Relationships are full of ups and downs and, when it comes to serving RAF couples, additional pressures might get in the way of a stable and healthy relationship.
The RAF Benevolent Fund understands the challenges RAF couples might face, that's why we partner with Relate to provide the support RAF families, couples and individuals might need. In the following blog, a partner of a current member of the RAF shares the impact our relationship support service had on their marriage.
Like any military family we had moved around a lot and I had made sacrifices in my own career to support my husband in his; but things really came to a head when we reached the end of a brilliant and stable posting, that had become a second home with a fantastic support network.
We moved to a location we chose and bought our first house, fully planning to stay and to build our family home there. My husband went back to a demanding frontline squadron job (for the first time in almost seven years) and for the first 12 months was away more than he was at home. It was an enormous shock for both of us and our two children.
I struggled to settle into a new posting, effectively alone and with no support from him or his new squadron and no friends. The time difference together with poor communications, meant that when my husband was away we barely spoke and when we did, it was far from supportive or helpful to either of us.
By the time my husband finally returned and he had a lengthy period at home, we realised it was more than just the post-operational-tour-adjustments to each other again. We were barely communicating and when we did it was with anger on both our sides.
I was angry and resentful that rather than the stable and peaceful start to our new lives in our own home, my husband was forced to spend more and more time away. Once again, despite the children being much older, there was still little prospect of my re-establishing a career of my own, as I had so little support.
My husband was frustrated that I wasn't happy and didn't know what to do to help us both. We were on the brink of separation, when someone told us that the RAF Benevolent Fund provided marriage counselling.
At first, I was reluctant to apply as I didn't want to have to tell anyone what was going on. But it turned out that arranging the counselling was really easy – we just had to phone the RAF Benevolent Fund Welfare department and give them my husband's service number (as proof that we were eligible) and that was it! We didn't have to give any information about why we thought we needed counselling or anything else.
The counsellor helped us to communicate with each other and really listened. Together, we developed better strategies to cope when my husband is away and it brought us together again as a team. We ended up taking the full six sessions, and I can honestly say without the Benevolent Fund we would be divorced right now!
Find out more about our relationship support service.