In today’s post, I’m going to teach you everything I know about military marriages. I’ll cover the marriage requirements, proposal ideas, benefits of being married, marriage tips for military members, divorce rates, and much more. This information is a combination of independent research and personal experience. Enjoy.
What Are the Military Marriage Requirements?
Getting married in the military isn’t all that complicated. It’s the same process of a non-military person getting married. You secure a marriage license in your respective county/state and then you find a minister, pastor, or Justice of the Peace (someone licensed to marry two people), and you tie the knot. Once complete, you submit your paperwork through your local county clerk (to make it legal) AND through your S1 channels to update your military records, contact information, insurance, etc.
From what I found online:
There are no laws governing military marriage. Military members can marry whomever they want, including same-sex partners. There are no military marriage fees and you do not need a special military marriage license. ~ Military.com
Military Marriage Benefits
What are the common military marriage benefits? For the purpose of this section, I want to share a few benefits for the (non-military spouse) that come to mind.
Health care is expensive. As a civilian, my wife and I pay almost ,000 per month for health insurance and we have a ,000 deductible. Chew on that for a moment. Don’t feel sorry for me! It’s just a fact. As a military dependent, you can participate in your spouse’s health care plan. In most cases, there is little to no cost for you. In addition, the military has done a great job improving its health care system. In many cases, you can even choose your primary doctor.
As a military spouse, your spouse can transfer their GI Bill to you. You will also be eligible for certain scholarships, tuition assistance, and savings on your college education. Considering the amount of the most student loans, this savings is substantial.
If your spouse has reached the needed time in his or her service, the GI Bill benefits obtained, can be transferred partially or totally to the spouse or the children. Children can use these benefits until they reach the age of 26. Additionally, they might qualify for extra benefits such as a housing allowance. ~ Marriage.com
Being a military spouse is a unique experience. You can potentially travel the world and see and do things the average person never gets to do. For instance, my cousin Jessica, and her spouse, were just assigned to SPAIN for three years. Awesome!
PX and Commissary
As a military dependent (spouse) you can shop at the PX and commissary. These two resources allow you to save money and shop tax free! Woo-hoo!
Why Do Military Guys Rush Into Marriage?
Have you ever noticed how most young male military members are anxious to get married? Why do military guys rush into marriage? For the same reasons young guys not in the military rush into marriage: it’s what we’ve been taught to do.
In today’s world, getting married is part of adulthood. You go to school, acquire your education, start your career, and then get married and have a family. You pursue the white picket fence, the dog, two beautiful kids, and an amazing spouse. Who wouldn’t want that?
Some Soldiers get married for the financial benefits. Others want to start a family. And maybe some Soldiers can’t stand the thought of being alone. Heck, maybe it’s a combination of those three things.
While “getting married young” is still common in the military, traditions and values are changing. People are waiting longer to get married. Many people are starting to realize that single life isn’t all that bad. It seems as if the 30s is the new 20s.
I would encourage any young Soldier reading this article to take your time and not rush into marriage. It is a huge decision that will alter your life and career.
Date different people. See different cultures. And if you find someone you love, be patient. Understand the lust does not last forever. Date the person for three or four years BEFORE tying the knot. Trust me on this one. Been there and done that.
Military Marriage Proposal Tips & Ideas
If you’re thinking about “popping the question” do a good job, be prepared, and make it count. You don’t want to mess this up fellas.
Before I share my best military marriage proposal tips, remember this: You know your significant other well. Think about what would be special or important to them. It’s not about you. It’s about them. Do something they will cherish forever. Keep in mind, it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should be personal and heartfelt.
Here are some simple things you can do:
Proposing at a military function could be a great idea. This includes a ball, gala, dining in, dining out, or any other type of formal event. You could coordinate with the people planning the event, and incorporate your proposal into it, so it is extra special.
Romantic Getaway or Vacation
Proposing while you are on leave or on vacation is a great idea. You could take your significant other somewhere special and pop the question.
