Is It Better to Marry Before or After Joining the Military?

by | Joining the Military | 1 comment

Deciding when to tie the knot is never easy, but when you’re considering a military career, the stakes feel even higher. Should you marry before you don the uniform, or wait until after you’ve settled into military life? Each choice comes with its own set of challenges and rewards, making this a deeply personal decision.

Marrying before joining the military offers stability and emotional support, but it also means exploring the complexities of military life together from day one. On the other hand, waiting to marry can allow you to focus on your training and career, but it might delay the stability that a committed relationship brings. Understanding the pros and cons of each option can help you make the best choice for your future.

Understanding Military Life

Military life offers unique challenges and opportunities, shaping your decision to marry. It’s vital to understand the aspects before committing.

Challenges of Military Commitments

Military commitments present distinct hurdles. Long deployments, irregular schedules, and constant relocations affect both your personal and professional life. Training exercises can stretch over weeks, demanding physical stamina and mental resilience. For example, infantry soldiers often spend extensive time in the field, testing their endurance. Balancing duty and family life becomes tricky, especially with sudden changes in deployment orders.

The quest for a stable family environment can feel daunting. Children might need to change schools frequently, and spouses might struggle to find or keep stable jobs. You also encounter emotional strains from extended separations, adding pressure on relationships. But, knowing these challenges well equips you to make informed decisions.

The Role of Support Systems in Military Life

Support systems play a crucial role in managing military life. Strong family ties, resilient marriages, and reliable friends provide emotional and practical support. Many base communities offer resources like counseling services, child care, and social groups. These resources help families cope with the stresses of military commitments.

Military spouses’ clubs and family readiness groups (FRGs) offer camaraderie and practical advice. They host events, provide emergency assistance, and share deployment-related tips. Also, online forums and social media groups foster connections across different bases, creating extended support networks.

Understanding these aspects of military life helps in the decision-making process about when to marry, either before or after joining the military. Each family’s circumstances differ, but having a strong support system offers significant benefits in exploring military commitments.

Pros of Marrying Before Joining the Military

Deciding to marry before joining the military is a significant choice with various advantages, drawing from the practical experiences of experienced servicemen like John ‘Jack’ Morgan. Let’s explore these benefits more closely.

Stability and Emotional Support

Marrying before enlisting provides crucial stability and emotional support. Military life often involves constant relocations and long deployments. Having a spouse from the beginning offers emotional grounding during these turbulent times. Jack notes that soldiers with established relationships tend to adapt better to these challenges since they already have a trusted partner offering support and encouragement.

Financial and Legal Benefits

Several financial and legal benefits come with marrying before joining the military. Spouses become eligible for healthcare, housing allowances, and other military benefits from day one. For instance, the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) provides financial support for housing, significantly reducing out-of-pocket expenses. Also, married personnel can qualify for legal protections, such as expedited spousal visa processes, ensuring family members can join them promptly if deployed abroad. Jack highlights that these financial and legal advantages reduce the stress associated with military life, allowing soldiers to focus more on their duties.

Cons of Marrying Before Joining the Military

Marrying before joining the military comes with significant challenges. It’s crucial to understand these potential pitfalls to make an well-informed choice.

Early Relationship Strains

Emotional Resilience: Military life demands emotional resilience, which can strain young marriages. Long deployments, lack of communication during missions, and the pressure of military discipline often create conflicts and misunderstandings.

Formal Responsibilities: Couples may find exploring formal responsibilities tough. Essential military obligations, such as attending boot camp and initial training, leave limited time for personal interactions, which complicates a newlywed couple’s life.

Financial Uncertainty: Although military benefits exist, initial pay grades might not cover all expenses. Young couples might struggle with budgeting, leading to stress and potential disputes.

Complications in Career Mobility

Frequent Relocations: Relocating frequently as part of military life can disrupt a spouse’s career. Civilian spouses might face employment instability, which adds to the financial strain.

