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Military couples divorce less, unless the servicemember is female

Like many other military couples, you and your spouse likely shared certain goals and dreams when you agreed that one of you would serve in the armed forces and the other would keep the home fires burning. Perhaps things were going along as planned and you even expanded your family when you had several children. As years passed and one or more deployments occurred, things may have gotten a bit stressful at times. Studies show that some married couples in the military are at risk for divorce.

You may already be aware that current data shows that, overall, military spouses divorce at lower rates than the general population. However, certain people and certain issues can cause those rates to increase. For instance, if the military member in your household is a woman, the risk for divorce nearly doubles. While most spouses are not thinking of divorce when they marry, it's never a bad idea to be as prepared as possible for an unpredictable future.

Problem factors that greatly increase risk of military divorce

Balancing military service and family life can be quite challenging. Most bases offer support resources for spouses, children and families as a whole to help them adjust to relocation, deployment and other issues that the average civilian family might not typically encounter. The following list shows issues that often place military marriages in distress

  • Military spouses often have to be separated from one another for extended periods of time. If a leading factor in your marital problems has to do with infidelity, you are definitely not alone in your struggle, as this is a common cause of military divorce. 

  • Deployments are never easy. Sadly, when a service member returns home from combat, he or she may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which may place unbearable strain on a marital relationship. 

  • If you're the spouse at home, whether you have paid employment or not, you might experience feelings of resentment, isolation or loneliness when your spouse is away on active duty. This can cause serious marriage problems. 
  • Did your spouse suffer an injury in combat? Not all marriages can withstand the stress of readjustment and learning to find a 'new normal' regarding permanent physical injuries.

Whether you're the at-home spouse or the military service member, you can likely relate to the pressure you feel in the ups and downs commonly associated with re-adapting to family life after deployment. Spouses (especially parents) may be unsure of their roles, and it's not uncommon for parental conflicts to arise. Many decide that they'd rather divorce than keep having the same old arguments.

Where to seek support

You might have a chaplain on base that can provide guidance and support and you make decisions about your future. There are also likely numerous other spouses on or off-base who have gone through similar experiences. Talking to someone you trust can be quite helpful as you make plans for major life changes. Many military spouses also seek legal counsel before taking any formal action to divorce. 

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