Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 January 2022
In the eyes of many US military commanders, the martial and the marital were, and ought to remain, worlds apart. Whether and whom enlisted men should marry preoccupied the armed forces in the twentieth century. This chapter explores the fitful progression of the services‘ marital policies and the various aspirations that underpinned them. These motives have included avoiding the cost of providing for dependents; preventing “gold-diggers” from entrapping servicemen; safeguarding operational efficiency by minimizing domestic distractions, and, conversely, boosting recruitment by incentivizing marriage and promoting “family-friendliness.” The armed forces have often presented their interventions as insulating naive young servicemen from bad marital choices. Whether servicewomen could marry, on the other hand, was (in commanders‘ eyes) less bound up with negative judgments about their partners‘ motives and emotional staying-power than with issues of procreation and maternity. In the twenty-first century, while the armed forces now accept more non-traditional partnerships and families, they continue to intervene in couples‘ lives through programs aimed at building spousal resilience.