Have you found it especially hard for your military marriage to survive? Unfortunately, military employees are ranked in the top ten of career fields with the highest divorce rates. The general population has a rate of 2.5% per year with military members having a rate of around 3.0%. Further, veterans exiting from the military have higher rates of divorce than comparable civilians. If your spouse or you are serving in the military, you probably know that there are exceptional challenges that face military families that may contribute to the higher divorce rates. Here are some of the stressors in a military marriage that make it hard for a military marriage to survive:
Members of the armed forces can move once every two to three years. Moving is listed as one of the top four most stressful events of one’s life. This stressful situation happens in a military marriage repeatedly. Spouses of the military can struggle to find a new job and experience job satisfaction due to the restarting of their career progression. The military spouse can also be frustrated with the decreased earning potential that the frequent relocations cause. Frequent moves can also make it hard to make lasting relationships. The moves also keep the couple away from family.
Deployments strain a military marriage. Couples are separated and face daily danger that is hard to cope with. Some couples will give into temptation and engage in an extramarital affair. Marital infidelity can be a problem for the military member as well as the spouse left at home. Other couples will grow apart due to the separation. Deployments also increase the strain on the marriage due to one parent single-parenting for long periods and the emotional impact on the children while mom or dad is away. Reintegration into being a couple again can create further marriage stressors that are hard to recover from. Studies show that long deployments are the most common factor in military divorces.
For specific tips for navigating marriage during deployments, look for the upcoming blog post on Deployment Tips.
Post-traumatic stress disorder and other invisible wounds of war put significant stress on the marriage. Members with combat trauma face ongoing physical and mental health issues after the return home. Combat trauma is on the rise as 16% of those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Middle East are diagnosed with PTSD. Those with PTSD may have trouble sleeping, increased irritability, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks, guilt, and some even express violence. These symptoms may impact their relationships. When your spouse is dealing with combat trauma, you must get your spouse an entire care team – counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, medication, and a support group – all are critical to helping your family stay intact. I’ve been part of hosting a Reboot Military – Overcoming Trauma Together Group in the Springs. It’s a life-changing course that is much more successful than normal PTSD care. It includes the spiritual component of soul wounding that happened as a result of PTSD and includes the spouse in the care group since they too are suffering from the effects of combat trauma, but in a secondary way. I highly recommend you find a group in your area or join one of their online groups.
Demands of the Military Interfering with Family Life
Disappointingly, serving one’s family can get in the way of family life. Some who serve in the armed forces have to work shift duty while others train for battle at night and work evenings. The pressures of war and serving their country also put enormous demands on the family and can encourage the service member to put mission before family.
Sadly, any combination of these issues can contribute to domestic violence which also contributes to higher divorce rates. Sadly, domestic violence is a problem in more than 15% of military marriages. If you are experiencing domestic violence, please seek help immediately! Call 1-800-799-7233 or go to the National Domestic Violence hotline.
I'd love the opportunity to speak to your group about military marriage or tips for helping women navigate the struggles of military life. See more about my speaking topics here.
Pressure to Marry Quickly
Military couples may jump into marriage before thoroughly evaluating their compatibility and testing the relationship due to a nearing transfer or deployment. The military pay system can be interpreted to incentivize marriage with increased financial benefits and freedom. This may encourage couples to marry before they are ready or with the wrong motive.
10 Tips to Help Your Military Marriage Thrive
Although it may seem like all of these statistics and reasons are stacked against you, you can be an overcomer. My husband and I have been happily married for twenty-six years and feel that overcoming the stressors of military life helped us build spiritual and mental muscles to endure a life-long marriage. Pooling over one hundred of my military friends who have been married for between ten to thirty years, I developed these ten tips to help your military marriage do more than just survive but thrive. Click here to access the extensive resource: 10 Tips to Help Your Military Marriage Thrive.
To learn more about navigating military marriage, please see my book, Another Move, God? 30 Encouragements for Embracing Your Life as a Military Wife. Join the waiting list!