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Should the Military Encourage Living Together Instead of Marriage?

Early marriage has no fans. Any junior servicemembers who announce their engagement will meet plenty of people who want to talk them out of it.

 -- This is just a divorce waiting to happen! --  This is a stupid way to get out of the barracks! -- This ain’t ever gonna work!!

Statistically, those naysayers have a pretty good chance of being right. Age at marriage is one of the strongest predictors of divorce -- especially among young enlisted.

So what if the military started encouraging young people to be more like their civilian counterparts? What if we let go of that post WWII morality and actually encouraged young couples to live together instead of getting married?

A brand new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that marriage -- actual licensed bride and groom marriage -- is less and less likely to be the first union for civilians.

Americans today live together first. The new report shows that 48 percent of women lived with their male partner as a first union, up from 43 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 1995.

Why shouldn’t military folks follow that same pattern? Granted, the unmarried partner wouldn’t be getting medical benefits. The servicemember’s housing allowance would not increase. Would that really mean there would be fewer divorces among military members?

It’s hard to tell what would happen to military couples who live together first. We have no statistics about military couples who live together.

When you look at statistics for civilians, within three years of cohabiting, 40 percent of women did marry. Another 32 percent were still living with their partner and 27 percent had broken up. The older you were, the more likely you were to move from living together to marriage.

But living together has never been shown to be a good predictor of staying together. And is a break up really easier than a divorce?

I don’t know. When Brad and I were first in love, he wanted us to move in together. I knew my parents (and his parents) would never, ever go for me moving to Connecticut to live with him. Which is one of the reasons we got married.

I must admit that the marriage license, the big white wedding, the opinion of our families all helped keep us together during those first grinding years of military life. Would we have stayed together without the piece of paper?

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I would like to think that we would. But I have nothing to compare that to. So at SpouseBuzz, we are asking you about living together:  Did you live with your servicemember first?  Did a ring and a dress and a few benefits really help keep you together? Is military living together an answer to young military relationships? Take our poll to the right of the screen and check out the results below, then tell us what you think in the comments section.

 

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