Maintaining a healthy marriage is consistent work, especially when children are involved. It is an intimate, frustrating, fulfilling, and often overwhelming undertaking all at the same time. Yet, for the service men and women of the US military, it is often a breaking point.
It’s no secret that military personal experience some of the highest rates of divorce and separation in the country. A result of the incredible toll active military service can have on the private lives of its servicemen and women.
Yet, this phenomenon is not without its understanding. Today we’ll be exploring the common causes of military divorce, as well as the effects military divorce can have on your family. To provide you with the knowledge and support you need to navigate this difficult time.
The Common Causes of Military Divorce
It’s important to quantify that there is nothing inherently different about a military marriage and any other marriage. They can fall apart in all the same ways as each other, with nothing to do with the military at all.
We, however, will be unpacking many of the studied reasons that specifically military divorces occur. Causing them to be some of the highest divorce rates in the country.
Perhaps the most obvious culprit is the deployments. Soldiers can be stationed for months, even years, at a time before returning home. This puts unimaginable strain on a marriage, with long bouts of loneliness.
In addition to that loneliness, studies have shown that couples often struggle to readjust after deployment. Creating an environment that fosters conflict, discomfort, and eventual emotional isolation.
Whether we like to admit it or not, statistics don’t lie. Service members of the US military have a higher-than-average rate of domestic violence, a trend that matches other high-stress occupations. This plays a large role in the high rate of divorces within the armed services.
A study conducted by the University of Florida showed that domestic violence was particularly prevalent within couples where a service member recently left the service.
Untreated Mental Health Problems
Tragically, mental health whilst being much more understood and treatable these days go staggeringly undertreated in the armed services. This is despite an honest effort by the US military to offer robust mental health treatment for their servicemen and women.
Service members can suffer from PTSD, violent outbursts, depression, anxiety, and much more. These issues, if left untreated, can often drive a wedge between couples.
Whilst cheating on your partner is never acceptable, it is somewhat understandable for its common presence in military couples. With long bouts of loneliness, uncertainty, and doubt, a perfect recipe for adultery is made.
Studies have shown that any couple who spends a significant amount of time away from each other repeatedly, in the case of months to years, has a higher rate of adultery. This fact holds for military couples.
Exploring The Effects of Military Divorce on Children
A military divorce can have a wide range of lasting effects on your children. Many of these are typical for any divorce but often made worse by an absent deployed serviceman or woman. Let’s break down some of the most common effects, in a broad-stroke sense.
If you would like to read about these effects in more detail, you can read our detailed write-up, or check our blog for a variety of topics related to this complex subject.
Higher Rate of Mental Illness
Studies have shown that children of divorced parents exhibit higher rates of mental illness later in life. These mental illnesses can range from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders, as well as a wide range of other conditions.
Within the context of a military divorce, your child will be feeling even further isolated from one of their parents. This loneliness, mixed with the confusion all children have about divorce, and the infrequent nature of one parent’s presence in the child’s life, is often identified as starting point for these issues.
Sudden Behavioral Shift
In the short term, your child will likely experience a foundational shift in their behavior. It is one of the most common effects of military divorce and can have lasting negative impacts on a child’s social skills, mental health, and more.
These effects include, but are not limited to:
- Sudden destructive behavior,
- Shouting, temper problems, or tantrums,
- Lashing out physically,
- Being quiet, not wanting to be around others,
One of the more unique effects that face children of military divorce is housing instability. Whilst one parent may be consistently home, a military partner will likely be away for months to years at a time. Servicemen and women are also highly likely to be deployed overseas, sometimes for a large portion of their military career.
For children, this will often feel like losing a parent completely. Unlike most other divorces, where both parents will be present in the child’s life, military divorces can force one parent to be absent from their child’s life for longer than is healthy.
Children will experience feelings of rejection, loneliness, and even resentment toward their more present parent.
For decades studies into insomnia have underlined the connection between children of divorce and insomnia later in life. Over half of insomnia patients express that their difficulty sleeping began when they were young. Brought on by intense stress, depression, anxiety, and overall, deep emotional turmoil.
Complimentary studies have also reflected that these emotional effects on children of military divorce are seen in much higher frequency, due to a range of lifestyle factors present in children of military servicemen and women.
Anyone who suffers through a divorce or separation will indeed, to some degree, be going through a unique situation. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing can be learned from the countless examples that come before.
With the information outlined here today, covering the causes and effects of military divorce or separation, we hope you have a greater understanding of the struggles military marriages face and their children in the event of a divorce.
Never forget that there is support out there for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to reach out to those you trust.