Protecting & Prioritizing Your Military Marriage - with Dr. Lindsey Cavanagh

I live in a really big military town, Virginia Beach, right next to Norfolk, VA, which houses the largest naval base in the world. We also have Langley Air Force Base in nearby Hampton, army bases nearby and marine bases. Because we have so much military here and Shaun and I actually have lots of military friends, I wanted to dedicate a specific episode to helping out our military spouses.


In today's episode, we are blessed to have with us Dr. Lindsey Cavanagh, a psychologist, marriage coach, and podcast host of Married to Military. She is going to help us to learn how to have happy, healthy, and sustainable connected military marriages. Military marriages do not need to be disconnected. Military marriages do not need to have higher divorce rates than civilian marriages. So if you are in the military and you are married or if you're dating someone and they're in the military and you're wondering if you really want to get yourself involved in all of this, you are going to want to listen to this episode today.


Now, enjoy a few snippets from my conversation with Lindsey.


[Dr. Lindsey Cavanagh] I have worked with marriages outside of the military as well. And, certainly, marriage has challenges in and of itself, and some of them are very universal. I say when it comes to military marriages, one thing that comes up is like the deployments, you have the really long separations, whereas there are many careers that will take people away.


The other thing that really comes down to military marriages is the military members are trained in a very specific way to be successful at work or in combat or whenever they need to be. . . to be very emotionless, to be very problem-solution-oriented, to be very defensive in their positions. And so, again, all of those things are needed at work, but they don't always translate into a healthy marriage when you're trying to do things like compromise or when you're having emotions that need to be addressed, which really comes up in marriage. So that's another area that I find that's really specific to military because they are all trained in this way.


Spouses often say, I'm tired of being second priority. This is probably the number one thing that I help military spouses with because it comes up so often. They say, “I’m tired of my opinions and dreams not being validated.” One thing that I'll say to military spouses is you have to remember that the military does a really good job of giving constant information about what they need to do to advance their career and what kind of skills they need. They are constantly getting counseling about how and what to do to further their career so they are very confident in what needs to happen at work. 


Military Spouses Have Needs Too


A lot of times, really what needs to happen is that we, as the military spouse, are really educating our spouse in terms of what we need and how they can support us. So often what I find is people will come to me and they say, “My spouse doesn't care. My spouse only cares about the military. They don't care about me.”  Nine times out of ten, when you really dig into it, the military service member cares a lot. And they actually, even in many ways, feel guilty.


This is where education from our side is needed, here is exactly how I want you to support me. Here is exactly how I want you to support the family. If I want my ideas and dreams to be considered when he's making his work decisions, I need to make sure that I'm telling him what those are. So really figuring out first what is it that you want from your spouse, how can your spouse support you, and then finding ways to start having those conversations.


My spouse was really relieved once I started doing this because now he knows what to do at home to make me feel special, loved and valued even when I don't have as much control over life like the military does. So I find that oftentimes it ends up being a really great thing. It's just you have to put in that initial work and be really clear about what it is you want and what it is you need.


Lindsey also talked at length about how to incorporate each other’s love languages into times of separation. Her insight was incredibly valuable and will help a lot of military marriages to stay connected even when they’re apart. 


If you’d like this military marriage episode to turn into a series where I do several episodes for military spouses, then make sure that you hit me up on Instagram.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Married to Military Deployment Survival Guide

Learn more about Dr. Cavanagh



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