Marriage, Divorce, and Military Families
Marriage is a conduit through which God's grace flows to the couple and their children. The church understands marriage between a man and woman to be a sacrament, a visible sign of the grace that God gives them to help them live their lives here and now so as to be able to join him in eternity. Marriage is social as well as religious, but its religious aspects are very important. The Bible repeatedly compares the relationship between man and wife to that between God and Israel or between Christ and his Church. For marriage is a holy vocation. Since the Church sees marriage as holy, it believes it must be treated with reverence. It also recognizes that marriage is basic to the health of society and therefore a public institution that must be defended against harm. Marriage is a public institution. Consequently, proposals that could harm the institution of marriage must be subjected to the same sort of objective analysis that we give any public policy question. Marriage is not just a private matter of emotion between two people. On the contrary, its success or failure has measurable impact on all of society. Rational analysis yields solid, objective reasons for limiting marriage to one man and one woman-reason anyone can agree with on purely secular grounds (Zinn, B. M., D. Eitzen, S., Wells, B., 2008). However, one of the downsides to redefining marriage would be the weakening of the meaning of marriage, which would be divorces. Human nature being what it is, if the meaning of marriage is weakened, it will be psychologically easier for even more people to divorce. Look at what happened when "no-fault" divorce was legalized. The divorce rate skyrocketed. If the nature of marriage is further undermined in the minds of couples then when things get rocky, more couples will be tempted not to work through their problems and get happy again but rather to divorce and find someone else (Hogan, P., & Seifert, R., 2010). That is a bad idea, because most marriage therapists agree that divorce generally "doesn't work." Divorce doesn't solve the problems that caused the first marriage to break up. Divorced people bring the same problems to their new marriages that broke up their old ones. That's why second and later marriages are statistically far more likely to end in divorce than first marriages are. Also, a large majority of couples who contemplate divorce but stay together describe themselves as "happily married" five years later. So staying together "works" better than divorce. The Romans had an interesting view towards marriage – ‘matrimonia debent esse libera’ or ‘marriages ought to be free’. This meant that either spouse could opt out of the marriage if things weren’t working out for them. Centuries later, Victorian England had a vastly different view (Bouvier, 1856). People got married and stayed together for better or for worse. Society frowned on divorce and divorced people were likely to find themselves social pariahs. In the present century, both these views prevail. It depends on which part of the planet you live in and in what kind of culture. “Divorce rates are higher in European or American countries, where individual freedom is given higher stress, than in, say, Asian or African ones, where familial and social opinions cause higher stress. With globalization, of course, the ‘backward’ countries are catching up. Women, especially, with access to higher education and higher salaries, are less willing to put up with traditional roles and expectations” (Devine). Social and cultural moralists are having a field day, predicting, like always, dire consequences for the ‘social fabric’. No, divorce isn’t joy-inducing, but then neither is a corrosive marriage. In such a case, splitting up is preferable to staying together ‘for the children’ or to keep up social appearances. Anyway, it all really depends upon the kind of relationship you have. Some relationships are worth working on, some aren’t. There are many different and complex causes and reasons for divorce, each of them specific to that particular couple’s marital relationship, their individual experiences and personal problems. None of them may seem ‘common’ to the people going through a divorce, of course, but many of the reasons recur enough to warrant the term. These causes for divorce may vary from the lack of commitment to the marriage to the lack of communication between spouses; infidelity; abandonment; Physical, sexual, or even Substance Abuse, etc. Furthermore, it takes a very special person to stand and accept that the rest of their lives are devoted to something larger than themselves and their own little worlds. It takes an incredible commitment and an enduring love to withstand a life supporting someone else who may not be there by their beside on days when you are feeling blue, and who may not hold you in those times when the life around you is not so sweet. Now, marriage is hard enough, there are times when all husbands and wives question the sanity of a relationship that requires such hard work. Couples get through this by being together and keeping at it as a team. Sadly, many military relationships do not have this luxury of being together to keep things on track. This is when the military husband or wife just has to sort through “couple issues” alone (Rentz et al, 2007). Only the strongest committed individual can carry the weight of two in a relationship, and it takes a strong intimate trusting bond to make