With more and more U.S. troops returning from deployments overseas, many married service people have left the battlefield only to discover that they still have a fight on their hands – over their marriages.
According to a December 2011 Military News report, the divorce rate among military couples has increased 42 percent since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in 2001, and a popular marriage and family ministry wants to help reverse that trend.
Well-known marriage conference organization, Familylife, led by author and speaker Dennis Rainey, has recently announced an effort to offer help to those who serve, through a seminar geared towards service people called Art Of Marriage Ops.
“We believe that marriage is the most important commitment that a man and woman can make. When this bond is threatened by divorce, we know that it often takes outside forces to keep love alive,” says an Art of Marriage Ops statement.
The disturbing statistic leading to the demise of many military marriages is made worse by the multiple deployments service members have faced over the last decade.
According to a University of Oklahoma study, plans to divorce or separate increase with each month a service member is deployed.
The first 90 days post-deployment are the most critical for military marriages, according to Familylife materials.
“That window is the proven time frame during which people develop habits and will set the tone for the future of the marriage,” says Dennis Rainey
“It’s critical for military couples to establish healthy habits quickly as they struggle to reconnect and restructure their families.”
To help the transition from deployment back to home and family, FamilyLife wants to provide military couples with a proven DVD program, The Art of Marriage Ops.
The program is proven to strengthen marriages and prevent divorce through simple, yet effective, insights.
“We would like to help spark a nationwide movement to ‘give back’ to those who have given so much to our country,” says Rainey.
See a video about the program:
When Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Gaff received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in 2001, he and his wife, Valerie, never imagined it was only the first of 13 tours of duty in the region.
With each return home, a new challenge is presented.
“We had to renegotiate our roles, routines and relationship,” says Valerie. “While Todd was away, I was totally in charge and fully responsible for our children and household.
“When he returned, it was hard to let go of some of those roles. It was also scary getting reacquainted. By necessity, we both changed each time we were apart.
“When troops return home, civilians think ‘OK, that’s it. It’s over.’ But that’s not true. The stress on our marriage of 13 deployments since 9/11 has been immeasurable.”
Mercy Me lead singer and Grammy-Award winning artist Bart Millard has a heart for military families and has announced plans to support the Art of Marriage Ops mission.
“Trying to keep military families together is something I take very seriously. [This] gives us all an opportunity to offer these couples a fighting chance,” says Millard
According to Art of Marriage representatives, Mercy Me stands behind the plight of military couples and the help that Art of Marriage Ops provides.
The Art of Marriage Ops website provides program details, and encourages donations to help provide assistance to as many military families as possible.
A “Real Story” section of the site provides real-life testimonials on how the marriage seminars have changed couples lives.
One person writes, “My husband and I are currently in the divorce process. However, this weekend has changed the way we look at each other. We have started to put the principles from this weekend into practice and we are falling back in love with each other.”
Art of Marriage Ops officials are continually seeking supporters to assist with sponsoring families, much like Bart Millard, whose band Mercy Me has long stood behind military men and women, offering support, and a 2009 release, “Finally Home” which was dedicated to the nation’s heroes.
“The beautiful thing about FamilyLife and The Art of Marriage seminars is that somebody has stepped up and said this needs to happen for our troops,” says Millard.
“It’s something that I take very seriously as far as the family unit goes, and man, I have to be 100 percent behind any kind of ministry that is trying to keep these military families together.
“This ministry is trying to make a way to where these men and women don’t have to pay for these seminars, and that gives us all the chance to reach out and make a difference and to give these people a fighting chance.
“I don’t see how anybody couldn’t support this.”