This research aimed to understand soldier’s experiences of forming and maintaining romantic relationships in the context of their military service and deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Soldiers were interviewed individually and asked about their experiences of their relationships and how their military service may impact on their marriages. The interviews indicated that for the most part the soldiers relationships were strong in the face of the challenges military service created in the context of managing personal relationships. The interviews indicated that separations could strengthen relationships, but that for some they could also create challenges that the soldiers found ways to overcome.
Research suggests certain aspects of military life, especially operational deployments, may negatively impact military marriages. However, much of this research is from the United States and uses deductive quantitative methods. Qualitative research investigating the lived experiences of forming and maintaining marriages was conducted with six male U.K. Army personnel. Semistructured interviews were analyzed, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, identifying five themes, each representing different dilemmas the soldiers’ had to balance to maintain successful marriages and Army careers. These five themes are best understood as practical, emotional, and cultural dilemmas that can be alleviated with practical and emotional methods; such factors could be used to build resilience in soldier’s marriages. These possible resilience factors could shape the content of interventions to increase resiliency in military marriages.
Keeling, M., Woodhead, C., and Fear, N. T. (2016) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of soldier’s experiences of being married and serving in the British Army. Marriage and Family Review, 52, 511-534. DOI:10.1080/01494929.2015.1124353.