What the Divorced Military Spouse Wants You to Know


The dreaded “D Word.” The one no one thinks about when they’re standing before friends and family pledging to a lifetime of love. Oddly enough, divorce in the military has been on a slow decline since 2011. But lack of commitment, miscommunication, infidelity and other stressors still manage to crack what was once the solid foundation of marriage.

The military community is tight-knit, and spouses often lean on their own for support and friendship. So what happens to that support system when a military couple gets a divorce?

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Losing the military community sometimes hurts just as badly as losing the marriage.
Sarah, a former Marine Corps spouse told me, “I had a hard time accepting I’d be losing the sense of community, support, and friendship from other spouses. Knowing the comradery and pride that went along with the milspouse title would go away was devastating.”

Sarah went on to describe how her military-connected friendships changed.

“It feels a lot like moving to a new school,” she said. “Some friends immediately write you off. Others say they’ll keep in touch, but never do. It almost makes me feel like they’ve discounted our whole friendship just because my life took this turn.”

It’s not you, it’s me.
One of my military spouse friends recently got divorced. When news circulated around the command and got to me, I reached out to let her know I was thinking of her. I never heard back, and I soon realized she unfriended me and others on social media. As much as that hurt, I’m sure it was the best decision for her.

Michelle, another former military spouse I spoke to, told me she did something similar.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore, or that I never liked them,” she explained. “Removing certain people from my life after my divorce (especially on social media) was the healthiest thing for me–mentally and emotionally. Seeing my milspouse friends post pictures of their happy military marriages was heartbreaking; a constant reminder of what I’d lost.”

My life is not a reality show for you to gawk at.
Most of the military spouses I asked admitted becoming a gossip topic after divorce was tough for them.

Katelyn, a former Coast Guard spouse, said she tried to ignore the gossip.

“It’s hard because I still had friends in my husband’s command, and they’d tell me ‘Oh, so-and-so was talking about you at playgroup yesterday.’ My divorce was devastating to me and my children, and hearing other wives speak negatively, and without merit, about me, hurt badly.”

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Divorce isn’t pretty, and it certainly isn’t a walk in the park. Sarah, Michelle, and Katelyn all agreed on one thing: having one or two people reach out and see how they were made all the difference.

“It made me feel like it wasn’t all about my ex-husband. My life was always focused around him and his job, so knowing that I had some friends who were supportive of me made me truly thankful for the relationships I built during my time as a milspouse,” Michelle shared.

Are you a former military spouse? What would you tell your milspouse friends?

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

2 Comments

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  1. 1
    kejujah

    What I’d advise is to get an excellent attorney who is familiar with military pensions/SBP and has good referrals from previous clients who were military spouses.

  2. 2
    Elaine

    I was taken so by surprise when my 27 year marriage ended in divorce. 26 of those years had been spent in the military. Not being the spouse in the military I was totally cut off from any resources I could have had through them. I did not have an attorney experienced in military divorce. Oh how I wish I had. I insured the retirement monies were mentioned in the divorce. I thought they couldn’t refuse me since I had insured it was in the divorce decree. Little did I know even the wording must be exactly what is desired or they can simply say no. Once it was declined I took all the information to an attorney experienced in military divorce. He demanded 20 thousand dollars to even start on it. Needless to say I did not have this. I even asked a friend who was retired from the military about anyone I could contact. He of course gave me the JAG office information and the base community contact but of course after leaving messages I never heard back from either of them. Just because there are laws to supposedly protect you they are only valid if the military deems them so. Good luck with acquiring the DD214. I truly wish I had the $20 thousand. However since I do not and know of no other recourse I will hope my retirement is sufficient.
    Definitely get an attorney who knows what they are doing and even then check and double check.

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