From the Mailbag: Can You Maintain a Career and Be a Milspouse, Too?

A reader has some questions about balancing a career with the military lifestyle. Some personally identifiable information has been omitted, or slightly altered.

I am writing because I want to know more about the options of a Navy wife in terms of keeping her career.I am [in the medical field], with a Masters degree and I am doing my PhD now. My boyfriend is a navy lieutenant and he wants to pursue his career in the navy.Our careers are very important for both of us, and it's hard for us to consider giving up our professional endeavors to be together.

I am willing to compromise and accept the fact that probably we are going to be moving every few years, but I feel like I need to work in my field in order to be happy. I believe that a balance between a personal and a professional life is the key to feeling self-realized, and I don't see myself as a housewife.

So I wrote all this to ask you: how common is for navy wives to combine their marriages with having a job? Should I have the idea that the great majority of them find difficulty combining their marriages with their professions and they end up staying at home raising their children? (I am pretty convinced that this is not true).

My boyfriend and I are just trying to figure out what our options are in order to make conscious decisions regarding our future together, and not be frustrated when we face this kind of difficulty. We love each other so much and we don't want to give up this relatioship because of incompatibility of our professional dreams.

There's no way any of us can tell her what she can or should do because there are too many variables at play here, and everyone's situation and relationship is unique. But I'm comfortable stating that due to frequent moves, the military lifestyle *can* make following a career path a bit more challenging than it is for most civilians. However, there are plenty of military spouses who have made it work. Then again, there are those who have been content to put their careers on hold, or switch career paths. There are also spouses who thought they wouldn't enjoy the military lifestyle, but end up thriving. The converse is also true. Personalities and actually getting a taste of the lifestyle are very important, and priorities can -- and often do -- shift.

So, we can't offer concrete answers, but we can certainly share our own personal experiences with respect to careers and the military lifestyle. What say you?

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