Does Military Transition Hurt Your Marriage?

Military Transition

Military transition sounds like career puberty. Everyone is full of dire warnings about what is going to happen, but you really can't image it happening to you and your spouse.

People say you have to start planning your transition two years before you leave the military (even if you are waiting for something like a promotion board before you can even make that decision).

They say your service member turns into a big ol' bear full of bad moods and grousing. They say these are the hardest years on your relationship. They whisper about people who got divorced right after separating from the military.

That's what you hear.

What do we know about transition and marriage?

What do we really know about leaving military life and how it affects your marriage?

Not enough. According to a 2011 PEW study on transition and military, researchers found that 9/11 veterans who were married had a significantly more difficult time adjusting to transition to the civilian world than those who were not married.

The researchers were surprised at that finding. They theorized that because deployments had taken a toll on the marital satisfaction of these vets, they were going into the transition from an unsteady position.

But they didn't ask more questions to find out what was going on with the marriage.

In 2014, the National Military Family Association surveyed spouses directly about transition. They found that 67 percent of spouses felt worried about transition and only 11 percent felt prepared. Nearly half thought their service member's transition was not particularly successful.

While NMFA found out more about what spouses feel they need to know in order to make the transition (check out its findings here), it didn't ask more about the marriage.

That's why we are asking.

In study after study, we find that marriage is associated with greater life satisfaction and better health outcomes. So how does military transition damage your relationship? How do married couples help or hurt each other during transition?

We need you to help us find out. Tell us about it by taking this brief survey for service members and veterans. Or take this survey for spouses.

If you are dual military, you can take both surveys if you like, one from your role as a service member and one from your role as a spouse. We will be reporting the results as they emerge.

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