Single military women or someone who can handle the lifestyle

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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not the official position of Purdue University. Kenona H. Southwell, MS, Shelley M. Female service members' family structures differ from the traditional male service member—female spouse composition of military families. Consequently, this mixed-methods study reviewed demographic data, empirical evidence, and presented findings from secondary analyses of the wave of the Military Family Life Project regarding structural differences in male and female service members' families and perceptions and experiences of military spouses.

In addition, to gain an understanding of the influence of women's service on their family functioning, we conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 20 civilian husbands residing in 11 states around the United States. Empirical evidence suggests service women had higher rates or remarriage and divorce than service men.

Women were also more likely than men to be part of nontraditional family forms. Civilian husbands of female service members, however, reported lower marital satisfaction, less support from the community, and less satisfaction with the military lifestyle than military wives. Husbands' s indicated that their families experienced both benefits and challenges from wives' service.

Integration in the military community and separation presented major challenges for women's families. Implications of benefits and challenges of women's service for their families are discussed. Family is a priority for many male and female members serving in the U. Armed Forces. With some exceptions, however, most of what is known about military families comes from studies of families of male service members. Women's presence in the military spans several centuries. Women have served either directly or in essential supportive roles since the American Revolutionary War of Lawrence and Brigadier General Colleen L.

Army Criminal Investigation Command, respectively. Historically, women's experiences in the military have differed systematically from those of men. Subsequent policy and legislative changes helped to promote gender integration and increased career opportunities for women. Most evident is the change in women's presence in the military. Women will be allowed to occupy positions in direct ground combat units below the brigade level by Many of the seminal experiences of military life are experienced by both men and women.

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Service members, regardless of gender, face demands of multiple geographic relocations, separation from family, deployments, 8 and conflict between work and family life. Although male and female service members may face similar circumstances, their experiences may influence them differently. For example, evidence suggests that females may be more likely than males to report depression symptoms postdeployment, 1213 whereas males may be more likely to report problems related to alcohol use. Scholars have also identified gender differences in risk factors for PTSD.

For example, experiences of being wounded or injured during deployment may be more strongly associated with PTSD symptoms for women than men. Family experiences of female service members may also differ systematically from those of males. For example, although both male and female Gulf War I veterans had concerns about deployment negatively influencing their families and relationships, concerns about family Single military women or someone who can handle the lifestyle more strongly associated with anxiety among females than males.

There is reliable evidence that female personnel are more likely to divorce than males. Study findings indicated that active duty females had higher rates of marital dissolution than their male counterparts, and such findings were consistent across time and branch of service. Especially noteworthy, during fiscal yearwomen's rates of marital dissolution were double those of men serving on active duty 6. Although women in the civilian population are also more likely than men to be divorced, the ratio of women's to men's rates is much smaller than in the military.

A possible reason is that the period of marital follow-up may have been too short to see the full effect of deployments. The findings of more recent research on the influences of military deployment on marital dissolution are more consistent with those of Angrist and Johnson. Findings from personnel data onenlisted service members indicated that an increase in the of months deployed increased military couples' chances of marital dissolution, with stronger effects for dual-military couples and female personnel, compared to male personnel and couples comprising only one military member.

More importantly, even in the absence of deployment, the risk of divorce for nondeployed women married for 3 years was double that of nondeployed men married for the same period. Similar to single-parent families, step-parent families constitute an increasingly common type of family form in the United States 26 and in the military.

In fact, the proportion of female military Single military women or someone who can handle the lifestyle in third marriages was at least twice as large as the proportion of civilian women of similar ages. The level of support resources available for families of female service members may also differ from that available to the families of males.

Although the military provides a variety of support resources intended to help military families cope with military life, 9 there are some concerns about whether the support resources meet the needs of female service members' families, especially families with civilian male spouses. Some husbands have commented that the family support services offered by the military appear to be geared toward wives, and that they find great difficulty finding other men like themselves who they can relate to and have as a support system.

Little is known, however, about the extent to which perceptions of differences in military family support resources influence female service members' family functioning. Despite its challenges, there is evidence to suggest that women want to combine military and family life and benefit from military service. With the recent expansion of military occupations open to women, 7 it is possible that women will comprise an increasing proportion of the U.

Armed Forces in the coming years. Because family life is an integral part of life for many service members, and is implicated in service members' psychological health 33 and work performance 34 the growing presence of women in the military increases the urgency of understanding the unique characteristics of women's families. The first aim of this research, therefore, was to review similarities and differences in the demographic characteristics of the families of male and female service members.

Today, both civilian and military families include many diverse structures such as single parent families and step-parent families that exemplify the evolution of families from the normative nuclear family pattern of decades. The predominant type of military marriage is a service member married to a civilian spouse.

Consequently, males are a minority in the spouse population. Most married service members are married to civilian spouses. While dual-military marriages represent a small portion of active duty Married active duty and selected reserve female service members The bar across the graph identifies the point where prevalence of dual-military marriage would be the same for male and female service members. Noteworthy is that compared to men, women serving in the Coast Guard and Marine Corps reserve are more than 16 times more likely to be married to other service members.