it at all possible. The military eases the lives of service members and their families in some very significant ways. Paychecks are regular. Benefits, such as healthcare and legal assistance, are unparalleled in the civilian world. And, in a time of economic uncertainty, the job security provided by the armed forces is a true blessing (Rentz et al, 2007). However, every positive aspect of military life is matched by at least one negative, especially for married service members and their families. Military and civilian marriages face the same marriage-stressors and marriage-killers, but the challenges faced by military marriages are both compounded and additional (Banner, 2008). Danielle Rentz and associates argues that the impact and stress of war may occur before, during, and after deployment and extend beyond the military soldier to include stress and emotional disturbance for his or her family. Anticipation of deployment can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and hurt within the family. Separation during deployment may create the assumption of new family roles by the partner left behind, disruption of family routines, uncertainty about the service member’s safety, and the inability to plan for the future (Rentz et al, 2007). They base their discussion on the research and studies on the Effect of Deployment on the Occurrence of Child Maltreatment in Military. Betty Myers writes a testimony of her days married to a military man and unravels a story from past that lead to divorce. Her story is yet another cause for divorce within a military family. The stress of war and unknowing of what occurs to a spouse takes a toll on a marriage. This is a testimony of her personal experience and this will assist my paper for the causes of divorce (Myers, 1988). Bennington Banner analyzes the statistical data of military divorce rate in every branch of the Arm Forces. He states that the long and repeated deployments required of many troops have been widely blamed for unprecedented stresses on military couples. Spouses at home must manage families and households without their partner. He concluded that there were an estimated 10,200 failed marriages in the active duty Army and 3,077 among Marines, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press for the budget year ended Sept. 30. His data can help me prove the point that the numbers of divorce in the Arm Forces are staggering (Banner, 2008). Joseph Devine explains that military marriages undergo a very specific set of strains. They face the possibility of sudden moves to far-off locales, rapid deployments, and even premature death. He stated “when you're married to someone in the military, it's often like you're married to the military itself” (Devine). Your life revolves around what the military wants from you and your spouse, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. In summary, the ways in which each military marriage survives are all personal and unique to their own, but the emotional journey is one that can really be understood only by another military spouse (Hogan, P., & Seifert, R., 2010). The one thing all military spouses have in common with each other is their ultimate pride in their husbands and wives, and to survive the journey as a military spouse, their shared pride of place alongside their incredible military husbands and wives. While military marriages are an entity of their own, the non-military couples could learn many things from them. The special goodbyes for instance are important. A military husband or wife knows the value of not leaving issues unresolved, and has learned the art of letting the silly things go (Hogan, P., & Seifert, R., 2010). They do not have until the afternoon, or the next day or the day after that to get over it, they are too aware that tomorrow is unpredictable. A military marriage does not have the time to wallow in unimportant debate. The most important thing to them is to be sure to let the one they love know that they are appreciated. Petty unimportant arguments have a way of clouding the unconditional love that holds a marriage together.
Banner, B. Divorce rate up in Army, Marine Corps. (2008, December 3). Retrieved February 3, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1606239161). Bouvier, J. (1856). Matrimonia debent esse libera. (n.d.) A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. Retrieved April 27 2010 from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Matrimonia+debent+esse+libera Devine, J. Divorce and the Military. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?Divorce- and-the-Military&id=3605202
Hogan, P., & Seifert, R.. (2010). Marriage and the Military: Evidence That Those Who Serve Marry Earlier and Divorce Earlier. Armed Forces and Society, 36(3), 420. Retrieved May 4, 2010, from Career and Technical Education. (Document ID: 2002732321). Myers, B. (1988). Story Of A Thrown-Away Military Wife. Minerva, VI(2), 77. Retrieved February 3, 2010, from ProQuest Central. (Document ID: 624746591). Rentz, E. D., Marshall, W. S., Loomis, D, Casteel, C., Martin, S. L., & Gibbs, D. A. (2007). Effect of Deployment on the Occurrence of Child Maltreatment in Military and Nonmilitary Families. American Journal of Epidemiology, 165(10), 1199-206. Retrieved February 3, 2010, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 1268687131). Zinn, B. M., D. Eitzen, S., Wells, B., (2008). Divorce and Remarriage. (Ed. 8) Diversity of Families (pp. 393- 410). Prentice Hall