18 April, 2009


Coping With Separation

Studies in America have helped to shed light on the emotional hurdles facing Naval families as a result of deployment - these worthwhile findings are equally relevant to the families of Royal Navy servicemen and women, as well as the serving person themselves. The real value of the research is in examining natural patterns of emotion - which nearly everyone goes through during separation. Realising that these emotions are natural - and that you are not the only family experiencing them - can go a long way towards helping you cope with the difficulty of being apart.

uncomfortable couple

The Symptoms of Separation
Did you know that many Naval families experience some or all of these perfectly normal emotions/reactions towards deployment?

Before deployment:

  • Anger, resentment and frustration
  • Arguing with each other
  • Crying at TV shows or songs
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions

During deployment:

  • Initial relief that the pain of saying goodbye is over
  • Guilt because of that relief ("does it mean I don't really love him/her?")
  • Difficulty in sleeping (or sometimes over-sleeping)
  • Restlessness and irritability

After deployment:

  • An initial uneasiness with each other
  • Arguments or silences
  • Fear of sexual intimacy

The Emotional Cycle of Deployment
Kathleen Vestel Logan, author of the American study and ex-Naval Officer, describes the ways in which the research can be used to help all Naval families.

"The Emotional Cycle of Deployment (ECOD) model describes changes in Naval wives' behaviour and emotions during deployments of three months or more. Although it was initially developed for wives, the model has been useful in working with husbands and children as well."

person art"The Navy has its own culture and traditions, and it is not helpful to compare military families to the civilian community. Most Navy wives, for example, have heard from a civilian friend or relative the comment, "you're so strong - I could never do it!" It makes them sound weird, like superwomen, when they are just doing the best they can under the circumstances. The ECOD presents a general picture. The cycle appears to be true for most women most of the time, but each person is unique - so obviously there will be exceptions."

"Some people have expressed concern that there seems to be too much emphasis on 'negative' feelings. First, feelings are neither good nor bad, they simply exist. Only actions can be negative. For example, there is nothing inherently wrong with feeling angry; ways of coping with that feeling, however, can vary from abusing a child (negative) to discussing solutions to the problem (positive). Some feelings - like loneliness, resentment, depression, anger and anxiety - are harder to identify and share. But they are a part of naval life too, and will not go away simply because people try to ignore them."

"Acknowledging the whole range of feelings is the first step towards dealing with them in a healthy manner. Just because Naval couples live under abnormal circumstances does not mean they have to have sick marriages. In fact, experience supports the case that there is no stronger marriage than a good Naval marriage."

male and female"Getting ready for a deployment starts long before the husbands actually walk out the door. For a period of time, the women tend to ignore the deployment, fantasizing that somehow it will not happen: "surely the ship will sink or he'll get drafted ashore". Eventually, something happens to trigger recognition of the reality of departure, perhaps a flip of the calendar so that "The Date" is visible. At this point, the Emotional Cycle of Deployment begins."

info More Information: Emotional Cycle of Deployment - Stages 1 to 4

info More Information: Emotional Cycle of Deployment - Stages 5 to 7

info More Information: How to Use the ECOD Model

info More Information: Deployment Adjustment Stages

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