Single parent families are the result of intact families separating following divorce or cohabitation, or childbearing in the absence of marriage. In an attempt to understand more current trends in the composition and prevalence of step-parenthood in military families, we conducted secondary analysis of a second data source, specifically the wave of the Military Family Life Project MFLP. The MFLP is a longitudinal study of military families deed to better understand the influence of military life events, especially multiple deployments and relocations on active duty military families.

The Defense Manpower Data Center collected data during, and to assess child well-being, military spouse well-being, education, and employment. The present study utilized data collected between May and August via either web-based or article surveys see MFLP — project report for more details. Spouses with partners above O-7 rank and spouses from dual-military families were not eligible for the study.

Families of female service members were more than twice as likely as those of males to include children from service members' prior relationships Conversely, male service members were ificantly more likely than females to be part of families that include children from the nonmilitary spouses' relationship Interestingly, female service members were more likely than males 9. Figure 2 illustrates the ratio of women's to men's stepfamily membership. The bar across the graph identifies the point where the ratio would be the same for men's and women's involvement in various stepfamily forms, illustrating that women were nearly 1.

Female service members were nearly 2. Relative to wives, husbands reported ificantly fewer permanent changes of station 2. Husbands also reported working ificantly more hours per week 3.

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Although husbands reported somewhat better financial condition 2. Husbands also were less satisfied with the military lifestyle 3. The research presented in this first study highlights evidence that women's families are more diverse and possibly more complex than those of men, with potentially greater vulnerability to the demands of military service.

Importantly, Study I highlighted that in addition to being more likely than men to be divorced or unmarried, women are also more likely to be part of dual-military, single-parent, and step-parent families. Women's families also exemplify, however, the evolution of family structures evident in the civilian population. There are ificant gaps in knowledge about service women's family functioning.

For example, to what extent do civilian husbands of active duty females perceive military culture as supportive of their role as spouses? Under which circumstances do civilian husbands benefit from their active duty wives' military service? Answers to these questions may help researchers understand the factors and mechanisms that may influence the quality of active duty women's marriages to civilian men.

Such questions, therefore, served as the rationale for our second study, which assessed female service members' marriages through the lens of their civilian husbands' perceptions of experiences of challenges and benefits derived from their wives' military service. Data for this study came from a larger mixed methods study of civilian husbands of active duty service women that was deed to generate greater understanding of perceptions of how the work and family lives of civilian husbands are influenced by their wives' military service.

The larger study was based on a combination of concurrent triangulation and concurrent nested de methods.

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A major aim of the larger study was to explore details of service women's marital relationships such as their husbands' perceptions of conflict, communication, and marital satisfaction. Active duty wives were deliberately excluded from this study, so that civilian husbands, who have been underrepresented in research, would be the primary focus of the study.

Only qualitative data from the larger mixed method project are presented in this study. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 20 civilian husbands residing in 11 U. Eligible husbands were civilian men who had been married to active duty women for at least 3 years. Husbands in dual-military relationships were excluded from the study.

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Recruitment used snowball sampling techniques, beginning with s to personal contacts and organizational leaders to inform prospective participants about the study. The snowball sampling continued with sharing information about the study via Facebook and Twitter. On average, husbands were Over half of husbands were employed There was even representation from the enlisted and officer ranks.

On average, wives had Qualitative data analyses were conducted using Thomas' General Inductive Approach—a procedure where raw data were organized into and themes and interpreted based on specific objectives and research questions. First, general and specific and themes were defined a priori, based on knowledge gained from existing literature about military spouses.

Secondly, the researcher thoroughly and repeatedly read 5 transcripts to determine whether the predetermined coding scheme accurately captured themes emerging from the texts. Subsequently, themes and were amended as needed. Fourth, the first author coded the data into the and themes. Finally, as a means of validating the coding, 2 other coders were given the coding scheme for which to find and organize text into a second time. Group meetings were held after sets of 5 transcripts to assess coding reliability. Civilian husbands' perceptions of challenges and benefits were similar but also distinct from the perceptions of wives of male service members.

We first describe husbands' experiences that were similar to those reported by wives, followed by experiences that were unique to husbands. A popular view among husbands was that wives' stable income and military family resources such as health care and tuition assistance reduced financial stress and burden in relationships. Most husbands described benefits of these military related resources.

Jim, a year-old ex-Navy service member spoke favorably about military family benefits and Tricare. Some husbands perceived wives' service as honorable and impressive. A less popular view was perceptions that couples' ability to overcome challenges, such as separation and relocations, strengthened husbands' marriages. A small group of husbands, especially stay-at-home d, reported that caring for children during wives' absences for military service helped to build strong father-child relationships.

My kids and I are closer than we've ever been. Similar to experiences of wives of male service member, husbands described challenges associated with their military wives' long and irregular work schedules, which were reported as sources of strain by several husbands because they made parenting and spending time together difficult. It's mostly work and a little bit of life. Some husbands perceived separations during training and deployment as especially stressful, because they missed their wives and had to perform wives' household tasks.

Such reports are similar to those of wives of male service members. Separation, especially during deployment, also led a handful of husbands to worry about wives getting hurt, being treated unfairly, and sexually assaulted. Similar to wives of male service members, husbands were susceptible to the effects of their spouses' military service on their mental health.

Challenges of wives' military service affected a few husbands' mental health and led to depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Single military women or someone who can handle the lifestyle

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The Difficult Transition from Military to Civilian Life