Limited Assignments Flexibility: Military personnel often have limited flexibility in choosing assignments. Families may be stationed in undesirable locations, impacting quality of life and leading to dissatisfaction.

Professional Development: Balancing military duties with personal ambitions might delay professional development for both partners. Career opportunities might come second to military commitments, potentially causing frustration.

Pros of Marrying After Joining the Military

Choosing the right time to marry in a military career isn’t easy, but some experts like John ‘Jack’ Morgan suggest waiting until after enlisting can offer substantial advantages. This section explores the potential benefits waiting can bring, rendering clarity for those at crossroads.

Better Financial Preparedness

Entering marriage with a steady income and benefits creates a stable foundation. Military service provides consistent pay, which helps in budgeting and planning. Also, receiving housing allowances and healthcare coverage eases financial stress. Mary and Mike, a couple who married after Mike enlisted, noted an immediate improvement in their financial situation. They could invest confidently and even build a savings cushion, unlike their civilian peers who often struggle.

Enhanced Personal Maturity

Joining the military fosters growth and resilience. Young soldiers gain life skills and discipline, which translate into better partnership dynamics. Shawn, a sergeant with six years of service, shares how military experiences taught him patience and effective communication, strengthening his marriage. Achieving personal maturity before marriage ensures the relationship starts on firm ground, reducing conflicts and misunderstandings common in younger, less experienced couples.

Both financial preparedness and personal maturity fostered by military service create a robust environment for a successful marriage. Balancing these factors can help you decide if it’s better to tie the knot before or after enlisting, considering your unique circumstances and long-term goals.

Cons of Marrying After Joining the Military

Marrying after enlisting in the military brings its own set of challenges. John ‘Jack’ Morgan, a retired master sergeant with over 20 years of experience, provides insights into these difficulties. Understanding these cons can help you make informed decisions.

Difficulties in Time Management

Time management becomes more complex when you marry after joining the military. By the time you marry, you’ll already have established routines and commitments to your military duties. Balancing these with new family responsibilities creates strain. Military operations and training schedules often remain rigid, leaving little flexibility for personal life. Jack’s advice: always plan ahead, though even the best plans can fall apart when duty calls.

Numerous married servicemen face unexpected deployments. For instance, Navy personnel might be called for months-long sea duties, disrupting family plans. Frequent relocations, or Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, also add to the burden. Imagine packing up your life every 2-3 years and moving to a new base. These disruptions can strain any marriage, making it challenging to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Strains on Starting a Family

Starting a family later can be stressful. After joining the military, many servicemen delay family plans due to demanding schedules. Jack notes that couples often find it tough to sync personal milestones, like having children, with military obligations. The unpredictability of military life means you might miss significant family events, from childbirth to birthdays.

Stress levels can soar when both partners are unprepared for military life’s demands. Suppose you’ve got a deployment coming up just as you and your spouse are planning to start a family. The separation and anxiety can take a toll on both. Jack often saw young couples struggle with this balance, sometimes leading to marital conflicts.

Healthcare logistics also complicate matters. Tricare, the military health insurance program, provides essential benefits but exploring it can be challenging, especially when stationed overseas or far from major medical facilities. Jack advises understanding your entitlements fully and having contingency plans for medical emergencies.

Recognizing these cons equips you better when deciding the timing of marriage in relation to a military career. Jack’s experience reinforces the importance of preparation and open communication between partners to navigate these challenges effectively.


Deciding whether to marry before or after joining the military is a deeply personal choice. It’s essential to weigh the benefits and challenges unique to each option. Stability and emotional support can be invaluable if you marry before enlisting. But, marrying after joining might present challenges but also opportunities for growth and resilience. Open communication and thorough preparation with your partner can help you navigate the complexities of military life more effectively. Whatever you decide, understanding the demands and rewards of military service will guide you in making the best choice for your relationship and career.


post page form.


Next Steps: Sync an Email Add-On

To get the most out of your form, we suggest that you sync this form with an email add-on. To learn more about your email add-on options, visit the following page ( Important: Delete this tip before you publish the form.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.