Thursday, September 24, 2009

Air Force Women Divorce More

The Air Force are more married and less divorced than the general population is - for men. Air Force women are more divorced than the general population - 12.5% vs. 11.6% of American women in general.

Deployments are a big factor in military divorces, for men and women. This has long been known. The surprising finding a new study is that flight nurses - the most female part of the Air Force, and among the most likely to be deployed overseas - have the highest divorce rate, at 11.6%. Combat doctors, who are overwhelmingly men, are only 3.3% divorced. (Officers in general have a much lower divorce rate than the enlisted, at 4.4% overall).

I think I know what this means. Men are most jealous of the possibility that their wives would be sexually unfaithful. Military nurses in combat would be subject to more pressure, and temptation, to sexual infidelity than those same women would be at home, and more pressure and temptation than deployed men would be. Even if deployed female nurses are not, in fact, less faithful than they would be at home, it is reasonable to expect that some of their husbands would suspect that they were. Since another effect of deployment is to make communication much harder, dealing with those suspicions would be hard in that situation. Adding to the problem is the fact, also reported in this study, that non-military husbands at home are much less likely to use the Air Force's marriage support program than non-military wives are, the home husbands of deployed wives are more likely to do things that lead to divorce.


William said...

Could the divorce rates of flight nurses also have something to do with women attracted to such a career, i.e. adventure-seeking, not wanting to be tied to a particular place, etc.?

I know that when personally considering military service I chose against it because of what it might do to my personal relationships.

Perhaps some people enter the military because they want to get away from relationships that they are otherwise afraid to end.

Gruntled said...

No doubt this is a factor for some. This wouldn't explain why Air Force nurses have a divorce rate almost four times higher than Air Force doctors, though.

Susan Weston said...

In your recent Michelle Obama post, you pointed out that in conflicts between his career, her career, and the family's needs, women usually make the accommodations.

Men who join the Air Force have a good chance of finding a spouse who can and will accommodate the giant sacrifices involved in overseas deployment.

Women who join the Air Force have pretty low odds of finding a spouse like that--and as long as they're in roles that call for that sort of deployment, they've chosen not to do the accommodating themselves.

It seems to me that these numbers simply fit what you've already seen in how men and women commonly handle these issues--except that women on active duty take an uncommon approach.

(I'm hoping that commonly and uncommon work as respecting both what most women do and what service women do that's different from that.)