A Master Chief hugs his wife.

Struggling with Trust During Deployment

When couples spend time separated by long distances, it’s common to run into problems with miscommunication and misunderstandings. During deployment, when communication is sometimes limited or unavailable, military couples often struggle to trust each other. It’s difficult to believe someone else when you have no way to verify what they are saying and few options to communicate with them.

Everyone says they know someone who has been unfaithful during a deployment. Service members blame loved ones back home for having affairs. Spouses often become suspicious of service members becoming too close to certain co-workers. But despite the good example of thousands of healthy couples, the rumors and trust issues persist. Many military couples report that they have nagging feelings of doubt or insecurity during deployment. This is true even when their relationship is strong, and the other person has done nothing to make themselves untrustworthy. Once those thoughts creep into your mind, they are difficult to dismiss. If you or your service member are struggling with trust issues during a deployment, here are some things you can do about it.

  1. Consider the source. Did someone share their suspicions with you, or did you see evidence firsthand? Take a step back and consider where these feelings are coming from before you pursue them any further. If you don’t have any real reason to distrust your service member, it’s usually best ignored and left alone.
  2. Don’t air dirty laundry. If you suspect something is happening during deployment, the only person who can truly answer that is your service member. Don’t use social media to get opinions from strangers. This is especially true if you are in a group who know you or have spouses in your service member’s unit. If your service member hears about your concerns from a screenshot of a social media post, that conversation is not going to be healthy or healing. Instead, discuss it privately with your loved one or with a counselor rather than a public group.
  3. Claim your old baggage. When couples have trust issues in a healthy relationship, it is often due to problems in previous relationships. Do you or your spouse have a negative history that makes it more difficult for you to trust each other? If the baggage is on your side, you will have to acknowledge that and work through it before you openly accuse your partner of something they haven’t done. Talking to a counselor can be a great way to explore your history and find out how it is affecting your current relationship. The counselors at Military OneSource offer Relationship Tracks to help you work through common issues and get to the bottom of your concerns.
  4. Talk to your service member. If you think something suspicious has happened, ask your service member about it directly. Try to remain calm and ask questions instead of making accusations. It’s possible there is an innocent explanation and that you misunderstood what was going on. On the other hand, it is possible that your service member may admit to something. They may even try to lie to you. Know your options if your suspicions turn out to be true. Infidelity is still taken very seriously in the military.

Usually, trust issues during deployment tend to be an exaggerated response to the distance and the lack of communication. Before you do something you might regret, talk to a counselor. Take time to step back and think about the situation calmly. If you are in doubt, think about this: If your service member never gave you a reason to distrust them before, then you have no reason to distrust them during deployment.

Lizann Lightfoot
Written By Lizann Lightfoot
Marine Corps Spouse

Lizann is the Seasoned Spouse – a Marine Corps wife, mom of four and published author. She loves writing, exploring new duty stations and chocolate!

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