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War brides prepare to march down aisle
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many returning soldiers are planning to march down the aisle into a new life of marital bliss, but couples will need patience as they adjust to their life together.
Wartime separations have a long tradition of producing brides, either before soldiers are deployed, when on leave or soon after they return home.
Paul Purser, family assistance supervisor with the Mississippi Military Department, said these weddings mean many returning soldiers will be newlyweds, even if they got married a year and a half ago.
“We always encourage soldiers not to rush reunions or expect everything to be perfect. There is usually an adjustment period for both the soldier and the family,” Purser said. “They need to take their time in re-establishing their roles in the family.”
Patsilu Reeves, family life education specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the Internet and improved telephone services allow many soldiers to maintain contact with loved ones better than in past wars.
“These types of communication can help couples get to know one another on one level, but things will be different when they are together. That's when little habits can get on each other's nerves and become major irritations,” Reeves said. “All newlyweds need to express themselves without assuming they can read each other's minds.”
In addition to adjusting to life together, the soldier also will be dealing with stresses related to combat.
“Returning military personnel may be depressed, moody or edgy as they adjust back to civilian life,” Reeves said. “Some may withdraw from other people after the initial joy of returning home and have trouble communicating about their feelings.”
Reeves said survivor's guilt is a common feeling for returning soldiers. They may have nightmares and trouble sleeping.
“Realize that soldiers in war zones go through life-changing experiences. So in addition to the normal adjustments to married life, these families will be adjusting to new philosophies about life in general. They may have a new-found or an increased awareness of their own mortality,” Reeves said. “They may not have the same fun-loving attitude they once had and they may be more serious or more mature than when they left.”
Reeves said all couples should focus on the factors that make marriages strong. Commitment, positive thinking, kindness and respect, communication, empathy and shared goals are important aspects of a successful marriage.
“Many couples place so much emphasis on the wedding ceremony that they forget the real goal is a marriage,” Reeves said. “If problems arise, especially related to the deployment, couples should be ready to address them and not ignore them. If substance abuse or physical abuse occur, seek professional counseling immediately.”
Contact: Dr. Patsilu Reeves, (662) 325-1801