SpouseBuzz

From the Mailbag

Here at SpouseBUZZ, we intend to have an honest dialogue about all aspects of military life. This means addressing the good, the bad and the ugly. SpouseBUZZ is an open forum and we encourage you to submit your stories, and your complaints. We are also committed to highlighting the diversity among milspouses. Milspouses are not a monolithic group of people, as this email from a Navy wife illustrates:

I saw that a number of the authors have children; are any of your authors child free or child less? If they are is it possible to get an a few articles geared towards those that are child less or child free. I myself am a child free professional women. I have found it very hard to find my voice among military families. It appears that so much of the support system is geared to the traditional military family (SAHM, Active Duty Dad, and multiple children). There is a gapping hole for those who do not belong to the traditional military families, for example single active duty parents, child free/child less couples. My husband and I find ourselves drifting farther and farther away from the military community because of the heavy emphasis placed on traditional families. I for one have approached my local FFSC (Fleet and Family Support Center) and requested more child free/child less activities but I was informed that we were a small minority and therefore less important. The FFSC felt that it should better focus on the traditional families instead of the non traditional. I would enjoy reading more about your SpouseBuzz program if it could make room and provide support for the child free/child less military families. We might not have children but we are a family.

We have three childless authors here at SpouseBUZZ, including myself. I can relate to this Navy wife on a number of levels. While I have never found myself as alienated from the military community as Navy wife appears to be, I have experienced many frustrations throughout the years. When I first began my journey as a military spouse at Ft. Hood, I worked in a field which required a lot of my time. I did not have a traditional 9-5 job. I would venture to say that of the married couples in my husband's Battalion, 90% of them had children. Most of the BN events were planned during the day, as most of the mothers were stay-at-home moms. Spouses like myself were often torn between taking time off to attend these functions, or not doing so and risking the stigma of being labeled "uninvolved" because we were continually absent from group functions.

Though it may seem silly to some who have never wrestled with this issue, professional, childless spouses often feel left out because activities are mostly geared towards families, and are generally planned on days when we are working. There are very few social, adult-only activities planned for military spouses. At least, that has been my experience. Of course, social networking is a two-way street, which is why I have hosted several adult-only gatherings, and I've found that most people were happy to come and engage in adult conversation. While I understand that the majority of milspouses have children, and they have to consider things like babysitters and bedtimes, I think it's important that they are aware of the challenges facing childless, working spouses.

My husband has always been supportive of my desire to have a career, but there were times when he would bring home a flyer and I would groan and imagine the chatter, "she missed another function." And, quite honestly, there were times when taking a day of my hard earned vacation and spending it with hoards of energetic children didn't appeal to me in the least. As you might imagine, children are a shock to the system for those of us who don't spend much time around them. It's not that we don't like them, we're just not used to them.

To be fair, childless couples are a minority in almost any profession, but I believe that milspouses apply more pressure on ourselves to be as involved as possible in the military community, something that I don't see in the outside, professional world. Pressure aside, most of us want to be more involved, we're just unable to do so as frequently as other spouses.

This post is in no way meant to demean parents who, in my opinion, have the most difficult and admirable job in the universe. Furthermore, I believe that most programs/activities should be geared towards the traditional family, as they represent the overwhelming majority of the military community. However, more outreach to adults in other situations would go a long way, and Navy Wife gives us another perspective to consider. I'm hoping that by sharing our diverse experiences, each of us will stop and think about what it means to be a milspouse from the perspective of someone with circumstances different than our own.

Navy Wife, thanks for your email. I can see that this is an important subject for you, and I plan to expand on this topic in the coming weeks and months.

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