Revisit the First Date
You could take your girlfriend back to where you had your first date. You could even recreate the first date and then propose.
Another great way to propose to your significant other is through a movie ad. If you the two of you enjoy going to the movies together, you could purchase an on screen ad. While watching the previews, your boyfriend or girlfriend would see the message. That’s when you could drop down to your knee and propose.
Hire a Personal Chef
I found this proposal tip online.
Plan a date night at home complete with a personal chef who cooks your partner’s favorite meal. There are tons of different ways to utilize this creative marriage proposal idea, but one of our favorites is to have the chef put the ring on the plate for one of the courses. Believe it or not, there are even companies that specialize in this kind of thing. ~ Wedding Spot
Quite perhaps the two most common times people get engaged in the military is before or after a deployment. If you are about to deploy, or are coming home from a deployment, it could be a good time to propose.
There’s nothing better than seeing the love of your life return safe from deployment. So how can you make this moment even sweeter? With a proposal, of course! Surprise your partner with a completely unexpected proposal – and make it a moment they will never forget by including family, friends, and loved ones. ~ The Heart Bandits
Here are my last two marriage proposal considerations and tips. I’m old school, so this is what I recommend:
First off, ask your partner’s parents for their blessing first (if they are still alive). This is a nice personal touch. I know that most people don’t do this anymore, but it’s still very courteous and considerate. Secondly, when you propose, get down on one knee and do it the right way. Be their knight in shining armor. Don’t propose while laying in bed, standing up, or sitting in a chair. Drop to one knee, look them in the eyes, and ask for their heart.
Military Marriage Tips
I’m not a doctor or psychologist. In fact, I’ve been divorced. Yes, it’s embarrassing to say that, but it is what it is. However, at the time of writing this article I’ve been happily married for more than 14-years. I’d like to share a few military marriage tips I believe will benefit you. These are lessons I’ve learned through the School of Hard Knocks.
# 1: Learn Your Partner’s Love Language
This is easily my best and most important military marriage tip. Hear me out before you laugh.
Make the time to learn your partner’s primary love language. Everyone has one. In this ground breaking book, The Five Love Languages Dr. Gary Chapman identifies the five primary love languages as words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gifts. In a nutshell, each person perceives love differently, normally with one of those primary love languages being PREDOMINANT.
For example, someone with quality time as their love language needs to be spend lots of quality time together with their partner to feel loved. On the other hand, someone who is words of affirmation needs to hear the words “I love you” often.
Opposites attract. Normally, each spouse has a different love language. When one spouse tries to show love to their spouse, they do it in their own love language, not in their spouse’s love language. And that’s where the troubles arise. If you read and study the book, you will be ahead of 99% of most couples. This book saved my marriage countless times.
# 2: Have Realistic Expectations
There is a huge different between romance, lust, and marriage. When you are new to marriage, it’s exciting. It’s lust. There’s passion. You constantly think about one another. You can’t keep your hands off each other. However, as time passes, life gets in the way. Kids come along. Careers come along. You get into a routine.
If you expect a marriage to stay the way it was when you first got married, you are in for a big, unpleasant surprise. It won’t be like that for much more than six to twelve months. When reality sets in, that’s when the work begins.
Be prepared to spend a lot of time without your spouse. You may be separated for months at a time, including during holidays, birthdays, family events and the inevitable crises of family life. Make sure you can handle finances, home maintenance and repairs alone. Make sure you are ready to move often and possibly see less of your family. Be prepared for certain obligations to military readiness groups. You’ll also need to adapt gracefully to new social situations, make new friends and get involved. ~ Military Once Source
# 3: Marriage is Hard Work
Marriage is hard work. Anyone telling you it is easy isn’t married. There will be days when you question your sanity. There will be days when you ask yourself “what have I gotten myself into?” or “is this worth it?” That’s normal. Anything worth accomplishing requires hard work.
