faith. Many churches, synagogues and other religious organizations are actively concerned for the needs of people in the divorce process. Learning to adjust to a crisis can be enhanced through a spiritual process.
- Social activities, sports, and academic endeavors provide opportunities for building new friendships.