Saturday, February 20, 2010

# military life

Military Divorce rate increases!

I was sitting here with my coffee cup doing what I do every morning, reading the news, browsing blogs etc, when an article from the NY Daily News caught my attention. Mind you, it's not new, it's from November of 2009, but it still made me stop in my tracks.

It reads "Military Marriage divorce rate increases in 2009".

"Every marriage has controllable and uncontrollable factors," Davis said. "But when you interject eight years of war, preparing for war, being at war, coming home and having to think about going back to war again — and when you have children — it just has a tremendous impact on the family unit."

I'm a military wife, it's a known fact that divorce among military families is high, it's not a secret, it's not a shock, it just is, unfortunately.

But reading this article made me stop and think about my own marriage and the struggles and hurdles we've faced along the years. We have been married for 11 years, going on 12 in August and I can tell you that it hasn't been easy.

To say that I had no idea what I was getting into when we first exchanged vows, would be an understatement, sure my husband told me about the deployments and the long hours and the commitment to the military, they come first, always. But it's one thing to hear these things and quite another to actually live it.

We had our ups and downs and I'm going to be completely open here and maybe even shock some of my family members with the truth that we did come very close to a divorce.

A marriage is comprised of two people, two human beings trying their hardest to support each other, to learn to co-exist with habits and quirky little mundane things that at first seem nothing but left to fester, can turn into huge unsurpassable mountains.

There is a huge strain that goes into a military marriage, I can tell you that to this day, I sometimes feel like I'm a single mother with no help whatsoever, and I'm not blaming my husband, I blame the circumstances around us and the life that we lead, because as rewarding as it is and as much as I feel that we as a family unit are contributing to something worthwhile, I also feel that the same family unit is neglected by the Military.

Often times in the heat of an argument I have told my husband that he needs to realize and remember that when the military life is gone, it is US, our family that will remain. That when something goes wrong in life, that when a family member passes or an illness takes us by surprise, it's not the military that steps in and comforts him, it's me, it's his children, it's the same people who are so often forgotten and taken for granted.

We went through some very rough patches, mostly around the first 3 years of marriage, it was a push and pull, a constant fight for control. In a way it was as if I was rebelling against the military life, I hated it, I wanted it to end, I wanted to be heard and I wanted to feel like I mattered.

I wanted the military to say something, to reach out and comfort me, to for once put aside their need for the jets to be fixed on a weekend when they're not even flying, to stop taking my husband away from me and the kids, to stop canceling our plans, to stop interfering with vacations, to stop calling when he's on leave because they can't seem to find this or fix that.

I was at the breaking point, I was dealing with all these stresses, I was going through two miscarriages and I was sitting at home, broken, alone, depressed and heart broken, without a driver's licence, depending on other military wives for rides to the commissary to get groceries for me and my two year old.

I blamed him, I blamed the military, I blamed myself "how could I have been so stupid, what was I thinking moving thousands of miles away from my family, from my support system to come to a new country where I would be alone for months on end?".

It was rough and I took it out on him and he took it out on me, and I don't need to divulge all the intimate details of our life, but we came to a point where we both said "enough, we need to stop this and go our separate ways". It came to a halt when I actually removed my wedding rings and threw it across the room at him. Yes, I did, I admit it and I'm not proud of it, but I think everyone can relate to that one point in time where you just explode and can't take it anymore.

But that was also the turning point. I realized that I needed to stop trying to change him, I had no idea the toll that my harsh words and actions were taking on him. From my perspective I was the only one in pain, I was the only one suffering and upset at the lack of family time and alone time, I didn't even stop to think that maybe, just maybe he was feeling the same if not more than I.

It's so easy to break the trust, to fall into someone else's arms when your husband is deployed. You miss him, you miss the closeness, you miss having someone around and if you're not careful and not strong in your marriage, if you see someone else that is willing to give you that emotional and physical comfort, it's easy to take it. Thankfully neither Curt nor I have ever done that, yes separations are excruciating but we hold on to the love we have for one another and count down the days until we are safe in each others arms.

It's been a long journey but we both sat down and expressed our feelings and emotions, it wasn't pretty, I heard a lot of things I didn't want to hear, me, the perfect little housewife was not exactly that perfect, I had my flaws and when I heard from his perspective what I was doing to him by means of words, it sunk in that I was playing a huge part in the decimation of our marriage.

