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Military Marriages Stay Strong in Face of Challenges: Study

FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Despite being tested by long hours and frequent relocations and separations, military marriages are no more likely to end in divorce than civilian marriages, a new study shows.

Even with the increase in long-term overseas deployments since military operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq, the likelihood of divorce for service members has not risen significantly.

Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues compared marriage and divorce rates of military personnel and civilians in the three years before and after the conflicts began in Afghanistan and Iraq. They examined U.S. Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System records from 1998 to 2005, and compared them to civilian data for the same time period from the Current Populations Surveys.

After taking into account differences in age, race, education and employment, the study revealed that despite a surge in overseas deployment from 2002 to 2005, divorce rates did not increase for military service members. Military divorce rates were not higher than that of civilians and, as members of the military got older, they were less likely to be divorced.

The study appeared online recently in the Journal of Family Issues.

"A possible explanation for this pattern is that time spent in military service enhances the stability of military marriages," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.

The authors suggested that benefits provided to married military members, including housing supplements, cost-of-living bonuses, the ability to live off-base with their families and full spousal health care coverage, could play a role in the stability of military marriages.

More information

Military OneSource, a service of the U.S. Department of Defense, provides information on how to strengthen military families.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Journal of Family Issues, news release, May 10, 2012

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