Good morning everybody! Today I want to discuss something I believe deeply that I feel military spouses of all kinds need to think about.
I actually do not like the label “military spouse”. For as many reasons I can find to why it is beneficial, there are just as many I can think of to why it is not. I think the term “military spouse” gives partners of military service members a sense of community. It provides a network of people who share similar struggles, and a support system of people who understand military lifestyle. For these reasons, the term is good.
HOWEVER. I think a lot of military spouses (women in particular), find the need to identify as a “military spouse”, and that alone. Their identity rests in their husband or wife’s accomplishments and career goals, and they forget about their own. Now, I am in NO WAY saying we should not whole-heartedly support them. Soldiers need our support, especially from their families and spouses. Nonetheless, I don’t believe significant other’s must “identify” as a “military spouse” because I think it takes away our own goals, accomplishments, and at the core – our own identity.
I will speak about military wives in particular since I will be one in the somewhat near future. How many times a week, or even a day, do we see military significant other’s posting on social media about their husband’s job or how hard it is to be in a relationship with someone in the military? As proud of our spouses as we are, and as hard as our relationships are and can be, why are these areas the primary focus of military spouse conversation? Why can’t we discuss our own dreams and career goals, and help each other meet them, instead of focusing all of our energy on our partner’s career? How many times a week do we see military service members posting socially about how proud they are of something their wife or partner has accomplished?
I can’t speak on behalf of any other relationship, however, I see more military wives and girlfriends posting about their husband’s career more than their own career, accomplishments, or success. I feel like in 2018, military significant others need to start taking responsibility for their own success and career, and stop living vicariously through their partner’s accomplishments. Don’t think being a military spouse is the sole reason you were put on this Earth, and the only accomplished title you can have during your partner’s term of service.
Embrace who YOU ARE, your UNIQUENESS, and your PURPOSE. Yes, you are technically a military spouse (we all are), but THAT IS NOT YOUR LIMIT. I am so sick of seeing women settle for just their milspouse title, and I see it in women from all walks of life. Your goals are not unrealistic, and just because your partner is living their dream doesn’t mean you can’t live yours.
There are some factors that are discouraging. If you choose to live with your partner, and you are stationed in Guam or Diego Garcia, or even in Rota Spain, yes that makes accomplishing your dreams more difficult. If you choose to live apart from your partner, it makes the dreams you want to accomplish with your partner more difficult, or relishing in your personal victories difficult because your partner isn’t there to celebrate. But we can choose to look at this lifestyle negatively or positively. If there is a will, there is a way, and no amount of distance and no location can stop you from working towards some sort of goal you have! As long as you are proud of yourself and the work you do, you can be proud of the identity you’ve created, and stop settling for your partner’s identity.
Let me be clear and also state that this is not the case with every military couple! There are plenty of successful military spouses who have partner’s who are very supportive and proud of them. And not every woman spouse I’ve met or known thinks this way or is this way. But there is a large majority who do, and I think it’s time to speak on it.
Stop settling for less and chase after more. For example, my career goals are just as varied an unpredictable as my fiance’s, but we support each other even though it means it makes our lives more difficult. As a dancer, professional work is not guaranteed, and I have to audition for jobs that could take me to a new state, take me on a cruise line for 9 months, or keep me in the NYC area and away from my partner. My personal sentiments are if I don’t give myself a fair shot in this lifetime, when will I ever give myself the time to flourish? And if your partner doesn’t support your goals and dreams, then that is something else to think about too.
To wrap this up, it all boils down to knowing the difference between unconditional love and support for your partner and their job, and identifying yourself with your partner’s job. Be supportive of each other, love each other, and embrace who you are because it is just as IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL as your partner’s identity. Set goals, crush them, and be proud of YOU!
Until next time, xoxo