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Security clearance makes dull dinner conversation

Your marriage has its share of turmoil just like any other. Problems with the children, in-laws, finances and other externals often create stress that you can only resolve when you and your spouse take a quiet moment to talk it over. If your spouse's work is the cause of stress, it may be more difficult to have those important conversations since you may not fully understand the requirements of your spouse's job or the reasons for the pressure.

This scenario is especially true in military families and particularly in those marriages where one spouse serves in Special Operations or Special Forces. The level of secrecy necessary for those working in such positions often makes it difficult for a marriage to survive.

How secrecy corrodes a marriage

Sitting at the dinner table with your spouse, you may often regret that you can't begin a conversation with a simple question like, "How was your day?" Your spouse may desire more than anything to discuss the experiences of the job or the most recent mission, but security forbids it. In addition, the things your spouse has endured while serving this country may be too traumatic or upsetting to share with you.

That secrecy, like any silence in a marriage, may lead to building resentment, suspicion or indifference on your part. Your spouse may also react to the inability to share such an important part of his or her life. Often, a military spouse who cannot release the stress of the job turns to other means of coping, including:

  • Substance abuse
  • Infidelity
  • Dangerous, thrill-seeking activities

The military life is full of uncertainty. You may never know when, where or how long your spouse will deploy. If your spouse is a special service member, you may not be able to communicate with each other much during the deployment. This, along with the secrecy, may forge a deep and wide distance between you.

Ways to cope without risking security

Counselors who specialize in military marriages understand the difficulties you face. They suggest you and your spouse make the most of the time you have together, creating moments and memories that you can share. This may include embracing a California charity or cause about which you are both passionate. You may also wish to connect with other spouses of service members to share your common frustrations.

Of course, there is the real possibility that the stress and strain between you and your military spouse becomes too much to overcome. Divorce among military families is common, and the extraordinary requirements on a civilian spouse can take their toll. In this situation, it will be important to know your rights as a civilian spouse and the protections offered to you in the event that your marriage ends in divorce.

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