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Coping with marital stress in the military

Many California households include one or two parents currently serving in the U.S. military. If your household is one of them, then no one has to tell you how challenging it can be to balance career issues with family life, especially those affecting your marriage. While studies show military personnel may not be generally more prone to divorce as once thought, there are definitely risk factors that make marital break-up a likelier outcome for members of the nation's armed forces.  

Your unit superiors hopefully discuss such matters with you and provide helpful resources that you can tap into if problems arise. If you determine your marriage is no longer viable and choose to seek divorce, you'll want to first seek clarification of your rights as well as any implications your military service may have on your situation.  

Risk factors for married couples in the military 

All marriages have ups and downs; however, if you and/or your spouse are in the military, the following issues may impact your relationship more often or more intensely than a non-military couple: 

  • It is not uncommon for military marriages to undergo stress when the spouse left at home during active service feels lonely or isolated. 
  • Couples that are separated for long periods of time due to deployment are at great risk for marital infidelity. 
  • One spouse or the other may build up resentment, either with the military spouse lamenting the fact that he or she must leave home or the spouse at home resenting the fact his or her partner is not there to help with children, finances or other matters. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder following active duty, especially combat, is a major factor that often leads military couples to divorce. 
  • Those who try to keep their marriages intact often suffer stress when dealing with the aftermath of a spouse's emotional or physical injuries.  

It helps to speak with other military spouses, faith leaders on or off base, or licensed counselors who can offer advice as to how to cope with some of these issues. If you're considering divorce, you'll want to make sure you have a solid military family care plan in place.

If you have questions regarding child custody, support or other issues that may or may not be included in your plan, you can find answers by talking to someone well versed in family law, especially as it intersects with military procedure.

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