According to Military.com, the active-duty divorce rate declined to approximately 3% in 2018. Yet, military marriages face distinct challenges as one spouse watches the other leave Indiana and head into a war zone.

Military couples who want to see their relationships last a lifetime should first work to understand the factors that cause an unusual level of stress on their marriages.

The impact on service members

According to Dr. Preston Dyer at Baylor University, many engaged military couples, especially the younger ones, have an over-idealistic expectation of what life in the service and marriage will be. This can be devastating to the relationship when the romantic veneer fades, and reality sinks in. Military members could serve in environments where survival is not guaranteed, and both partners must face that fact every day. Service members that are not working in conflict zones still may have stressful positions, and it can be difficult for them to leave troubles at the “office.”

The impact on spouses

Spouses who remain at home have their own share of stressors. They may fixate on the uncertainty of never knowing when or if their partners will return. The partners of service members that have dangerous duties might continually be in fear for their spouse’s safety. Those who wait while their husbands or wives serve long deployments may start to resent their responsibility of the housework and child-rearing.

The impact on the relationship

When the military partner returns home, all may not be well. Erratic schedules may have resulted in the service member missing important family events and once-in-a-lifetime milestones. Those who have experienced trauma are often encouraged to talk about their experiences, and if they do so with their spouses, it could cause them vicarious trauma. When these factors combine with the common problems faced in civilian marriages, there’s no doubt that military couples face serious hurdles if they want to make their marriages last.