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Valentine's Day advice for military families transitioning back from deployment

Valentine's Day is all about love but it can be tough for some couples and experts say it's a great time to consider reaching out for help.

TAMPA, Fla. — Many people will be happily celebrating love when Valentine's Day rolls around. Others may be having a tougher time, dealing with relationship stress spurred by the pandemic or readjustment issues from returning from deployment.

"A lot of families in Tampa Bay are going through these feelings right now," said Belinda Sharp, the lead clinician at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners.

Sharp says the re-learning of roles in the home and rebuilding relationships that struggled while service members were deployed, as well as other unique issues faced by service members can make this time of year a little tougher.

Sharp recommends reaching out to others in your network — friends, family, coworkers, clergy or anyone else you feel comfortable talking to. 

"Getting together with a group of people who are experiencing the same thing you are, it can be a great way to talk about different strategies. Maintaining a relationship, it is work," she said.

Reflective listening is another tactic couples can try. 

"You can improve communication by deliberately listening to your partner and reflecting back information you heard them say, so you can be sure you're on the same page and understanding. So you say 'I need to pick up the kids because you're going to be stopping at the store' and that helps you clear up any confusion and not causing stress by both having you do the same tasks," Sharp said. 

If you're finding it tough to find a connection with your partner or your family, Sharp says there is no problem in asking for help. The Cohen Military Family Clinic offers support for all military members and their families, both in-person and via telehealth.

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