As a male military spouse, you are part of a community that values you. While you and your wife may be comfortable with your role in the family, you have probably learned that not everyone understands your place in the community. By learning about what to expect in your role as a male military spouse, you can keep your marriage strong and manage your expectations so that the military community becomes your support.
What to expect when your spouse is in the military
Military spouses are predominately female. As a male military spouse, you face some of the following situations:
- Other people assume you’re the service member. You may find yourself explaining to people over and over again that you’re a civilian and your spouse is a service member.
- You may feel isolated. This is particularly true if you move to a new location where you don’t have family or friends. You may have little in common with the other spouses, who could be mostly women. You may have left your job or sources of social support behind.
- You may feel uneasy because your spouse spends so much time with other men. If you feel anxious because most of your spouse’s unit is male, talk with your spouse or a professional counselor about your concerns before your feelings affect your marriage.
- Your role in the marriage may clash with your identity as a male. Role reversals can be difficult for any couple and can be especially challenging in the military setting, which emphasizes traditional ideas of masculinity. You may find yourself being a stay-at-home parent.
Adjusting to being a male civilian spouse
The military is becoming more aware of the unique needs of male spouses, but the spouse support system is still primarily geared toward women. Don’t let this discourage you. Here are some ideas to help you adjust to military life as a male spouse:
- Think of ways you’ve adjusted to new situations in the past. You’ve done it before, whether it was going to college, starting a job or getting married. Think about how you adjusted to those changes before.
- Connect with people and organizations. Look for groups like clubs, civic groups, sports teams and faith-based groups to help build your support network and get involved with the community.
- Take advantage of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, events and trips. They offer outdoor recreation opportunities, fitness classes, sports programs and a range of other classes and services designed to help you meet other people with similar interests.
- Reach out to other couples like you and your spouse. It can help to be with someone who’s in the same situation as you.
- Focus on your own career. Being a military spouse doesn’t mean you can’t have a career, too. The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program offers access to the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship for eligible spouses, certified Career Counselors through Military OneSource, and more than 270 employers as part of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
- Make time to do things you enjoy as a couple. Military life can be busy, and taking time together to do positive, fun things can easily get pushed to the back burner. Make the time and focus on enjoying yourselves, even if that means agreeing not to talk about certain issues during those times.
- Talk openly as a couple. Keeping the lines of communication open with your spouse is vital to maintaining a strong relationship.
Know when and where to get help if your marriage is starting to show signs of strain, or if you need help dealing with your stress. Call or see a good friend or family member that you feel comfortable talking with. You can also visit the chaplain on your installation, or call Military OneSource (800-342-9647) to talk to someone about your relationship or to find out about resources. If you are in crisis, you can contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1).
Even though most military spouses are female, you can still fit in and make military life a positive experience. There are plenty of opportunities, both on the installation and in the community, to enjoy the military lifestyle and become comfortable in your role.