Your relationships can inspire you to sign up for the military. Perhaps you had a family member who served, and you want to honor their legacy by continuing it. Maybe your cultural background involves government oppression in another country.
It’s even possible that you have parents or grandparents who value a sense of service to the broader community. Some people join the military because it provides them an opportunity to support their parents, spouses and children.
The sad truth is that while military service can be an honorable and noble thing inspired by your love of others, it can also do real damage to your most important relationships.
Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder
The first and most obvious way that military service negatively affects relationships is by separating people. Both during basic training and active-duty deployment, service members may go months without seeing their families and weeks without being able to directly communicate.
During that time, there could be big changes in the family unit or other disruptions that can destabilize the relationship you have with your spouse, children or other family members. It can be difficult to rebuild after extended absences.
It is hard for everyone in the family to feel like certain members aren’t present or actively involved. People may eventually just limit how much emotional attachment they develop toward you because of the inevitable separations that occur.
Trauma and stress can irrevocably change an individual
Military service means working a high-stress, high-demand job over which you have very little control. It also often means putting yourself in harm’s way for the greater good. Both the stress of job responsibilities and the trauma possible during conflict or when responding to disasters can alter someone’s personality.
Those changes can make it hard for people to maintain the same relationships and connections they had prior to enlisting. Some families are able to overcome and rebuild after deployment and military service damages relationships. Other people may have to let go of some relationships.
Service members going through divorce have unique needs. Becoming familiar with those special concerns can help you advocate for yourself should your military service contribute to the end of your marriage.