Life following military service is incredibly complicated. Many veterans are accustomed to military lifestyles, values, and schedules. Thus, transitioning into civilian life can be exceptionally difficult. This can be further complicated as veterans explore how to rebuild relationships with their families after prolonged time on active duty on tour. However, there are always strategies that veterans can use to rebuild relationships with family in civilian life.
The Need to Rebuild Relationships
Veterans adjusting to civilian and family life takes time, and it is normal for there to be a number of hurdles for veterans and their families to overcome. For veterans themselves, there can be feelings of “lost time,” where an individual’s absence is felt. Further, traumatic experiences from serving in the line of duty can further compromise these challenges, with trauma, mental health disorders, and even substance use in veteran life making it even more difficult for veterans to return to being the spouse or parent they were before going on tour.
Changing interests in veterans and their family members can further add to this schism as veterans not only must adjust to their own civilian lives but also how their families may have changed in their absence. This can not only lead to intense feelings of isolation in veterans but can further make for a tumultuous transition to civilian and family life, with new dynamics needing to be established. Making an effort to rebuild relationships is paramount not only for the health of veterans but for entire military families.
Preparing to Rebuild Relationships in Family Life
Knowing the challenges ahead can help veterans better prepare for the stresses of rebuilding relationships and empower veterans and their families to pursue education and proven strategies to aid in this time of change.
As with all populations in recovery, the needs of veterans continue to evolve over time. For more details, call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.More info
Understanding the Inevitability of Change
While it can be tempting to want to pick up immediately where veterans left off before going on tour, this can be an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation. There will be some degree of change that comes with the passing of time, and family members may have changed during this time. Spouses may have taken up new interests, and children may have grown out of previous hobbies and personality traits and developed new ones with age. Likewise, new household rules, dynamics, or freedoms may also be instilled.
Veterans trying to rebuild relationships with their spouses will also need to adjust to these changes and be prepared to be flexible to these new aspects of family life. This is especially prevalent if there are children involved. Veterans may have to adjust parenting styles and allow for more freedoms for children in order to effectively set back into a parental role, even if it means relinquishing some elements of previous parenting choices.
Rebuilding relationships takes time, as does exploring the changes that each veteran will have to make in their own daily life. Expecting families to adjust immediately to a veteran returning home can set unrealistic expectations, and even compromise otherwise effective approaches to a healthy transition. It is okay for there to be some turbulence during this transition time. Likewise, it is important to be patient as all parties make the necessary adjustments for a healthy and sustainable family life.
Being patient also means respecting the boundaries of others and setting boundaries for oneself to best adjust to the situation. Respecting personal space, engaging in self-care, and allowing family members to tend to their own established routines are all important factors in a healthy transition.
Focus on Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of all kinds of relationships, and being willing to communicate with the family is paramount. This does not just mean being willing to talk about personal needs but also actively listening to family members and their challenges. Being open about one’s emotional and personal needs and respecting the needs of others all make up the foundation of an effective communication strategy for families. Working with professionals and family programs can instill the necessary strategies for healthy communication.
Using New Traditions to Rebuild Relationships
Picking back up exactly where a person left off can be incredibly difficult. Rather, it can be more effective to create new traditions rather than latch on to past traditions that may no longer hold the same efficacy. Some new family traditions may include:
- Family game nights
- Movie nights
- Consistent family dinners
- Weekend activities together
- Exploring new experiences together
Making an effort to involve the family as much as possible during the traditions can help to rebuild relationships effectively during this time and set a new tone for these relationships in veteran life.
Tend to Personal Needs
Making an effort to rebuild relationships in veteran life is important. However, veterans must also continue to tend to their own needs, especially if they are addressing addiction, trauma, or PTSD stemming from their time in service. Hawaii Island Recovery can offer veterans and their families effective and personalized treatment to address the needs of veterans and provide familial education throughout this time. Likewise, Hawaii Island Recovery also curates a community of veteran peers to help those making the transition tend to personal needs and connect with others who have navigated the complexities of this transition themselves.
Veterans coming back home after being discharged face many changes. However, rebuilding relationships with family is one of the most important and most complicated. We at Hawaii Island Recovery welcome the opportunity to not only help you navigate the challenges of newfound veteran life but also encourage healing and communication for entire military families through education, personalized programs, and more. Our unique approach to veteran-specific care empowers us to work directly with veterans and find the most impactful approaches to healing through peer support, trauma-informed treatment, and much more. For more information on how we can empower you to rebuild relationships with your family following your time in service, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.