September 14, 2020

Relationship Dynamics: Divorce, Deployment, and Remarriage

Couple Cuddling on the Couch


Everyone has to start over in life, and if you are a military family then that is definitely the case. What makes change so hard? Have you wondered how to start over and create a new life for yourself? In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Polinsky discusses relationship dynamics of divorce, deployment, and remarriage and how to start over.



  • Life transitions are inevitable especially with military life.   
  • Each transition comes with a lot of stress as roles change. 
  • Creating a new normal can be hard but doable. 
  • If you are newly single, think about whether you should change your pattern of picking romantic partners.  ​

What is really hard is when you lose someone who meant the world to you, who was your home.”

Life transitions are inevitable especially with military life.   

  • It is hard to imagine the loss of a loved one but they happen every day. When this happens, people have to create a new normal.  Other types of transitions include divorce, break ups, moves, widowhood, single parenthood, remarriage, etc. Military life involves a lot of unique transitions such as long distance relationships, frequent moves, deployment, and trauma exposure, to name a few. 
  • Another transition that impacts families is when people get remarried. In that case both partners have to create a new normal as well as their kids.

Each transition comes with a lot of stress as roles change. 

  • Typical challenges happen when you have to take on new roles, make a switch to co-parenting, or just dealing with life stress–like employment stress, financial concerns, a long to-do list, or limited social support. One of the challenges is transitioning to taking on new roles in what you are responsible for and building a new support system. 
  • Kids can face a number of typical challenges when there is a family transition. They might have more anxiety or feel more depressed. They might act out and get in trouble. Or kids sometimes get quiet or perfect and mature–these kids often get overlooked because they don’t look like they are struggling. However, kids shouldn’t be too mature for their age as it is often a sign of anxiety.

Kids start feeling stressed because you are stressed.”

Create a new normal through routines and rituals. 

  • Rituals are like ceremonies and traditions. Examples include wedding and birthdays or graduation. This is how you celebrate big life changes and mark a transition in life. It is important to think about the types of rituals you want as a family–for example how do we as a family say goodbye to our home or town, and how to we say hello to our new home. There could be rituals for deployments and homecomings as well. 
  • Routines are similar but they don’t have the same meaning. They are about the structure and schedule of the day or the week. This could include when people wake up and go to bed, or when they cook food and go grocery shopping. Routines get disrupted when there is a life change. You want to be intentional about what you want the new routine to be like and stick to that–this can help you through a transition and create a new normal.

Rituals help people process the grief and are a symbol of moving on to something new.” 

Pick a better partner in the future. It is not usually one partner’s fault that the relationship didn’t work. It takes two to tango and there are often situational reasons for the relationship to end. However it is also important to think about your pattern for how you picked out partners in the past and how your formed relationships. You can increase the likelihood of your future relationships a little better by examining your patterns. This is where therapy can be really helpful. For example if you have a pattern of feeling like you are the responsible one in the relationship, or if you consistently pick people who are not emotionally available, then therapy can help you figure out how to change your pattern and pick someone where that pattern won’t be recreated.

What do you really want in a relationship moving forward? Do you want the same pattern or do you want to change it up?”


If you are newly single or are getting remarried, decide on one new tradition that can be part of the new normal. Start making it happen.

Liz’s Useful Links: 

Podcast Sponsor: The Relate Assessment is the most comprehensive relationship assessment in the world and is based on 10 predictors of marital stability. It’s supported by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is the one my husband and I used during our premarital couples counseling. To get 20% off the assessment, go to and enter “POLINSKY20”.

Thanks for Listening!


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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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