We've both learned to not take each other for granted, we work hard at our marriage and we've also given up the control to God. We've stumbled across the way, we had to learn to forgive, we had to learn to restore the trust that was close to breaking permanently, but mostly, we had to learn to be open, to communicate and to realize that just because we may not like something that is happening around us, we do not have the right to take it out on each other.

We hit rock bottom, but we stood back up, brushed ourselves off and vowed to recommit to our family, to each other.

We don't have a perfect marriage, but for the past 7 years we've come to a place of understanding, of loving, of knowing that no matter what the military may throw our way, or what life may drop at our feet, we are strong, we love each other and we can get through anything.

I'm blessed, I'm extremely blessed to have such a wonderful man for a husband. A man that walks in through the door at 2am or 3am, drops his keys and walks into our bedroom, to kiss me, to tell me he's home, to tell me he loves me.....jet fuel laced hands and all. A man who then quietly walks into his childrens rooms and plants a kiss on their sweet sleeping faces.

A man who not only has to deal with all the worries and frustrations that I as a military wife do, but double that because he's a soldier, he knows what his duty is, he knows what he sacrifices daily and he doesn't like being taken from his family to a place of war thousands of miles away. We may think we have it hard at home, but just stop for a second and think about them and the struggles they face daily, they are men, they want to be home, they want to be taking care of their family and be there to fix things and they can't. It's not easy!

So in closing this post, I just want to tell you all out there, military families or not, that when things seem to be at a breaking point and when there seems to be no way out, breathe. Stop.....calm down.....think!

If you love each other, keep God in your relationship and life and never give up, it will get better. I'm sending out hugs and prayers to you all, to any military wife AND husband that may be feeling that there's no way out but divorce, to any wife and husband PERIOD, who feel stuck in a hard place, who feel they can't go on. I'm praying for you!


  1. I so appreciate your candor and honesty. These are struggles that all married couples have and I am sure are ten fold for a military marriage. We are naturally so selfish and involved in our own heads that we forget to step outside ourselves and look at things from the perspective of this person we love and to whom we have promised to devote ourselves. Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement. Your family will be in my prayers. Your sacrifices are appreciate by we who enjoy the freedoms your husband is protecting. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I wish more couples would sit and work out their problems like you guys were able to do. Too many people just give up without a fight, and it's sad. =)

  3. Thank you so much for such an honest and beautiful post!

  4. Sandra ~ Just when I needed to hear this, to see some that another military wife has the exact same feelings and frustrations I do. We are up for re-enlistment, this is do or die time. Does he stay in for the career or get out. The military and I have not been getting along lately and I have taken it out on my husband. I am not proud of it but it happens a lot. You see he wasn't in the military when we married. This was NEVER part of the plan. I resent being moved all over and taken away from my family. I resent him leaving and me being left behind with no friends, no family. I resent him going to exotic locals and going on tourist day trips without a care in the world while I sit at home being the single parent. To say I am frustrated is an understatement. Each command we have been stationed at has shown me more and more the dirty side of family life in the military. SO many military members cheat on their spouses. Trust in a military marriage is so hard.

    THANK YOU for taking the time to post this. Please keep me in your prayers and I'll do the same.


  5. What a great post, Sandra. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great post...and so very true.

    We managed over 15 years with the perfect marriage. Then came 9/11 and 6 years of deployments.

    It destroyed our relationship.

    But we fought and made it through. Thankfully he was able to find an assignment that took him out of the deployments because I had nothing else to give. I needed a break. And surviving a rebellious teenage son that was so ANGRY with his father always gone....gosh, I hate to even think on those years.

    But we all must remember that love is not that feeling that hollywood sells us. Its a choice. Its a decision. It is not just a feeling.

    And I can't agree more with the shock at how unfaithful the military families are. But its easy to figure out....the opportunity is in your face much more than the average 9-5 families. Its so very sad.

  7. I am so thankful to the men and the women that are in the Military, but your post made me realize that we need to be thankful for the families in the Military as well. So, Curt, Sandra, Jasmine and Nicholas...thank you!

  8. Your post just gives so much hope to people in similar circumstances.It just takes one person to be courageous and honest and to reassure that there is always hope and choice even in the blackest times. Others are then encouraged and know they are not alone and begin to choose to deal with stuff. Thank you for your honesty and bless you. Know the Lord must be using you with other military wives.

