Compassionate Support For The Aspiring Professional



Military Spouse Workshop

Military Spouse

Why Workshops May Help Military Spouses
Being a military spouse is a complex role. Some days it is rewarding and inspiring, while other days the
challenges can feel stressful and overwhelming. Military personnel are such a vital part of our national
security, and military spouses are often unsung heroes that could use support and connection with
others who are in the same circumstances.

Workshops are an ideal way for military spouses to gather for the purpose of learning strategies for
managing varying issues that arise. With the guidance of a trained professional, military spouses can
explore a variety of topics, sharing thoughts and feelings about topics such as multiple deployments,
coping with a spouse who has experienced trauma, managing parental roles, and working on
communication challenges. There is power in connecting with others with who have similar experiences.
Workshops offer camaraderie and a place to learn and talk in a safe, confidential environment.

Sometimes military spouses feel isolated, particularly when family and friends are far away. It can be
difficult to meet new people and this isolation and loneliness can worsen symptoms of depression,
stress, and anxiety. Through attending workshops, new connections can be made with other military
spouses as you work on coping strategies or attend groups at the Resiliency Center.

Working and connecting with others is an empowering experience like no other. People struggling with
anxiety, depression and trauma may also benefit from learning distress tolerance skills. These types of
skills help people navigate difficult, stressful times without becoming overwhelmed. There are many
benefits that military spouses can gain from attending workshops, but one of the most important is
reconnecting with your personal strengths and values. Often with all the roles military spouses play, it
can be easy to lose track of self-care. Participating in groups and workshops is a great way to honor the
best parts of yourself and build resilience and strength for today and tomorrow.

Session 1: Navigating Military Relationships: Why Do So Many Military Relationships Fail?


Maintaining a relationship with a military spouse can present a host of challenges. Work-related stress, long hours, deployment changes and other factors can put strain on the relationship. Divorce rates for military marriages are higher than average; 14.6 percent for Air Force, 12.5 percent for Navy, and 8 percent each for Army and Marines. When couples are aware of the risk factors for divorce, they can work together to make healthy changes. 

Group Discussion

  • What are some of the stressors you and your spouse experience as a military couple?
  • What are your top three challenges as a military family?
  • How effectively do you communicate with your partner about these stressors/conflicts? 

Skill building

Improving communication

  • Active listening/reflecting what you hear: 

Active listening requires partners to stay checked-in when their spouse is talking. Resist the urge to prepare your next comments; maintain eye contact. Reflect what you are hearing your partner say without judgment or further interpretation and ask if you understood correctly. 

  • Listening with intent to understand

Communicating effectively with your spouse requires an intention to learn more about their needs, thoughts, or feelings. Focus on listening as a learning opportunity. Ask for clarification from your partner and encourage them to express themselves, which will help reduce tension if they feel you want to hear them.

  • Assume positive intent from one another: 

When you and your partner are in a good space, make an agreement that you will maintain a positive assumption of intent from one another. Often when couples are in conflict, it is easy to jump to conclusions about the other person’s intent; thoughts like “they don’t respect me” or “they don’t care about my needs” can feed unhelpful emotions toward a partner and may not be accurate. Assume that your partner cares for you and wants the relationship to improve and guide your thoughts and comments from that assumption.

  • State needs clearly and calmly

When partners escalate in tone of voice and volume, it immediately changes the nature of the dialogue and removes any chance of making it a productive and loving conversation. Establish an agreement in advance that you and your partner will not yell, swear, insult, or use derogatory comments toward one another during communication. If either of you needs to step away from the discussion and take a break to remain calm and respectful, agree to return in a half-hour or more to resume the discussion. Sometimes a discussion may have to be revisited the next day to maintain this rule. 

Practice/Reflection Activity

Think of a recent conflict with your spouse. Write out the dialogue on a sheet of paper. Try to recall what each of you said and the tone of voice, and any thoughts or feelings you experienced during the conflict. After you have written out the dialogue, re-read it with the communication skills above in mind; can you recognize any pitfalls or examples of communication challenges in that dialogue?

Rewrite the dialogue using the techniques listed above.

With a partner, review your dialogues and observations and offer suggestions to one another about varying techniques that could be used to improve communication skills in these situations. 

Group discussion

  • What are some pitfalls you and your spouse fall into when it comes to communication? 
  • Are there specific issues that are related to being a military couple? 
  • How does your spouse’s military involvement impact your communication? 
  • What are some skills you can practice to improve communication with your spouse? 

Closing Checkout

How was today’s session for you, do you have any additional thoughts or feelings to share?

Session 2: Coping with Military Family Syndrome and Specific Challenges of Military Couples


Military couples face difficulties that civilian couples often do not. You may have heard of the term Military Family Syndrome, in which children and parents are impacted by the stress of military life such as multiple deployments, absent parents, constant moving to different locations and the unfortunate aftereffects of military trauma such as PTSD, depression, substance abuse and in some cases, Traumatic Brain Injury and other severe conditions. These factors put military couples and their children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems.

Group Discussion: 

  • How has military life impacted you emotionally and physically?
  • In what ways does your partner’s military experience impact their emotional health?
  • If you have children, how has military life affected them? 

Skill Building: 

Military families need a two-part approach to coping with the challenges faced. The specific needs of each member of the family as individuals needs to be addressed, as well as the needs of the family unit. Complete this individual care plan for yourself and encourage each of your family members to do the same (see below)

Individual Care Plan


What situations cause you stress in your family?

What do you need from family members when this stress is going on?

Are there behaviors or actions that make your stress worse in these situations?

Alone time is important for mental health. What are some healthy activities that help you unwind and reduce stress when you are alone? (examples: reading, coloring, prayer, meditation, yoga)

What time can you set aside for alone time each day in order to keep stress low?

Family time/couple time is also important and keeps your connections strong. What are some family activities (without cell phones) that bring you closer to your loved ones? (examples: going for walks, fishing, playing games, etc)

What time can you and your family set aside each day for family time to keep your connection strong?

What are your individual rules for how to treat others and yourself?

What are your family rules for how to treat each other and the family unit?

Practice/reflection activity:

In the Venn Diagram below, complete your strengths in one circle, your partner’s (or family members) strengths in the other circle. In the overlapping area, list strengths you both possess.

   Common strengths

Share your Venn diagram with the group. Brainstorm ways you and your families can use your individual and common strengths to deal with stress or conflict within the home. 

Group Discussion:

  • What are some ways you and your partner and/or family can work through difficulties using the communication skills from the prior session and the self-care/family care plans from today’s session? 
  • What is an important factor for you as an individual as you explore taking care of yourself with the stress of military life? 
  • What can help you stay on track and open about your thoughts and feelings?

Closing Checkout: 

How was today’s session for you, do you have any additional thoughts or feelings to share?

Ask us about Workshops on

Resiliency center and
Distress tolerance skills