Military marriages aren’t always a walk in the park.
The long separations, work hours, and unpredictable PCS orders can wear on even the strongest couples. But that doesn’t mean couples have to go through it alone.
The Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes the challenges of military life and offers a variety of free, confidential counseling services to service members and their families.
Stressors from military life can put a strain on even the best of marriages. That doesn’t indicate weakness, either. A qualified counselor can coach couples and offer feedback to improve your relationship overall. No relationship is perfect, but you can work toward a close-to-perfect marriage together if you’re open to it.
Curious about how to get marriage military counseling for free?
Here’s a look at some of the free military counseling options couples have.
What are the Benefits of Military Counseling for Married Couples?
Couples everywhere can benefit from marriage counseling, but especially military couples. When you factor in unique stress factors that only pertain to the military lifestyle, it’s helpful to have an expert wade through tough issues with you. Counseling is essentially a way to gain new tools to apply that can help your personal relationships thrive.
A few of the biggest benefits of marriage counseling:
- Learn how to argue in a healthier way
- Discover how to communicate better
- Partner together on navigating relationship change
- Uncover how to resolve conflict in a productive manner
- Take control of how to state your needs clearly
- Work through unresolved issues
It’s hard work, but it’s work that has to be done for couples to thrive in a healthy manner. Picking up better communication skills, patience, and understanding of your partner can also impact other relationships in your life in a positive way, too.
You Have Options for Marriage Military Counseling
If it’s your first time inquiring about counseling, it can feel a little overwhelming to understand just how it’s covered by TRICARE.
You have a few options for how you can receive couples counseling. Not only do counseling sessions cover relationship issues, but you can also learn stress management techniques, parenting skills, and discover additional helpful resources.
Either option below is available to you. Select which one works best for your particular situation.
Military and Family Life Consultant (MFLC) Program
You can receive help from licensed clinical providers in dealing with issues that pop up during deployment and beyond. This program offers tools for crisis intervention, stress management, family issues, and more. Webinars are also available for couples to view together online. Topics of webinars include deployment, reintegration, conflict resolution, and more.
Couples can attend briefings and presentations on and off military bases, too. Check with your family readiness center on base to find out where you can receive free on-base counseling.
Receive confidential counseling any time of day through this DoD website. You can call in or talk to someone via chat about getting access to the services you need. You have the option of receiving non-medical counseling, immediate help, or even specialty consultations.
- Non-medical counseling – You can receive non-medical counseling to discuss issues you’re having. Call the hotline at 800-342-9647 to speak to someone at any time of day. You can also schedule in-person counseling as well, in addition to secured video sessions. These are short-term sessions (up to 12 sessions) to discuss topics like stress or anger management, loss, marital problems, parenting challenges, or relationship improvement.
- Immediate help – If you’re dealing with a suicidal spouse, a spouse committing child abuse, or other mental health breakdowns, call 911. Immediate help resources are available on this page as well, including a domestic violence hotline.
- Specialty consultations – This offering is for a variety of services. The professionals through this program can help couples through adoption processes, healthy relationship building, spouse relocation, and more.
What Other Military Counseling Services are Available?
While marriage counseling is an excellent offering provided by the Department of Defense, it’s not the only counseling service available. The military recognizes not everyone is married or has marital issues to work on. Families, couples, and individuals can take advantage of military counseling services at any point in a service member’s career.
Military counseling covers a variety of topics:
- Non-medical counseling for stress relief
- Financial counseling
- Document translation
- Child care options
- PCS moves
- Career benefits counseling (spouse scholarships, education, etc.)
As mentioned above, counseling options are offered for non-medical issues (relationship needs, financial concerns) and medical issues like drug addiction, psychological concerns, and more. It’s important to understand these are always confidential services — unless the counselor believes the command is in danger due to the individual’s remarks during counseling.
Need Marital or Other Mental Health Help? Get Started Today
If you’ve been thinking about counseling for some time now, just go. There’s no harm in trying it out.
Even if only one of you starts going to counseling, it means you can apply tools and techniques to better your relationship. Eventually, your other half may get on board, too. Or, if you need mental health services, the military has plenty of resources for you to seek help.
Service members and their families can also go to any Military Treatment Facility (MTF) and ask for help with a variety of issues. You may be referred to other providers for certain psychological needs, but it will be covered by the military. Local civilian providers who accept TRICARE can help out military couples in crisis as well.
TRICARE also provides a crisis hotline and nurse care line for families to call into at any time. You can learn more about those resources on the TRICARE mental health resource page.
Dealing with deployment overwhelm? Check out our post How to Best Cope With Deployment Stress When You’re Far From Home.
Feature image photo by Sgt. Ashton Hofmeister of 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade