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Most Military Couples Satisfied With Their Relationships

Greater distress felt by soldiers whose families did not follow them to the base, study found

FRIDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of married military couples currently in the service appear to be happy with the state of their relationships, a new study suggests.

The observation stems from a study conducted in 2008 by researchers at Kansas State University, who administered a quality-of-life survey to 700 U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, in Kansas, along with 390 of their spouses.

"Because of the stressors that have been on the military and military families, particularly in the last decade, it's easy to focus on the difficulty and dysfunction of their marriages," Jared Anderson, an assistant professor of family studies and human services at the university, said in a news release. "But I think one of the things that this study does is look at what makes these families resilient in the midst of ongoing stress."

The researchers found that although soldiers were 1.7 times more likely than their spouses to feel distress regarding their marriage, 81 percent of the soldiers and 85 percent of their spouses were "non-distressed" with respect to marital satisfaction.

The authors, whose research is still in the pre-publication stage, note that marital satisfaction bodes well for the long-term stability of military marriages, as well as for the individual well-being of soldiers and their families.

A healthy marriage report card, they note, could also have a positive impact on both soldier retention and readiness.

Nearly all the soldiers had been deployed at least once, while a third had been deployed twice or more. Although other research shows that combat exposure is a key factor in marital problems, deployment frequency alone was not associated with an increased likelihood to feel marital distress.

Instead, a greater likelihood of relationship distress among soldiers was linked to living on a U.S. base apart from one's family; being relatively newly married; having a lower rank; and dating or being engaged rather than married.

Noting that a snapshot of marital experience in just one Army post might not be representative of the national picture, the authors say they plan to expand their research in the future.

More information

For more about the qualities of a healthy marriage, visit the University of Maryland.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: Kansas State University news release, May 10, 2010

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