The 2nd definition of collateral damage from dictionary.com is “any damage incidental to an activity.”
In war, collateral damage is somewhat clear. Cities, villages, and towns get bombed. Innocent men, women, and children lose their lives. The lives of those who are left behind are forever changed, and it is not always the intention of those fighting in the war for those things to happen. While the term seems cold and distant, collateral damage in times of turmoil is very real and oftentimes quite regrettable.
What you don’t always hear about is the damage done to those who caused the collateral damage. Those men and women who are in the thick of war, who unintentionally cause the loss of lives and homes, are also negatively affected. They are left with those images of devastation and those feelings of guilt and remorse.
While a marriage is not comparable to war, and the damage that can be done during the marriage may not result in the loss of life or livelihood, there can still be unintentional hurt.