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Are You Getting Married for the Right Reasons? Myths of Marrying in the Military

By Cherie Dewar for LIFELines

A Sailor getting fresh air on the deck of a ship says to his buddy, "I can't wait to get back home. I wish I could get a place of my own in town, but I'll be stuck living on this ship." The other Sailor, unflatteringly regarded as a "sea lawyer," responds, "Hey, why don't you just marry another Sailor, and then you'll get paid more money to live off base and always be stationed together?"

Stop the boat! Sailors and Marines should know there's some truth to this proposal, but if you're considering marriage or pregnancy for any reason other than love and commitment, be aware of all the responsibilities and consequences that result from these life-altering actions.

Myth #1: Make an Easy Profit by Getting Married and Moving Off Base
Perhaps the additional money you receive for getting married and moving off base will increase your income, but are you considering the whole package? It's likely that the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) won't cover 100 percent of your rent or mortgage payments. Additionally, there's the cost of electricity, gas, sewer, trash removal, cable TV, lawn maintenance, and renter's insurance. You'll need to buy furniture, and likely a first or second car, along with insurance, registration, maintenance, and gas costs. You may find getting to work on time harder when you factor in commute time.

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When you move out of the barracks, you'll probably receiveBasic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), but the military doesn't calculate the amount to cover family member food costs.

It's possible to move off base and receive BAH without saying, "I do." If a ship or barracks nears its capacity, the command may offer BAH for off-base quarters.

Myth #2: Get Married to Escape Field Day
If you're thinking you can avoid utility and transportation expenses by marrying and living on base, and that you'll get the added bonus of avoiding field day and inspections, be aware that on-base housing is government property. You're expected to maintain a clean environment there, and you are subject to inspection. Landlords off base will also expect their properties to be kept clean.

Related Articles: Resources: So you are getting married?
Myth #3: Get Married for More Money, and Life Will Be Easy
If you still believe you can gain extra cash by entering into a "contract marriage," or marriage of convenience, remember that you're entering a legal union that brings responsibility. You can be accountable financially if your spouse fails to pay his or her debts. If you separate, you will still need to support and provide housing for your spouse.

Entering a contract marriage with another military member doesn't draw the higher "with dependents" BAH, but instead both you and your service-member spouse receive BAH as if you were single. Instead of taking false vows, the same amount of BAH can be drawn by simply waiting to move off base when your ship or barracks reach a high capacity.

Myth #4: Become a Parent to Duck Sea Duty
It's true that female Sailors and Marines are removed from sea duty for the duration of their pregnancies and maternity leave, but afterwards they are eligible to return to sea duty with a doctor's clearance.

Myth #5: Married Military Members Will Always Be Stationed Together
If two military members marry, detailers will try to keep them together, but there's no guarantee. The needs of the military come first. And deployment time isn't decreased either.

Don't get married or pregnant for the wrong reasons. Seek the advice of a chaplain, the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), or Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) if you have any questions.


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