Military marriages stay strong despite challenges

Comparing marital status and divorce status in civilian and military populations

From Journal of Family Issues

Despite the fact that military service means working long hours with unpredictable schedules, frequent relocations, and separations from loved ones due to deployment, this study finds that marriages of military members are not more vulnerable than civilian marriages. According to the authors, members of the military are significantly more likely to be married, but are not more likely to be divorced than civilians with matched characteristic. Additionally, the risk of divorce among military marriages has not seen a real increase since the current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began, though they have led to lengthy deployments overseas. The researchers discussed the reasons for their findings, citing the extensive benefits provided to married military members such as housing supplements, cost of living bonuses, the ability to live off-base with their families, and full spousal health care coverage.


Since military operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq, lengthy deployments have led to concerns about the vulnerability of military marriages. Yet evaluating military marriages requires some benchmark against which marital outcomes in the military may be compared. These analyses drew from personnel records from the entire male population of the active components of the U.S. military between 1998 and 2005, and from the Current Population Surveys from the same years, to compare the likelihood of being married or divorced between service members and civilians matched on age, racial/ethnic composition, employment status, and education. Results indicate that service members are significantly more likely to be married, but are not more likely to be divorced, than civilians with matched characteristics. These patterns have not changed substantially since the current conflicts began.

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Article details
Karney, B., Loughran, D., & Pollard, M. (2012). Comparing Marital Status and Divorce Status in Civilian and Military Populations Journal of Family Issues DOI: 10.1177/0192513X12439690

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