A new study out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst takes a look at some of the reasons military members typically marry so young.
Stereotypes say that young military marriage is just for the cash. We know that nice Basic Allowance for Housing plus-up thanks to dependents can mean a big difference in monthly pay. And let's not even get started on all the reasons escaping the barracks at all is a good idea.
But we also know that, for most of us, deciding to marry the military is about more than just the money and benefits. It's about being a part of our service member's life and, even more importantly, getting to move with him or her.
And that's exactly what Jennifer Lundquist, the researcher who did this study as part of a larger, ongoing project, found. Marrying the military is about many things. The most easy to identify may be the cash. But when you get down to it, for many of us it was about not being left behind when orders rolled around. It was about getting to be with our service member and a part of his or her life when they got stationed far away from our hometown. It was about getting to be that first phone called or door visited if something, God forbid, was to happen to him or her during training or at war.
When we talk about the broad issue of military marriage, we talk about how the military supports spouses, about the divorce rate (the most recent information on that is over here) and about how darn young so many military spouses seem to be.
But we don't often take a step back to talk about how the military makes marriage not just possible but necessary -- and whether or not that is a good thing.
That's one of the subjects Lundquist brought up in my interview with her.
"No one would say 'oh I got married because I work in an environment that supports marriage.' But it came out in the narrative," she said.
My husband and I married at an average age by typical American standards -- but, at 24 and 25-years-old, were practically ancient by military standards. Still, we married because he was going to deploy and because I wanted to be a part of his life, not a significant other "outsider."
The military encourages marriage because it gives a pay bump to people who are married and only recognizes those who are actually spouses. Want to come on base? Be a spouse. Want to be involved in most units? Be a spouse. Want to have anything to do with anything official (including any official notification of, well, anything)? Be a spouse.
That makes getting married a necessity in many ways, and may rush you into a decision you otherwise may have put off for awhile. On the one hand, I understand why the military works like this. On the other ...
What do you think? Is young marriage a good idea or does it cause more trouble than it is worth?