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Differences Between Military and Civilian Marriages

Differences Between Military and Civilian Marriages

Military couples accept significant constraints on their time together, and committed couples who elect for marriage weave those demands into their relationships. Consider the differences between military and civilian marriages before you decide to take the plunge.

Duty Comes First

Many traditional marriage vows include language relating to fidelity, such as “forsaking all others” or “cleave only unto him or her” or other promises to be faithful. But in a miliary marriage, duty comes first.

Orders to deploy can interrupt military marriages on a moment’s notice. When a member of the armed services receives orders to relocate or deploy, they must obey. In such cases, they may have as few as 24 hours to report for duty and board a plane for a destination thousands of miles away, even in another country.

This means a civilian spouse of a military partner must be ready to move across the country to a new base every few years—or remain behind. Military spouses must accept being placed second behind military duty.

Communication May Be Limited

Couples in healthy marriages don’t keep secrets from each other, but serving members of the military may do just that. “What did you do today?” becomes a loaded question for active members of the military, who must keep classified information secret, even from their spouses.

Planning Can Be Problematic

Military couples must adhere to military schedules, even if it means missing or rescheduling birthday or anniversary celebrations—or even their own weddings. Fortunately, when deployments make it impossible for one or both partners to be present for their own wedding, military double-proxy marriage is an option. The state of Montana permits this practice, which involves stand-ins reciting the vows and signing the marriage license on behalf of the absent partners.

When the couple reunites after deployments or transfers, it can still hold a traditional wedding ceremony and reception. In the meantime, it will receive the benefits afforded military couples, such as relocation assistance, medical benefits, and the use of military commissaries on base.

Military marriages are different from civilian marriages in many other significant ways, such as the jolting readjustment to life stateside after overseas combat service. Military marriages require patience, self-sufficiency, and, above all, extraordinary commitment. If you’ve found the person you’re sure you want to stay with for the rest of your life, you’ll be up to the challenge.

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