The military marriage of convenience

Date:February 1, 2006 / year-entry #42
Orig Link:
Comments:    15
Summary:The marriage of convenience is alive and well, not that is really a surprise to anybody. I found interesting this story on how some young members of the US military are getting married for purely economic reasons. By getting married, he would get a housing stipend and permission to move off-base. And as his legal...

The marriage of convenience is alive and well, not that is really a surprise to anybody. I found interesting this story on how some young members of the US military are getting married for purely economic reasons.

By getting married, he would get a housing stipend and permission to move off-base. And as his legal wife, she would get health coverage and a cut of his extra money.

Comments (15)
  1. DBA monkey says:

    Hm, I don’t have enough patience to listen to the thing, but according to my grandfather, this has been going on since at least the ’40s.

    And it’s not all economic. Let’s see here… live on-base with 1000 other smelly bastards, or live in your own place with some sweet young thing? boy, THAT’S a difficult decision!

  2. This certainly happened while I was in the military in the 80s.

    It definately has problems, though, for both the military and the soldier engaging in it. It’s an added expense to the military, and many soldiers get bilked badly by spouses who turn out to be complete psychos or sociopaths (or whatever).

    But when weighing whether to live in the barracks under the brutal command of some wet-behind-the-ears commander who wants to exert his authority into your very living space, against living in a decent home that affords you a measure of privacy, living space, and autonomy, it’s difficult to resist trivializing marriage in this way.

    The military could solve a lot of its problems by not treating their servicemen like crap.

  3. Brian says:

    Pretty shortsighted and stupid, imho. The kind of person who’d marry someone for free healthcare probably isn’t someone that you’d want to closely associate your affairs with.

  4. Brian Kemp says:

    I had a friend whose parents married in a similar manner. Everything seemed to work.

    However he seems to be the exception. Most of the time this practice isn’t as great as it seems.

    It’s somewhat like an arranged marriage. Over time you can grow to like the other person, but most of the time it’s a marriage in name only.

  5. Chris Moorhouse says:

    Oddly enough, the criteria for finding a partner with whom this economic arrangement would be successful is remarkably similar to the criteria for someone to marry. Specifically, the partner must be someone whom you trust to do as they say they will, and it must also be someone with whom you can compromise on what exactly you each say you will do.

    The fact that neither of them are saying that they will do the things in a marriage that you would do isn’t hugely relevant. Most only think about things like "Love, honour, and cherish", and ignore things like "I’ll make sure the house payments get made.". Which is the more practical in any kind of live-in arrangement?

    Besides, a fair number of these people are gonna die prematurely anyways. Let’s keep the emotional attachments loose here…

  6. Jim Howard says:

    My first assignment in the Air Force was to Okinawa in 1977. I was in the first generation of Air Force people who came in with significant numbers of women.

    The net result was a bunch of people in their early 20s, forced to live in tiny one room apartments (if they were officers) or crowded dorms with 24×7 military BS (if enlisted).

    We had several marriages of convenience between two active duty people who wanted out of the dorms and into the far nicer married person on base quarters, or in to a small rent house in the community.

  7. Lance Fisher says:

    The Air Force has changed quite a bit since 1977. I served between 1997 and 2001, and I certainly was not treated like crap (after basic training, that is). As an E-1 (that’s the lowest enlisted rank), I got my own room in the dorms, and had to share a bathroom. We had dorm inspections once a month, but it wasn’t bad (it just had to be clean). The dorms were nice, and it wasn’t bad living with several hundred other programmers. Also, there were both men and women in the dorms. We had some good LAN parties.

    I didn’t know about any convenience marriages, but it was definitely a good deal to get married. You got base housing or money towards renting an apartment and your spouse got health care. That’s what I would expect, but of course some people will try an abuse it. I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to.

    Things are probably a little different in other branches.

  8. Andy says:

    I was in the Marines for 8 years and this happened all the time. I was in the infantry and was a Sgt so I had 11 to 21 people under me and I can name at least four off the top of my head that I know were doing this. Sometimes it works OK sometimes it can end really, really badly for the Marine doing it. A lot of the girls who do it are complete skanks and end up taking the guy for everything they can. Other times it’s a close friend and it works out OK.

  9. Dave says:

    It is understandable especially in the past. I joined in 1967 and it was a real pain living in the barracks. The inspections, community latrines, lack of A/C in Tachikawa, and a lack of privacy made marriage sound like a good idea. It did mean that the tour had to be extended from two to four years along with the enlistment, but I did find someone to marry for the more traditional reasons. We are still married. I guess the barracks life was a reason I became more willing to consider the married life.

  10. Alex says:

    Heck, I heard of people going to Baylor (Baptist University in Texas) that were going to get marriages of convenience so they could live outside of the dorms.

  11. Boots says:

    Not uncommon are two enlisted marrying (each other). It makes sense, but so weird when you know one is a lesbian. Well, then it makes even more sense, in a Military-Intelligence sort of way. Damn war!

  12. Boots says:

    In case you were led otherwise, any one can live off-post/base. Some places may require you to have a pass, but if you have the bread, we got your hootch. States-side, it’s of course easy to live on the economy (as they say).

  13. AMS 2nd Class says:

    Boots, it’s not really very practical if you haven’t been granted housing allowance.

    First, you don’t have enough money to afford anything other than a dump and secondly, you’re still responsible for your room in the barracks and being there for inspections.

    I was single and managed to get a request for off base housing approved, but many did not. I was going to community college at night near my "fiance" and write up a good request chit.

  14. Boots says:

    I have no doubt some units are like that. If it’s money, it’s not like you have a lot of bills. You could apply for separate rats; I did and had no problem getting it. And you could get together with a buddy or two and make out nice. Barracks? Inspections? I’ve heard of those but never saw them except in the workplace. Damn war!

  15. Corey says:

    "any one can live off-post/base"

    Although that may be true in some instances, it is not always the case. Not everyone can or has the option to live off-post.

    I can attest that this happens all the time. Even when it may not be a "marriage of convenience" it definitely speeds up the decision process. I personally married my wife after knowing her for only two months. Fortunately, we have been happily married for close to 7 years now.

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