Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families now have free access to a range of counselling services provided by the UK’s leading relationships charity, Relate. The new partnership between Relate and The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), aims to support RNRM families with their relationships, which often come under strain due to lifestyle pressures.

Deployment can present particular issues for relationships as families adjust to time apart. A recent study by Kings College London found that military spouses who coped well with separation and deployment might be at increased risk of relationship difficulties arising when their partner returns home.

Free access for Royal Navy families

As the UK’s leading relationships charity, Relate provides impartial and non-judgmental support for people of all ages, at all stages of romantic, family and social relationships. Both serving and former Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families will have free access to an initial seven sessions of relationship counselling provided by Relate. This can either be face-to-face, by telephone or by webcam depending on what suits people best and will also be available to those deployed overseas.

Anyone who would prefer to talk to a trained counsellor about a specific issue via instant messaging can access Relate’s Live Chat facility. Relate’s work extends beyond relationship counselling to sex therapy, family counselling or children and young people’s counselling.

Helping to tackle uncertainty in the armed forces

Commenting on the new partnership, Relate’s Chief Executive, Chris Sherwood said: "We are pleased to be working with The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity to offer our services to all former and serving personnel and their families. Any relationship, no matter how strong, is likely to face difficulties from time to time. For armed forces families, pressures which come with the lifestyle such as deployment and uncertainty can at times place added stress on relationships.

"Relate’s counselling services offer an opportunity to talk through any tensions and find ways to stay connected as a couple or family during periods of separation. Whether you're married, living together, in a same-sex relationship, separated, divorced or single, we can help. We hope that RNRM personnel and their families will make use of this service and seek support at the earliest possible stage."

Mandy Lindley, Director of Funding and Relationships at RNRMC, added: "It’s easy to forget that while our Navy protects us as sea, family members are often left behind – sometimes for months at a time. Inevitably this can cause strain in relationships.

"I am delighted that through our grants programme we have been able to support this essential service from Relate to better help families overcome the challenges associated with service life."

Accessing Relate's services

Any serving or former personnel or their families wishing to book a counselling or sex therapy session should the dedicated RNRMC phone line 01302 380279.

A dedicated web page, which also includes live chat options, has also been set up:

Everything said to the counsellor will remain completely confidential. No one in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines will be told that a former or serving member of personnel, partner or family member has accessed these services unless there are safeguarding issues. They will need to provide theirs or their partner’s service number to receive the service, but this is simply to confirm eligibility.