Members of the military are more likely to be married and, despite the challenges of making a marriage work with unpredictable schedules and frequent separations due to deployments, are not more vulnerable to divorce than civilian marriages.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Family Issues, 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.
Researchers Benjamin R. Karney, David S. Loughran, and Michael S. Pollard analyzed records from 1998 to 2005 from the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, which collects data about the male population of active military members, and compared them to the Current Populations Surveys from the same years, which documents statistics about civilians.
The researchers sought to compare the marital and divorce status of military personnel and civilians in the years immediately before and after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The researchers found that, despite the fact that more service members began to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2002 and 2005, the divorce rates for military couples remained constant, and did not exceed the divorce rates of civilian couples.
The researchers said they took measures to control for differences in age, race, education level, and employment. They found that not only were servicemen either equally or less likely to be divorced than civilians, but that this disparity increased with older or retired servicemen.
“A possible explanation for this pattern is that time spent in military service enhances the stability of military marriages,” the researchers said.
They noted that the benefits provided to married military members, such as full health care coverage, cost of living bonuses, and the ability to live off-base with their families, also contribute to marriage stability.
Source: SAGE, Journal of Family Issues