I was a Navy wife for about a decade, and a Navy girlfriend for three years before that. And sometimes I get so very very tired of the “Darling, I love you, but I can’t handle your job” routine that seems to be obligatory whenever you have an action-adventure television character who starts out the series married, or even just going steady. It’s a goddamned insult to all the people who are living that life and by God coping with it, is what it is. (My issues, let me show you them.)
I know why the powers that be do it, of course. They want the (male) lead to be conveniently unattached, so that he’ll make a more convenient fantasy object for the viewers, as well as leaving the coast clear for the script writers to throw in a Babe of the Week or a Girlfriend in the Fridge whenever they run out of other ideas. At the same time — because the powers tend to assume that the typical viewer is both casually misogynistic and casually homophobic — they want to make it crystal clear that the male lead is straighter than a ruler-straight thing. Enter, therefore (and leave, shortly thereafter), the conveniently dissatisfied wife-or-girlfriend.
Personally, I think that the powers that be underestimate the tolerance of the typical viewer, or at least the typical viewer’s lack of a need for constant reassurance about a leading character’s sexuality. Then again, I’m not gambling a million bucks or more per episode on my faith in human nature, either — one of the advantages to writing novels instead of series television is that the stakes are low enough to take some risks.