Do military couples experience infidelity more often, less often, or as often as their civilian counterparts? Is the military community somehow prone to higher rates of cheating? Who’s more likely to have an affair – the service member or the spouse?
Even if you’ve never personally cheated or been cheated on, chances are, you know someone who has. Shoot, I’ve been a milspouse for 18 years and I’ve yet to meet a military couple who hasn’t been touched by infidelity in some form or another.
Infidelity is a problem that we don’t talk about at unit family days, learn about at the family service centers, or hear about when new resiliency classes are taught. We only hear about them after a friend has one too many glasses of wine, through a flood of tears when they can’t hold it in any longer. It’s often only whispered about in dark corners, or in the presence of a therapist. In short, it’s a taboo topic.
When we do hear about it in a public forum, we mostly see it in the form of an infidelity article written in the first person or on social media. There are plenty of keyboard warriors that scour the internet searching for the perfect post to spew the stereotypes they’ve built up in their heads: “all service members cheat” or “all spouses cheat”…and we all know you can’t argue with trolls. But here’s the thing: there’s NO WAY to know anything for certain unless someone studies this problem.
You can’t study a problem unless you acknowledge that there IS a problem.
The issue of infidelity isn’t unique to military marriage, but the outcome of cheating can become a matter of national security. Think about it: cheating causes marital discord-which impacts Family Readiness-which can compromise Mission Readiness. The DoD and military service branches have spent copious amounts of money on military family programs and marriage support. Over the last few decades, numerous studies have been commissioned that put our marriages under a microscope in order to solve issues that could impact readiness.
Infidelity is barely, if ever, mentioned in any of them. How can infidelity in military marriage ever be addressed if the support systems already in place don’t even mention it?
We already know if we ignore a problem, it will only continue to grow. If military suicide hadn’t been studied, or if mental health issues were brushed off as they were in the past; how much higher would the suicide rate be within the ranks? How many more lives would be lost? So if the issue of infidelity continues to be ignored, how many military marriages will dissolve? How many relationships must be lost before this issue is addressed?