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Do military couples last?

Marriage in the military comes with its own unique challenges. The frequent moves, long deployments, and high operational tempo can put immense strain on military relationships. With the demands of military service, do these couples stand a chance? Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors impacting military marriages and whether they are built to last.

Long Separations

One of the biggest stressors for military couples is the long separations due to training and deployments. On average, active duty service members are apart from their spouses for 100-250 days per year. Being separated for months on end requires couples to essentially live two separate lives and maintain a long-distance relationship. This makes it difficult to share in day-to-day emotional support, parenting, and household responsibilities.

Studies show that long separations can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness in military spouses at home. The absent partner also worries about missing important events and not being there to support their family during an emergency or crisis. All of these factors can put a strain on intimacy and communication.

However, many military couples report that separations have helped them to grow stronger and more independent. Having time apart forces both partners to carry more weight and solve problems independently. It also makes the time they are together more meaningful. Being resilient through long periods apart seems to be at the core of military relationships.

Coping with Separations

  • Maintain frequent communication through calls, texts, video chats
  • Share details of your daily life and activities to stay connected
  • Schedule virtual date nights for quality time together
  • Seek support from other military spouses and families
  • Stay busy and maintain daily routines when apart
  • Reconnect through intimacy when reunited

Frequent Relocations

Military families move on average every 2-3 years, due to reassignments and new duty stations. This frequent relocation can disrupt stability in relationships. Picking up to move across the country or overseas means finding new schools, jobs, friends, and community supports. The stress of continually restarting in new places puts strain on military couples.

However, studies indicate that how well couples adapt, communicate, and work together through moves strongly determines their marital success. Viewing new assignments as adventures and exploring together helps unite couples through PCS transitions. Shared coping skills are critical.

Many military spouses become adept at getting settled in new places, making friends, and adjusting careers. Their flexibility, resourcefulness, and resilience helps stabilize relationships through repeated relocations.

Moving Tips for Military Couples

  • Talk through expectations, concerns, and game plan
  • Share responsibilities for packing, cleaning, childcare
  • Explore the new location together online beforehand
  • Focus on the positives of fresh starts and new experiences
  • Unify as a team during the stress of moving
  • Make exploring the new place a shared activity

Support During Deployments

Deployments are especially challenging with risks to emotional and mental health for military couples. Being sent to combat zones under dangerous conditions puts service members at risk for trauma and psychological injuries. Their partners at home also suffer from constant anxiety, household overload, and loneliness.

Having open communication about needs and feelings during deployment is critical. Being able to ask for help, share honestly, and offer true empathy reduces isolation. Military spouses say that setting expectations about frequency of contact, roles during absence, and how to handle emergencies relieves stress.

Sharing details about what each partner is experiencing day-to-day maintains intimacy and connection despite the distance. Emotional and social support from fellow military spouses, families, and the community also provides a lifeline during deployments.

Supporting Your Spouse During Deployment

  • Communicate often to share feelings, news, and check-in
  • Understand their experience without judgment
  • Seek counseling if needed to cope with absence
  • Share daily life details to bridge the distance
  • Find community and buddy support systems
  • Take care of yourself – don’t become isolated

Post-Deployment Transition

The return home after deployment comes with its own relationship challenges. Military couples need to relearn how to live together and bond again as a family. Service members may return withdrawn, on edge, or changed from difficult combat experiences. Their partners have usually become more independent and established new routines.

Reintegrating requires patience, empathy, and open communication from both sides. Understanding each other’s experiences while apart and readjusting to new roles can take time. Seeking counseling to work through readjustment issues, trauma, grief, and relationship strain can help.

Many military couples treat this transition period as a chance to renew their commitment and appreciation for one another. The key seems to be moving forward together rather than separately.

Tips for Post-Deployment

  • Move through reintegration slowly and communicate
  • Acknowledge both of your transition experiences
  • Rebalance roles and responsibilities together
  • Seek counseling to work through any trauma
  • Make intimacy and quality time a priority
  • Give each other grace, empathy and space

Financial Pressures

Money issues impose hardships for many military families. Frequent moves makes consistent employment challenging for military spouses. One estimate found military spouses have 24% lower earnings than civilian peers. Lower relative income means relying more heavily on the service member.

