Here, she learned the concept of the “home team/away team”—meant to refer to American troops who are married to women in the United States but who also have common-law wives and children at their overseas post.
“Any sort of high-stress life that takes you away from your primary partner for months at a time presents a risk,” she says, “and falling in love affects your judgment.
You trust the guys in your unit, you’re not going to let anything operational slip, and you’re not going to let anything else slip, either.” One of the results of the Petraeus admissions is that the question of fidelity between military couples rears its ugly head. Faithfulness is not too much to ask for military couples.I cannot bear all of the shrugging off of fidelity I have heard this weekend, as if infidelity for military couples is the logical result of spending so much time apart. The thought that we should expect a little cheatage to come our way simply because we spend too much time apart is a poison in our culture. In fact, I think that it is I’m all for faithfulness.But should its absence merit criminal action, as it does for service members under the Uniform Code of Military Justice?“I have no words, no questions,” Penelope proclaims after seeing her husband, Odysseus, for the first time in 20 years, after he has made his way home from fighting in the Trojan War.“If it really is Odysseus, and he is home, we will recognize each other well enough; there are secrets that we two know and no one else.” As a military wife who has watched my husband come and go from multiple long deployments (this century’s eight-to-12 month variety), I share Penelope’s understanding of spousal intimacy.
It’s not the actual physical cheating I worry about; it’s that distance will erode the sense that it’s the two of us against the world, or that the intense new experiences that inevitably result from war will intrude on the feeling that we are co-conspirators in life. Though military spouses (including me) are careful not to speak of the Petraeus family specifically, because of the strong impulse to protect Holly Petraeus from further pain (many in the community know her personally, others have benefited from her advocacy work, and the rest feel that she’s part of their “military family”), the recent headlines have prompted a quiet discussion in military-spouse circles about whether or not infidelity is a hazard of military life.
“I never saw it coming,” one friend told me after discovering that her husband had multiple affairs during a series of deployments, and who has stayed in the marriage.
“But in the military, you’re given more opportunities for infidelity, and there are more stresses, which lead to bad choices. Most military spouses I’ve heard from in the past week say plainly that marriage is hard regardless of the circumstances, but that the military environment seems to exacerbate the normal tensions that any couple might face, whether they involve money, raising the kids, or extracurricular sexual activities.
You’ve got the distance, you’ve got the long hours, you’ve got the drinking. I’m not stupid, and my husband is a pretty good guy. Those who have experienced a spouse’s cheating tend to think it’s as contagious as the plague, like the friend quoted above, who feels like “the culture of the military contributed to the problem.” Others believe it’s a “man” problem rather than a “military” problem.
As another military spouse told me, pointedly, “Infidelity is a hazard of , and a former Army spouse, to get her take.
During her years as an Army wife on a military base in Germany, she led her unit’s family readiness group, a command-sponsored organization of family members that provides support, outreach, and information.