Divorce and Military Marriages: What’s the Connection?

Divorce and Military Marriages: What’s the Connection?

Divorce and Military Marriages: What’s the Connection?

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Doesn't have to end in divorce. Military couples have happy, healthy marriages.

Every marriage has its challenges, but couples who have one or both members in the military are a breed all their own. They have unique complications and inevitable difficulties that civilians don’t have to deal with. This can obviously lead to a higher divorce rate, but it doesn’t have to! There are a lot of things that can help military couples have happy, healthy marriages, even with the extra burdens.

New Views on Military Marriage

There might be a nostalgic, romanticized image of military couples in the collective American mind, but the views on contemporary couples have changed. We’ve seen many movies with young people, desperately in love, getting hitched right before the young man leaves for war – but that hasn’t really happened since World War II. Our modern culture has a better understanding of the challenges that young military couples face, and some people may even look down on such a union. Don’t get me wrong: It makes for a great movie, but many military couples are doing the same thing their civilian counterparts are doing, and that’s waiting until they feel ready.

Different Benefits and Young Love

While many young people are choosing to put off their nuptials, there are still some who choose to marry young. This is probably caused by a combination of crazy love and ability. A lot of couples would love to get married right away, but they don’t have the resources or stability they want to establish a home. However, if you’re in the military, you can take advantage of guaranteed, stable income, insurance, and a place to live. Many young people just can’t stand being apart, so instead of waiting, they opt to get married so they can be together, no matter where they have to live. Some people may end up regretting such a decision, but there are also many couples who weather the storms of military life and come out better because of them. In fact, recent studies reveal that military couples are no more likely to divorce than civilian couples, especially when you look at 5-year-or-more divorce rates. It seems if military couples are going to get divorced, they do it pretty quickly, but once they make it through those first few years, military couples are no more likely to get divorced than civilian couples.

Challenges

There are many challenges facing military couples, but I think the greatest one is the obligation that service members have. When you marry a service member, you make a commitment to accept whatever assignment is handed to your spouse. This includes numerous scenarios, but mostly, it means you will spend a lot of time alone. For many, this means year-long deployments or relocation. The thickest-skinned military spouse can experience breakdowns during a PCS, not to mention anxiety over the countless holidays and special occasions his or her loved one will miss. These are challenges that are experienced across the board and really set military spouses apart.

Solutions

The blanket answer to the issue of divorce among military couples is to create more resources. These couples could absolutely use more counseling, funded support groups, and adequate benefits; all these programs would probably help lower the divorce rate. But no program or initiative can compare to having a supportive community. Being surrounded by a group of people, which includes other spouses who understand your struggles, is priceless. An ear to hear and a hand to hold go much further than any program. It can also be beneficial for couples facing difficult circumstances to get involved in a faith-based organization. A good religious community can offer support during hard times. As an Individual If you are in a military family, you need to plug into these support groups, but you also need to have the right attitude. Accept the life you are living; don’t fight it. Wishing you lived somewhere else or that your spouse had a civilian job isn’t going to help you – it will only serve to frustrate you and create resentment. Expect challenges, but also learn to appreciate the benefits of military life: the places you’ve been, the friends you’ve made, and the moments you’ve experienced. Divorce among military couples may never go away completely, but there’s a lot that can be done to reduce the number of failed marriages. If you’re in a military marriage, you are not alone in your circumstances, and you don’t have to feel like you are. Seek out the support you need to help your marriage thrive.

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