However, military pay is modest, especially for junior enlisted ranks. Additional expenses like housing, childcare, and healthcare strains family budgets. Debt and financial stress can create relationship tensions and arguments.

Military couples who communicate openly about money, budget together, and share financial responsibility seem to navigate these pressures most effectively. Seeing finances as a shared challenge to tackle together maintains teamwork.

Improving Military Family Finances

  • Openly communicate about money concerns
  • Make budgeting decisions jointly
  • Take advantage of military discounts and benefits
  • Consider spouse career options on or off base
  • Look into education benefits to advance careers
  • Seek financial counseling to improve money management

Social Isolation

The frequent moves and deployments of military life often displace couples from close family and friendship networks. Left alone during long periods apart, military spouses may struggle with social isolation. Diminished social support not only takes an emotional toll, it eliminates childcare help and emergency assistance.

Developing community connections at each new duty base is essential. Forging friendships with other military families offers spouses built-in social support. Taking advantage of Family Readiness Groups and other on-base activities combats isolation.

The camaraderie of military communities creates a shared sense of purpose and belonging. This acts as a protective factor strengthening relationships despite frequent dislocation.

Building Community as a Military Family

  • Attend on-base mixers, clubs, events together
  • Join spouse groups and Family Readiness Groups
  • Reach out to neighbors and get to know the community
  • Take classes to connect with others who share interests
  • Plan regular video calls with extended family
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support when needed

Infidelity Risk

With frequent separations placing strain on military couples, are they at higher risk for cheating? Research on this issue shows mixed results.

Some studies have found infidelity rates in the military do tend to be slightly higher than among civilians. However, military wives report lower rates of cheating than their deployed husbands. 20% of deployed men reported extramarital sex compared to around 10% of wives at home.

Other research indicates military marriages are no more likely to experience infidelity than others. The rate mirrors about 16% to 22% of civilian marriages reporting adultery. Factors like honesty, intimacy, and partnership seem more predictive than military status alone.

The combat trauma, PTSD, depression, and substance abuse affecting some returning service members do elevate risk of domestic violence and infidelity. Effective counseling, communication, and support systems counteract these effects.

Infidelity Warning Signs

  • Emotional distance, isolation, lack of communication
  • Arguments about commitment, intimacy, trust
  • Decreased interest in quality time together
  • One partner withdrawing or secretive about activities
  • Flirtatious relationships outside the marriage
  • Failure to check-in during separations

Coping Strategies

Being part of a military family introduces unique complications and stressors affecting couples. However, research indicates military marriages fare about as well as civilian ones over time. The keys are commitment, communication, and coping skills.

Military life self-selects for adaptability since it necessitates managing frequent change. Couples able to flexibly adjust together and tackle challenges as a team report the highest satisfaction. A shared sense of purpose and working through hardships unites them.

Seeking support, engaging with military communities, sharing emotional burdens, and highlighting the positives enables martial endurance. With effort and resilience, military couples can stand the tests of time apart, transitions, and trauma.

Keys to Military Marriage Success

  • Commitment to each other through ups and downs
  • Open, honest communication and intimacy
  • Shared coping strategies and teamwork
  • Flexibility, adaptability, resilience
  • Using community and counseling supports
  • Focusing on friendship and partnership
Military Marriage Factors Potential Negative Impact Protective Strategies
Long separations Loneliness, depression, weakened intimacy Frequent communication, shared activities, date nights
Frequent relocations Instability, disconnect from supports Joint involvement in moves, exploring together
Deployments Trauma, anxiety, role confusion Openness, counseling, community support
Financial problems Stress, arguments over money Shared budgeting and planning
Social isolation Loneliness, lack of emergency support Military community belonging
Infidelity risks Betrayal, lack of trust Transparency, intimacy maintenance


Military marriages clearly face distinctive trials like extended time apart, frequent relocation, and the strains of deployment. However, military couples exhibit remarkable resilience. Their commitment gets tested under pressure, and many emerge stronger.

Military spouses speak about how dealing with obstacles together deepens their relationship. The camaraderie and support of military communities also empower couples under duress.

While frequent separation and reintegration poses challenges, adapting successfully and united seems to be the hallmark of military relationships. With higher purpose, flexibility, communication and support systems, military couples can pass the tests and trials of military life.