Military marriages have not only the stresses of normal marriages, but also have the strain of long distance and the effects of war on a marriage, as well. For many couples, these added stresses prove to be too great, and the marriage folds.
The Pentagon reported last year that the military divorce rate has steadily risen in the past ten years. According to the report, in 2001, the divorce rate was 2.6 percent, and in 2011, that percentage rose to 3.7 percent.
Experts attribute this rise in the divorce rate to frequent deployments and relocations. When a service member is deployed, his or her spouse is left behind to take care of the family on his or her own. When a deployed service member returns home, many families have trouble finding common ground after a long deployment.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 44 percent of veterans who have served since 2001, struggled to return to daily life as a civilian, and those who were married reported more problems than their unmarried counterparts.
The Executive Director of the National Military Family Association, Joyce Raezer, stated that when a deployed soldier returns home, “there is always the honeymoon period, but then the normal family routine sets in, and they have to re-establish those boundaries.”
Not only do the spouses struggle to return to a normal life, but children struggle as well. Children may act out when their parent returns. Some children resent it when a parent returns and begins disciplining again. Parents are told to take it slowly and re-enter parenting activities slowly to give their children time to adapt to having another parent in the household.
Billy Floyd, a behavioral health specialist at the Family Advocacy Program at Fort Hood, Texas, works with soldiers as they adjust to what’s changed at home. Floyd said that it takes “a period of time to move from a constant hyper-vigilant state, to where you relax.”
Despite the stresses, the majority of military families will find a way to reconnect and settle back in and keep their marriage intact.