(Hilary Valdez)

Wars and conflicts end, but the aftermath of losing your loved one, lingers. No one is free from adversity. The end of a relationship is filled with regret and heartbreak, but we still need each other. Losing that special someone is a grieving process – and the grief is different for everyone.

After years of conducting group therapy with military men, I realized how sensitive men can be, especially when sharing their hopes and dreams while becoming emotionally vulnerable. Often times after a long-deployment, couples find that their relationship has ended, yet one is still in love with the former partner. Being on a deployment means enduring hardships together even apart.

Military life is stressful for families – and spouses are more inclined to divorce. Added problems set in when child custody and benefit disputes arise. Moving frequently can be problematic, especially for spouses who lose job opportunities or have to accept lower paying positions. Then add a few long deployments and the possibilities for resolving conflicts become problematic.

When romantic relationships end, feelings and thoughts begin to flood the mind. We search for understanding and try to figure out what comes next. There is no way you can remain the same person you previously were, after the relationship ends. You took a risk with your heart and paid a price for love. The break-up can be more painful if you didn’t want the relationship to end. Rest assured, there is no set time limit for healing. Your depth of emotional involvement play a part in the healing process.

According to reports based on U.S. Census Bureau data, those who have served in the military have the highest divorce rate of any career field. “Service members are married at higher rates than civilians and our divorce rate is roughly 4.8%,” according to a 2021 report by the Department of Defense Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military and Community and Family Policy.

For many men in group therapy, it was difficult to predict how romance would turn out. A person can’t avoid personal problems and all relationships go through unstable periods. Each person yearns for a partnership, but divorce, like death, changes you; it affects your core being. Pain and grief affects every part of who you are. Pain and sorrow are the price paid for a love lost to divorce or death. It takes a long time for your heart to accept what your head has been told.

There are stages of love, and each stage has to pass away in order to develop increased maturity in your heart: something old must die and something new must be born within ourselves. Emotional death and rebirth are occurring. What you understood as to who you were and who you are becoming, is painfully expanding. The heart expands and is contracting, between grief and happiness. It’s confusing and painful.

Love is a state of being. Falling in love means unlocking your heart. Psychic chemistry is present when love is mutual. The heart awakens into love. A desire for more natural living sprouts a renewed sense of destiny. Humans are meant to have relationships and fall in love. But look at your past partners: their values, their habits, their image, and this gives you are rough image of your ideal partner. Study your past relationships to gain insight into your romantic pain and pleasure. Do you look for certain types/profiles of men or women? Look at repeated patterns and see what changes need to be made. We have to get over negative behaviors and emotional conflicts that get in the way of love. Love is a choice and a willingness to be present with the other person without pretense.

It’s common for a person to rate their date on a check list for the perfect mate. There is no perfect person. Do your part, be nice and seek better communication and care about the other person’s welfare. Don’t look for the perfect person to make up for what is missing in your life. We are all looking for love and that means accepting the other person’s faults and imperfections.

To have a relationship you must meet more people. You can’t stay home watching television waiting for love to happen on its own. Heart pain never permanently dissolves but you can turn the volume down on it and control it. Trauma, grief, and disappointment can produce positive changes in you. What can come from a painful loss? Make active efforts to express love and put love into motion.

Whether you’re dealing with the legal, emotional, or other aspects of divorce, Military OneSource stands ready to help. Call 800-342-9647 or go to OCONUS/international for dialing options.


Hilary Valdez is a freelancer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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