Monday, August 11, 2008

Female Soldiers Have 2x Divorce Rate of USA

In an interesting coda to Noer's "Don't Marry a Career Woman" article two years ago, I discovered that female Army soldiers have twice the divorce rate of the average American:

The military’s figure for divorce in the service for women soldiers of 7 percent amounts to almost twice the comparable figure of the married civilian population in the U.S. who are divorced. Contrary to popular belief, deployment of soldiers to the war zone for months at a time has not contributed to more divorces.

Since 2000 and possibly further back, divorce figures for military personnel have changed little despite the current conflict in Iraq, according to Melnyk. “The highest divorce rate was among Navy personnel in 2006. That service had a divorce rate among its married personnel of 3.4 percent,” the colonel said. The Army’s divorce rate was 3.2 percent that year, the same as the average for all branches of the military. The Marine Corps chalked up a rate of 3.3 percent the same rate as the Air Force, Melnyk said.

The number of divorces in the military is comparable to the divorce rate in the civilian sector of the U.S. population.

While official reasons explaining why the divorce rate for women in the service is 200% that of the rest of the country were lacking, the military spokesman offered up this speculation:

One thought is that support services available for military families are geared for supporting civilian wives of male servicemen," he said. "Another possibility is that women who are service members are different than men in the military in important ways. It has been said that the military recruits the most traditional men in our society. But the military recruits the least traditional females in our society. They are not the women who are most invested in the general role assigned to women. A third possibility is that it may be more stressful to be a civilian husband of a military wife than it is to be a civilian wife of a military husband

A key point that the Army spokesman didn't mention is that mil-mil marriages predominate for female servicemembers. I don't have a figure handy, but a military women married to a civilian man is quite rare--perhaps even less than the rate in the civilian world. More likely, a woman in the military is single, a single mom by choice (attracted by taxpayer subsidized childcare), or a wife in a mil-mil couple.

So, these marriages are doubly weird: first, they are unlike the typical civ-mil marriages where the civilian is the female and the male is the military. Second, they mix a military man--who tends to be more traditional and conservative than his civilian peers--with a military woman, who is likely to be less traditional, more feminist, and much more left-liberal than her civilian counterparts. On top of all that, you heap the unique demands of a military lifestyle on a marriage, and it's not a surprise that the unions do not endure.

To Noer's advice to not marry a career woman, I add "don't do blue / green" if you're a guy in the service. You have some serious odds to beat if you do. However, if you're a civilian guy who is happy to be a haus-herr (it will be tough for you to get and keep a decent job since you will move around so much), I say go for it.


Liesel Libertarian said...

I read once that the generals would prefer all bachelors (off the record at least.) They say that the drama and complications of infidelity and divorce have a negative effect on the battle field and they'd be better off if the men waited until they left the service to get married. They can't do this because telling the men not to get married would turn a lot of good soldiers out of the military.

Wonder Woman said...

Female soldiers are a rare breed of woman.
Like, seriously, what kind of chick would WANT TO do "stuff" like that for a living?
Hence the 2X's thingy :)

Something Feral said...

I'm going to fall back on the observation that armies have two purposes: breaking things and killing people. I'm just questioning the wisdom of having two in the relationship with a foundation in that school of thought, especially given the already-hostile environment in America.

It's begging for trouble, in my opinion.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"They can't do this because telling the men not to get married would turn a lot of good soldiers out of the military."

I've heard it said that the military recruits individuals, but retains families.

Do you remember when the former commandant of the Marine Corps tried to prohibit junior Marines from getting married?