Veterans Twice as Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses as Non-Veterans

Infidelity and divorce are more common among servicemen and women, a study found.

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Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Men and women who have served in the military have considerably higher rates of marital infidelity and divorce than the population at large, according to a 2011 study.

"Veteran Status, Marital Infidelity, and Divorce," a paper presented at last year's American Sociological Association Meeting, found that:

  • 32 percent of veterans who were ever married reported that they'd had extra-marital sex, compared with 16.8 percent of ever-married non-veterans;
  • 38.5 percent of ever-married veterans had gotten divorced, compared with 28.9 percent of ever-married non-veterans;
  • For both veterans and non-veterans, sexual infidelity is likely to lead to divorce. People who reported that they'd cheated on their spouses were more than 2.3 times more likely to have gotten divorced than those who hadn't been unfaithful.

The paper used data from the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, focusing on 2,308 18-to-60-year-olds who had been married at least once. "Although it is now two decades old, the NHSLS is one of the few national data sets that includes questions about whether respondents have ever served in the military, extramarital sex, and marital and divorce history," said Andrew S. London, sociology professor at Syracuse University, after the paper was published last year.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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