# 4: Trust & Communication
The foundation for a solid marriage is trust and communication, especially trust. If you can’t trust your partner or spouse, the relationship is on the way out. Keep your partner in the loop. Have the tough conversations. Stay faithful. Let them know what you think and how you feel. Talk to them. More importantly, listen to them. Do what you say and say what you do. Finally, be their biggest cheerleader and supporter.
# 5: Spend Time Together
Quantity time trumps quality time seven days a week! Spend as much time as you can with your spouse. Do things together during your off time. Find activities and passions you can both pursue together.
# 6: Pick Your Battles
You don’t have to be right all the time. Pick your battles. You don’t need to win every battle to win the war. This means you make sacrifices. You compromise. It can’t always be your way or the highway if you want your marriage to last.
# 7: Put the Relationship First
The relationship must come first. It’s not about you or your career. It’s not about your spouse or their career. It’s not about the kids either (although they are very important). If you want a long-term, happy marriage, you must put the relationship first. You must value the marriage more than anything else. If you can do that, you can sort through any problem or setback.
Following these seven military marriage tips will help you level up your marriage.
Divorce Rate in the Military
If this article is about military marriages, why am I bringing up divorce? Because it’s a common end result of most marriages. Most military marriages do not last.
What is the divorce rate in the military? Is it higher or lower than our civilian counterparts? Here’s are some military divorce rate stats I found online:
About 1 in 33 Marriages Will End Each Year
About 3 out of every 100 married military couples will divorce in any given year.
Since 2014 the divorce rate among men and women across the services has fluctuated between 3% and 3.1%. That trend continued for 2019 according to the Pentagon data, which measures the number of service members divorced during the fiscal year against the number married when the fiscal year began. ~ Military.com
Long Deployments Lead to Higher Divorce Rates
Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Not always. In fact, long deployments skyrocket the odds of divorce. From personal experience, my first wife left me when I was deployed to Iraq. In our battalion, nearly 70 to 80 percent of the lieutenants got divorced during or shortly after the deployment.
The #1 cause of divorce in the military is long deployments. Partners experience loneliness when they are apart, and there is typically a difficult period of adjustment once they get home. ~ Her Lawyer
Female Service Members Are More Likely to Divorce
Did you know that female military members or more likely to get divorced than their male military counterparts? Yep!
Service members and their families have resources from the military, but this has not brought down the overall divorce rate. Female service members have divorce rates far higher than men. Overall, the military divorce rate is slightly higher than the national average although non-military divorces have declined slightly in recent years. The hope is that a reduction in the number of overseas deployments can lower the divorce rate, but that is not showing up in the numbers thus far. ~ Canfield Madow
Logisticians & First Line Leaders Get Divorced More
Considering a career in logistics and want a happy marriage? Think again.
Across all fields within the military career path, divorce rates among the military by the age of 30 were 15 percent. When the different careers within the military were analyzed, it was found that first-line enlisted military supervisors had the highest rates of divorce at 30 percent. Logisticians had the next highest divorce rates, followed by automotive service technicians and mechanics. Military-enlisted tactical operations and air weapons had the next highest divorce rates within the military career path. ~ DOD Attorneys
Compared to Civilians
I mentioned earlier that about 1 in every 33 married military couples gets divorced each year. That is much higher than the civilian divorce rate stats I found.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 6.8 divorces for every thousand people in the U.S. in 2011.
Putting It All Together
The bottom line is that picking your spouse is the single most important decision you will make in life. The person you marry has more impact on your health, happiness, career success, and peace of mind than anything else I can think of.
If you decide marriage is for you, I hope you will follow the tips outlined in this article. On the other hand, if you enjoy the stag, single life, that’s great too. To each their own.
What are your thoughts? What are your best military marriage tips? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here is the first, last, and probably only marriage book you will ever need. Find it here on Amazon.
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Former Army Major (resigned)
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