While many find it better to leave their work at the office, successful marriages often include sharing those day-to-day events. In fact, very few can completely turn off their work life when they come home, and the ability to talk about daily stresses and complaints with a loving spouse somehow makes them easier to bear.
However, when service members hold special security clearances, many areas of their lives must remain secret from their spouses. Keeping such secrets from a loved one is stressful, and you may find it difficult that your most intimate partner must withhold details of his or her life.
When secrets are necessary
As you know, unlike many other service members who have fewer deployments for longer periods of time, those in Special Operations or Special Forces may have short deployments of two or three months at a time. Your spouse may deploy for a dozen or more missions during his or her military service. In addition to knowing few details about your loved ones' missions, as the spouse of a service member working in either Special Forces or Special Operations, you may face other areas of uncertainty, such as:
- Never knowing when the next mission or deployment will occur
- Not knowing where your spouse is going
- Not knowing how long the deployment will last
- Not understanding the level of danger involved in the missions
As a spouse left behind, you must deal with the loneliness and uncertainty, but your service member spouse may struggle with the demands of his or her position. With no outlet for the trauma they experience, some turn to alcohol, drugs, risky behaviors or infidelity to cope with the emotions. This often leads to a breakdown in a marriage.
Trying to make it work
Those in Special Forces or Special Operations face a disproportionately high divorce rate. Nevertheless, some military couples are able to create ways to make their marriages work by focusing on the things they can share and creating common experiences. Some couples have found this successful, and they encourage other military couples to engage in as much conversation as possible during the time that have together.
While this is the ideal, it is not easy. When your spouse is trained to remain unemotional and uncommunicative, it takes its toll on a marriage. Both spouses must commit to communicating, and often, the tension of the secrets is too much. As much as you, as a civilian spouse, may try to understand the need for confidentiality, it may be too great a challenge to remain married to a spouse whose job requires keeping secrets.