The Latest Casualty of War: Army Divorces on the Rise
Too Many Doors to Temptation
Ryan was shocked and deeply wounded by Patti's confession, but he immediately responded that he forgave her. He pleaded with her to stay and work on their marriage. But, he says, she told Ryan that she no longer wanted to be with him and chose Gary instead. Three days later Patti reached across the table at a restaurant and squeezed his hand, Ryan recalls. She told Ryan she'd decided not to leave; that night, she told him, she e-mailed the news to Gary.
The next two days were a whirlwind of errands as Patti prepared for her return to Iraq. Shaken but relieved, Ryan bade her goodbye on December 15. A week later, he says, Patti phoned from the front, saying she wanted a divorce after all. Stunned, Ryan angrily ripped down the "Support Our Troops" banners he had hung outside their four-bedroom gabled house. The next time Ryan saw Patti was in February, at a lawyer's office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after her deployment ended; Gary, also just demobilized, was by her side.
Last May Ryan quit his job, moved in with his parents in Lancaster, and began taking college classes geared toward a career in radiology. Meanwhile the empty house he once shared with Patti sat on the market for some months while his parents and grandmother footed the bills. "Because of what Patti did, I wanted to protect him in any way I could," says his mother, Lydia.
But Ryan cannot contain his bitterness, and he blames Patti's tour in Iraq for sundering his marriage. "You're putting these guys and girls in the same camp only a few steps apart. They're scared. They're insecure. It opens up too many doors to temptation," he says. "If your spouse goes to war, you'd better hope your marriage is committed enough to last. I thought we were solid as a couple in a Norman Rockwell painting -- but I was wrong."