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How Can I Be a Military Spouse and Still Have It All?

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Dear Career,

I read all the time about "having it all," which to me means having a career, spending time with my family and having at least a tiny bit of down time throughout the week.

Here's the problem I'm having: The military always wins. It's hard enough finding a job as a military spouse, but if my career is always second, how in the world are we supposed to "have it all?"

-- Second Fiddle in South Carolina

Dear Second Fiddle,

I feel your pain, I do. I'm sure we've all heard the silly phrase: "If the military wanted you to have a spouse, it would have issued you one," and at times this feels like it's actually true.

While there's no doubt the military lifestyle can be tricky when it comes to maintaining a career as a military spouse, my first question would be: Have you talked about this in-depth with your spouse? The reality is that only the two of you can make sure both careers are valued equally in your marriage.

Don't get me wrong: Sometimes the military still wins. There will be commitments and trips and watch schedules that can't be worked around, but that isn't necessarily always the case.

Make sure your service member knows that you have important work commitments as well, and that if you're going to make a career work you have to find some compromise.

That may mean extra child care when you're traveling or it may mean hiring someone to help with the house. It may also be as simple as verbalizing your needs to your spouse. Depending on their current assignment and their seniority, perhaps they can move things around and make it work.

These conversations are especially important when it's time for new orders. Make sure everyone's needs are taken into consideration. It doesn't mean every move will be the best for everyone's career, but you both have to buy into this or it will be miserable.

Speak up.


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