A study that will be released out of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University next year takes a close look at the struggles faced by civilian male military spouses.
The qualitative study took a close, in-depth look over about five months at 2o male civilian military spouses to examine their individual experiences as members of the military spouse community.
What it found, as reported in an initial summary given to the study's participants, will not be a surprise to members of the military community. But the researcher who conducted it hopes that it can lend new scientific support to the problems the male spouse community has long reported, and perhaps result in fixes. Instead of presenting just a group of spouses talking about their individual experiences, the study gives the community something concrete to show leaders. "A lot of it has always been what you would call 'anecdotal evidence,' some of these things were their perceptions of why maybe experiences were different for male and female spouses," said Kenona Southwell, the study's lead author. "This was an opportunity for us to do this in a more scientific way … and actually find out what was going on." The top finding reported in the study is that, as we have discussed on SpouseBuzz before, "husbands feel isolated and excluded from military spouse activities," the summary says.
"Possibly the most common challenge husbands expressed was feeling isolated and unwelcome in the military community," the summary says. "Support resources for military spouses are geared towards female spouses and sometimes exclude males. Husbands described a lack of support for male spouses. They expressed a need for 'battle buddies' who are civilian husbands like themselves, who share in similar experiences, and can provide support."
Other findings include the challenge of mental health for the male spouse during separation and the struggle not being the primary bread winner can present for civilian male spouses.
Southwell hopes that the findings of this study will help male civilian spouses get more support from military leaders and others.
"They really would like others to hear their experiences and understand their experiences," she said. "I'm hoping once the paper is published ... more people will hear of their experiences and more people will understand how life is for them."