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How Can I Have a Career Around His Military Job?

(Photo: Air Force/Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.)
(Photo: Air Force/Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.)

Dear Career,

I’m a relatively new military spouse. While I'd like to have a career, I just don't understand how I’m supposed work if my spouse can never help with the kids' doctor's appointments, take them to and from school or be around the house when we need home maintenance or repairs. Twenty years of doing all that solo feels pretty daunting to me. Any suggestions?


-- Perplexed at Ft. Polk

Dear Perplexed,

I understand how 20 years of solo-managing all of the kids' appointments and other daytime commitments could sound a bit daunting. Let me ask you a question though: why does it have to be that way?

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely going to be times when the military takes priority. Since you're a new military spouse, I'm assuming your service member is pretty new at this, too. That likely means the military will win more often than not these days. Please know: it doesn't always have to be that way.

I’ve been with my service member for 12 of his 14 years of service, and over those years, like with almost any other career he could have chosen, we have learned to navigate compromises along the way.  Now that he is more senior in his positions, he has a bit more freedom to step away from work to help with things at home when needed so I’m not the only one missing work all the time.

Here's what I would say to every military spouse: don’t assume the military always wins. Have a conversation with your spouse where you each talk about what can and cannot be missed during each week.

It's guaranteed that there will be times the military wins just because of the military’s nature. But as you navigate doctor appointments and other daytime commitments, make sure you’re not operating on assumptions. If you start out your careers this way, you're setting yourselves up for success in the long run.

Good luck,

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Dear Career tackles the trickiest careers questions from real military spouses with advice from spouse career experts at In Gear Career.

A part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes, In Gear Career chapters provide professional development and networking to career-minded military spouses located at military installations around the world.

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