GI Jane Finances

April 13, 2011

Love and the military

Filed under: Uncategorized — gijanefinances @ 12:02 pm

Divorce Rate For Women In Military Double That Of Men.

Very interesting article. 

I want to discuss a several points:

When naval officer Amanda Smith was deployed to Kuwait in August of 2009, her job was to find holes in existing military medical programs and fix them. Smith (her name has been changed) was a mender. She held together the morale of her peripatetic unit. When she found out that a child of one of her soldiers had been molested during their deployment, Smith stayed up nights comforting the inconsolable single mother.

She also tried to maintain the fabric of her own dislocated family. Her husband, Jeff, had returned from Iraq only three months before her own deployment, and their children were living with extended family in Oklahoma while their father went back to school in California.

Then, without any reason for suspicion, Jeff began to berate her for having an affair while abroad. “When the accusations kept flying at me, I wondered if he had a guilty conscience,” said Smith, who never questioned Jeff during his deployment. “Is that what he did when he was gone?”

On a cold Friday in December 2009, Jeff called Smith in Kuwait to say he wanted a divorce. Emotionally overwhelmed, she did not contact him again until she returned to an empty house in April. She found out that he was engaged to someone else Mother’s Day weekend; although their divorce was finalized only last week, Jeff filed for “single status” so that he could remarry last November.

Smith joined the rank and file of military divorcées.

A friend of mine went through a divorce after returning from a deployment.  I won’t discuss the specifics, but her absence definitely contributed to the break-up of her marriage.

This is very true:

Marriages between civilian husbands and military wives have the highest likelihood of ending in divorce.

According to Karney, among men in the military who are married, over 90 percent are married to civilians, whereas the majority of married women in the military have spouses who also serve.

There is an aversion for military men to marry military women.  Civilian wives are far more likely and more importantly, can drop everything and follow her husband.  I cannot abandon my job until my active duty service commitment is over.  Even then, when faced with the choice of leaving my career, it is hard to do the further along you have towards the mandatory 20 years for a pension.  I definitely feel like I am married to my job.

“The U.S. military is an attractive place to work for some of the most traditional men in the United States,” he said. “It is also an attractive place to work for the least traditional women in the U.S. because being a warrior in the armed services are not attractive to traditional gender roles… Those women might not be attracted to the institution of marriage as a traditional institution.”

I used to get a lot of flack when I was a cadet from my boyfriend at the time.  The military is like a “Good Ol Boys” club.  A lot of functions are couple-oriented.  Even if I am dating someone, I will not bring someone to a function because there is too many gossipy busy bees.  As a single-person, I miss out on the off-clock networking when spouses are invited to the commander’s house especially.

“They used to be called wife clubs and people still Freudian slip,” Litchford said. “I have found that once I show up they do try and make an effort to ask me what I would like to do besides have tea and little sandwiches with the captain’s wife. I’m game for glazing your own pottery though… I went along and made myself a mug.”

The one thing I do not miss is being part of a spouses club.  I have no desire to scrapbook and get involved in pecking-order nonsense.

Cutlip found that a majority of the women attributed the failure of their marriages to “improper partner selection,” which could imply that women in the military are more willing to end an unsuccessful or incompatible marriage.

Marine Becky Andrews (whose name has also been changed) met her soon-to-be-ex-husband at a Virginia military base. The two started dating; she got pregnant; and he was then deployed to Japan.

“Even though we had a child together, I was unable to be placed at a nearby base as long as a single mother,” Andrews said. “We figured it would be best if we got married and then we could figure it out.” After the wedding, Andrews was moved to San Diego. Her husband joined from abroad eight months later. It took them two months of living together to call it quits.

Andrews, says failed shotgun weddings were commonplace throughout the base.

“Girls come in from podunk towns fresh out of high school where people didn’t give them a second look, and then they are in land of testosterone,” said Andrews of a military that is approximately 15 percent female. “Honey, you are the cream of the crop because you are the crop.”

Andrews adds couples tend to marry young so that they can be sent to bases close to one another. She also notes that in the case of the Marines, some would marry out of convenience — to get out of dorm style housing that was only available to married couples or officers.

I remember when I was enlisted that people would meet in basic training and get married before or in technical training school.  It seemed so bizarre to me at the time.  Military folks have a big incentive to be married.  The incentives are more pay and on-base homes/townhouses.  I am sure there are more, but those are the most significant.  I had one young lady who worked for me in 2000.  She was on her fifth marriage by age 31.  Shot-gun marriages I am sure are very common.  I rarely see a single-mother among the officer corps.  The military is very traditional and conservative.  The “cream of the crop” quote made me laugh out loud. 

That is why I am excited about moving to San Antonio.  I am approaching the end of my career.  I have to stay a minimum of three years at the next assignment.  My career should not be as non-conducive to relationships as it has in the past.  Up until now, it really caused a lot of consternation in that area of my life. I would have to say about 71% officers are married and according to the article 90% are married to non-military women.  I thought I would marry a military man.  But reality is that they want someone who can pick-up, move and fill-in the traditional role.  As a quasi-feminist, that mentality has made it challenging to say the least.

GI Jane


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