War rattles marital bonds, precipitates military divorce

When wars erupt, the strife on the home front can be as difficult as that on the battlefield; it’s just a different type of stressor. Though some may say absence makes the heart grow fonder, a RAND Corporation survey indicates that this oft-repeated romantic phrase doesn’t hold weight when it comes to military families and the topic of divorce. Whether they come from Texas or Maine, couples who face the separation caused by months (or years) of deployment are at greater risk of divorce than non-military couples.

The RAND study, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), evaluated the relationships of 462,444 enlisted individuals during a nine year period ending in June 2008. Not surprisingly, marital discord increased as the months of deployment dragged on. Thus, more military couples found themselves going through divorce when the spouse(s) returned from war zones and non-hostile areas.

To be sure, divorce rates were higher when one or both spouses had returned from fields of battle where they had engaged in combat. In fact, military personnel who were deployed prior to Sept. 11, 2001, suffered a 28 percent increase in the chance of divorce within any given three-year period. Additionally, women military members coming back faced higher divorce rates than did men in the same position.

Again, this evidence isn’t news to those people who have experienced the difficulty and stress of being away from their spouses for extended periods of time. However, it does open the doors for the DOD to offer counseling to married couples prior to deployment, as well as providing more detailed divorce advice for military families who have decided to end their marriages. The Texas military husbands and wives undergoing this kind of divorce can at least know that they aren’t alone in their decisions.

Source: UTSanDiego.com, Study finds more divorce after longer deployments, Gretel Kovach, Sep. 3, 2013