Military Marriages: Does a Higher Set of Standards Apply?

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As General David Petraeus’s marital infidelity comes to light and his storied career comes to an end, questions have arisen about his marriage, his life in the military, and whether members of the military are — or should be — held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

We asked listeners to give their take on this question yesterday, and many of you weighed in.

Frimet said on our Facebook page: "No, they should not be held to a higher standard, unless it poses a threat to our national security. We've lost too many great politicians to America's obsession with morality. Their personal lives should be separate from their public/political lives.

But what do military spouses think? And what are the unique challenges they face?

Siobhan Fallon is the author of "You Know When the Men Are Gone," a collection of stories about American soldiers and their families. Her husband, who is a major, has served in the Army for 12 years.

Krystel Spell writes the blog "Army Wife 101." Her husband is a sergeant who’s served in the Marines, the Army, and the National Guard.

Mike Schindler is a Navy veteran, and author of "Operation Military Family: How Military Couples are Fighting to Preserve Their Marriages." In researching his book, he conducted over 1,000 hours of interviews with military couples — including with high-ranking officers.

Siobhan Fallon doesn't feel that there is a pressure for military spouses to keep up appearances. "There's more an idea of acting as a role model," she says. She speaks very candidly about the difficulties of being a military spouse, but says, "The adage that a deployment can make a strong marriage stronger is definitely true, but unfortunately the inverse is also true."

"As a military spouse, there is a definite sense of feeling more for her, because I know personally what it's like to go through deployments, and your spouse being gone for so long," Spell says of Holly Petreaus. 

"As we gain power, we often as humans think we can begin to make our own rules, and so we begin to think that we can get away with some things that maybe other people can't," Mike Schindler says. "I think it's important to note that the military takes this very seriously."  

Spell says there is pressure placed on military families to be role models, but, "at the end of the day, we are humans too."

"I think the general sense is that, you know, his extra-marital affair is unbecoming, but his ownership of it is honorable," Schindler says, noting that Petraeus is still fairly well-respected in the military. Still, he adds, "That being said, the military certainly doesn't condone it, and I don't think America really condones it either."