Military life is rough on a marriage. Deployments, repeated moves, short-notice TDYs or
The good news is that the US military divorce rate is approximately 3% to 3.1%. This marks a period of relative stability, with divorce rates hovering in this range for the last four years. It also is fairly comparable with the average US divorce rate of 3.2%.
Part of this change, from an all time high of 3.7% in 2011 during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, could be due to marriage supports and programs available to military couples.
Assistance for Military Families Who Want to Strengthen Their Marriage
The military, across all branches, has recognized that the deployment tempo and other stressors of this life play a role in marital stress. Repeated deployments to combat zones, unaccompanied overseas assignments and short-notice assignments can all be extremely stressful. For spouses, they might be dealing with the additional stressors of employment uncertainty and frequent stints as a solo parent.
Having resources and opportunities to strengthen your military marriage is crucial to
Your military base might have additional resources not listed here.
Each service offers weekend retreat options designed to help strengthen and renew military marriages.
Marriage Care is an Air Force program offered over the course of a weekend. It is open to all active duty, reserve and Guard Air Force personnel.
The Army offers Strong Bonds, a program that helps families and couples build resiliency to deal with the rigors of military life. Programs are offered for couples, families and unmarried individuals.
CREDO is the marriage and family program offered to Marines, Sailors and the Coast Guard. Programs are offered at 10 locations around the world with varying themes to meet different needs. These are spiritually-based retreats.
Military marriage retreats are offered at no cost across all services. Child care may or may not be provided, so be sure to make arrangements as needed. Registration is first come, first served. Many retreats fill up quickly and are in high demand.
MFLC Couples Counseling
Every military base offers confidential counseling via Military Family Life Counselors (MFLCs). While many know about their individual counseling sessions, couples counseling is also available.
Each session is 100% confidential, with no notes taken and no files created. The MFLCs are all trained and licensed counselors, some specializing in marital counseling.
Counseling is free and available on an as-needed basis. Contact the MFLC office on your base (search your base + MFLC) to book your first appointment.
Religious Couples Counseling
If you and your spouse have a strongly faith-based relationship, you might also seek confidential help from a trusted chaplain or other religious leader.
To get started, contact your religious leader to schedule an appointment. Your sessions will be largely faith-based and work to strengthen your marriage by grounding it in religious beliefs and resources.
Faith-based counseling services vary by base and individual chaplain.
Other Counseling Options
Your marital enrichment is not limited to CREDO retreats, MFLC counseling or sessions with a chaplain. There are several other counseling and marriage strengthening programs available to military couples.
MilitaryOneSource can connect you with a trained counselor via online or phone-based non-medical counseling. Sessions are free and confidential.
You can schedule your first session by calling 800-342-9647. Phone lines are open 24/7.
DIY Support Options
Our military lifestyle is super busy, leaving almost no extra time to spare. If that sounds like your family, you can also DIY marital strengthening programs!
- Love Every Day: a website that sends you and your spouse
promptsdaily. They might be random acts of kindness, questions or other activities designed to strengthen your marriage.
- Couples Therapy Workbook: a workbook, by Kathleen Mates-Youngman, designed to facilitate conversations that will ultimately strengthen and grow your relationship.
- Love Dare: a prompt-based couples journal that “dares” you to commit to mindful, purposeful acts of love every day for 30 days.
- 5 Love Languages: learning how you best receive and give love so that you can be intentional in how you demonstrate your affection to your partner.
What Happens If…
Truth time: marriage is hard and takes work. Sometimes, even counseling and retreats aren’t enough to get back on track or heal a relationship.
If you find yourself headed down this road, there are also resources that can help you navigate this next chapter.
- MilitaryOneSource: contact non-medical counseling to talk to a counselor about your feelings. It can help you to process what’s happening and to make a plan for the next step.
- MFLC: working with a counselor in person can help you to process your journey and create a plan to move forward.
- JAG: contact your local JAG office for guidance about military divorce proceedings. Your JAG office can represent one party in a divorce, but not both. They may not represent you in civil court.
- Branch-Specific Supports: each military branch provides specific supports and created certain regulations that govern military divorce. Contact your JAG office or unit commander for more information or resources.