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Relationships in the crossfire of war and after

War and armed conflict have profound effects on the social fabric of societies, and marriages and intimate relationships are no exception. The stress and trauma associated with war can exacerbate pre-existing relationship issues or create new ones. Various studies have explored the impact of war on relationships, often highlighting increased rates of marital distress, domestic violence, and divorce.

During times of war, couples may face a multitude of stressors including economic hardship, displacement, injury, and the loss of loved ones. These hardships can lead to increased tension within relationships. Moreover, the experience of combat or living in a war zone can lead to psychological trauma and mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which have been shown to negatively impact intimate relationships.

For service members, deployments and exposure to combat can significantly disrupt family life. Studies have found that longer, more frequent, or more hazardous deployments are associated with higher levels of marital stress and lower levels of marital satisfaction. Moreover, upon return from combat, the adjustment period can also be challenging. Symptoms of PTSD such as hypervigilance, avoidance, and re-experiencing can impede

emotional intimacy and communication, while increased irritability can lead to conflict.

Bear the war consequences- The rates of crises in marriages post-war can be significant. For example, research has shown that:

  • Veterans and soldiers with PTSD are more likely to report marital or relationship problems, higher levels of parenting stress, and generally poorer family adjustment (Galovski & Lyons, 2004).

  • A study of U.S. service members returning from deployment indicated that those with PTSD were significantly more likely to experience marital or relationship problems compared to those without PTSD (Sayers, Farrow, Ross, & Oslin, 2009).

  • Rates of domestic violence in military families are higher compared to civilian families, with the stress of deployment and the effects of combat exposure often cited as contributing factors (Marshall, Panuzio, & Taft, 2005).

During the war, the strain on relationships may manifest differently. The uncertainty and constant threat to life and stability can create a chronic state of stress and fear that undermines the emotional bonds between partners.

Data from conflict zones around the world show:

  • In war-torn regions, the breakdown of social support systems and the struggle for basic survival can lead to increased pressure on relationships.

  • The absence of one partner due to conscription or death can leave families fragmented.

  • There are also reported increases in forced marriages and transactional sex during wartime as a survival strategy, which can lead to complex relational dynamics post-conflict.

It is important to note that data on marriage and relationship crises during and after the war may be challenging to collect due to the chaos of war and the collapse of institutional record-keeping in such situations.

Nevertheless, the consensus in the literature is that war exerts a considerable strain on intimate relationships.


  • Galovski, T., & Lyons, J. A. (2004). Psychological sequelae of combat violence: A review of the impact of PTSD on the veteran’s family and possible interventions. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9(5), 477–501.

  • Sayers, S. L., Farrow, V. A., Ross, J., & Oslin, D. W. (2009). Family problems among recently returned military veterans referred for a mental health evaluation. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70(2), 163–170.

  • Marshall, A. D., Panuzio, J., & Taft, C. T. (2005). Intimate partner violence among military veterans and active duty servicemen. Clinical Psychology Review, 25(7), 862–876.


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