Why are They Surprised I'm an Enlisted Spouse?


Why didn't you tell me everyone would be so surprised that I am an enlisted spouse?  I’m a reporter, so I meet people often and strike up conversations. On top of that, I happen to cover the military beat, so I interact with military members and government officials pretty much on a daily basis. I’ve noticed recently that whenever I tell one of them my husband is a Marine, they always seem so surprised to hear me say that he’s a corporal (an E-4).

It seems as if because I’m a professional woman with a career and I appear to have  all my stuff together, there’s just no way I could be married to an enlisted servicemember. I mean, enlisted wives don’t have real jobs, right? They just stay at home, make babies, and shop at the exchange, right? Sometimes they babysit for extra cash or sell Avon, right?


Enlisted wives can do much more than shop and procreate. Believe it or not, enlisted wives can earn degrees. Enlisted wives can be professionals, have careers and maintain themselves in a way that doesn’t make people assume they need to attend a Marine Corps Ball etiquette class (thank you for that, Camp Lejeune).

I’m an enlisted wife, and I worked my tail off to get to where I am. I took no-paying internships, low-paying entry-level broadcasting jobs, and eventually made my way to where I am today: happily married and gainfully employed as a newspaper reporter. Sure, maintaining my career won’t be easy since I’ve chosen to marry into the military, but maintaining a career as a military spouse isn’t easy whether you’re an enlisted spouse or an officer’s one.

I know I’m not the only enlisted wife out there with a career--with goals and plans for a future that doesn’t entirely revolve around my husband’s deployments. I had dreams and goals for myself before I married him, and those aspirations haven’t changed because he put on a ring on my finger.

If anything, my drive has gotten stronger. I want a career more because of the adversity I face as a military spouse, not to mention as an enlisted spouse.

Do you ever feel you’re being judged because of your husband’s rank? That people can’t believe your husband is who he is because of who you are?

Amanda Wilcox is an enlisted Marine Corps wife living and working in Jacksonville, N.C. as a reporter for the local paper, The Jacksonville Daily News. She and her husband, Joe, are newlyweds learning to live the married life one day at a time. They have three children: a black labrador retriever, a toy poodle and a black cat.

Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story.  If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.

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