  9. Thank you for sharing this. Marriage means work and too many miss that point.

    You shared something unique to you and those in the same position. I can only imagine the extra challenges. Much happiness to you.

  10. What insightful comments you all have made and I thank you for sharing. I am currently studying ways to help military families, to strengthen marriages and parenting practices in order to stay whole during and after active duty. All ideas are welcome and important.

  11. Robert4:46 AM

    When me and my wife separated through divorce, we had no choice but to settle arrangements when it comes to co-parenting. We have 2 young kids and we don't want them to suffer just because we needed to part ways. So me and my ex-wife are working hand in hand to take care of the kids. My wife also bought co-parenting planner/organizer from which really is of big help in this process. Hopefully we'll get things flowing smoothly as planned. Thanks for sharing this! :)

  12. I was glad to read your post. I was looking up military statistics online for divorce rates. My husband is in afghan and they upped his hours to 12 hrs a day 7 days a week. Combine that with my physical problem and its not good. Plus we are both being selfish. This post gave me some hope. We've bought books and ... other things to liven up our marriage and help ourselfs and so far its only gotten worse. But its good to know I'm not alone. I read about the army offering support and classes and groups but I'm all alone here in Las Cruces, NM. NO friends and family and like you I resent it. I want to leave all the time. Maybe like you it will get better once he is here and we can work through things together.

  13. Anonymous7:55 AM

    I'm new to the military life. I have always been a supporter of our troops, but not the military. My husband does not plan on "getting out." We thought it would be easy because we love each other so much. Then his first deployment came along.
    I think your post should be read by many wives/husbands at any stage in their marriage. Your honesty and insight is valuable. We are not Christian, but you do have to give up your struggles. Letting go of little things and having faith in each other has kept our marriage strong.
    Peace and love to you, and all others. We must all be strong and forgiving as we help support our countries important mission to spread equal rights around the world.

  14. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Another sad thing to note is that the anger we have can lead us to resent. Getting involved in educating and helping others is a good way to change the anger into gratuity. Statistically, military personnel get married earlier in life, are under the national average in higher education, and have children sooner than couples who are married and not in the service. Cite: NIMH, Harvard culture studies
    Thanks to new GI bills, and various attempts to address these problems, we may see a change.
    Thanks again for publishing such an honest and heart felt tid bit on how to help others to understand military and marriage can go together.

  15. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Wow! This was great to read and something I think every military wife AND husband should read. THANK you, THANK YOU, thank you :)

    Army Wife

  16. Anonymous1:09 PM

    It ws nice to read what I am feeling and I am so happpy that you were able to get through it.

    I am a milspouse at the breaking point now. LIke one of the other comment posters here, I never agreed to any of this. In face, I was promised the opposite life. My husband has had a chance to get out and he won't/can't/and is damaged mentally so much that I dont even recognize him. He cheats, he lies, he wont communicate with me and I am not sure what to do. My question to you is, what do you do when you are willing to fight but your spouse isnt? I used to believe that marriage was special and our vows were never to be broken. I loved this man with everything I had and really believed he was my one and only. Now, not so sure.

  17. Anonymous9:28 PM

    Why do they even choose the military? I never would have said yes if I knew he'd later decide he wanted to gallivant off to the military. He's daily choosing it over me, and now he wants to stay even longer. We were almost home free, so I thought. If I let it come down to me or this horrid lifestyle he's chosen for us, he's choosing the military. And I just wonder, Why?

  18. Wow great post. We have been married for 15 years and have been in the Marine Corps for 15 years. It has been an up and down roller coaster of emotions all through out. Combat deployment after deployment while Lorraine stays home with the four children. The stress does build up. We would say the key is communication. Express every concern, every interest, every thing because that really is your best friend. Our hats off to the military families who are great examples to the rest of the world. Divorce rate is ridiculous. Stay strong and be great!

  19. Anonymous5:01 AM

    THANK YOU!!! I'm sitting here in my robe at 4:30 in the morning in a very dark place emitionally. I dont know if we will make it but your honesty and courage are inspiring. Reading your post was like you could look into my heart and see every hurt and scare. I atually consider myself a very strong person but we all have a breaking point. Thank you for sharing your story. It is exactly what I needed to hear.


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