Saving other peoples’ marriages is not a popular charity. Many people have enough trouble with their own to take action to save anyone else’s. So I will not couch my plea in that vein.
Would you contribute if it was to save a U.S. soldier’s life?
The number of suicides among our current U.S. military is unprecedented. They have at least 400 suicides every year. But 5 times as many are hospitalized attempting suicide. Most of these military personnel are between the age of 19 and 29. The majority have gone through a divorce. And more than half do not have custody of their children.
On U.S. bases that house combat battalions, there is an astronomical divorce rate. On Camp Pendleton Marine Base, it has been reported to be as high as 90% among the “enlisted, combat deployed.” (That is almost everybody.)
The patriotism and commitment to country of our current military personnel is costing them their wives and children. Many of our soldiers, airmen, sailors, medics, corpsmen and Marines have been deployed to combat multiple times. Having served in 5 tours of combat or more is not uncommon these days.
The Hell of divorce is extremely stressful and full of rage, especially when children are concerned. And warriors returning from combat need to relax and get R&R. They definitely do not need to begin a lengthy court battle over child custody. – For some, it is just too much to endure. They choose death, instead of life. And tragically, some take their families with them to begin again in a better place, they think.
Many thousands of military families have been torn apart since answering the Call to Serve. The price they have paid is too much. And it is unnecessary in most cases.
There can be a million different reasons and excuses given for divorce; but, they all boil down to one thing: There is no longer any intimacy. There might be sex. But the fun, laughter, warm hugs and kisses and special moments are gone. Instead there is hurt, anger and often violence.
Patriotic Hearts is a 501c3 that hosts Military Marriage Enrichment Weekends. These are 3 day, all expenses paid marriage retreats for U.S. Military and veterans. Wounded warriors and those enduring combat issues such as PTSD and TBI are first in line.
On the first evening of their retreats, couples meet the hosts individually at first. It is almost always the women who do the talking. — “He is not the same anymore. He never spends time with me. He ignores the kids. He drinks all of the time. We never make love anymore. He isn’t any fun to be with.” – These are examples of what almost every wife will say. –The men, on the other hand, are usually like granite stones: emotionless and silent.
At every retreat there will be several couples who claim that the retreat is their last chance before divorcing. But by Saturday afternoon, usually every couple is embracing, smiling, laughing, looking in eachother’s eyes, and feeling in love again.
On Sunday evening, when they go back home, there is a wedding ceremony for each couple. And even a wedding cake for them to cut beneath a flowering arbor.
They receive a frame with multiple pictures taken of them during the retreat inside it. On the back are the names and phone numbers of the retreat counselors. – Whenever necessary, 24/7, couples are encouraged to call, especially if they are fighting.
After several years of hosting these retreats, Patriotic Hearts has had phenomenal success. They have only been able to find one couple who is not still married. – They see this as proof that the devasting numbers of divorces on U.S. bases can be brought back to standard levels or better.
It is commonly stated that military divorces are the result of the awful stress laid upon those couples. But the opposite is just as likely to be true too. It is the other side of this coin: Enduring and surviving tremendous stress together can also greatly strengthen a marriage bond. Military marriages can also be among the strongest and most intimate on Earth.
We just need to help them get over that inevitable “hump” that challenges many military marriages, especially those that endure combat deployments that seem to last an eternity.
Our military families have suffered hardships for our sakes. Let’s thank them by pitching in and giving them a retreat that rekindles their love and makes its flames brighter than ever.
To learn more about military marriage retreats and how you can contribute, click HERE.