Today, I want to share a few tips about involving your spouse in your Army or military career. These are just some tips I learned during my 15 year career in the Army. Please keep in mind this advice is geared for both female and male Soldiers.
If you are married, or have a significant other, it really helps if you can get them on board and be supportive. In the Army, I’ve really noticed two types of spouses. The first type is very supportive of their other half. They understand the commitment and sacrifice it takes to serve and they rarely complain. They want their other half to be successful and they are their spouse’s biggest cheerleader.
On the other hand, the other type of spouse seems to be anti-military OR wants nothing to do with their spouse’s career. They are distant. They complain a lot. They never attend any events or go out of the way to do the little things to be supportive. In many cases, these relationships don’t last, especially if the other half plans on making a career out of the military.
From personal experience, I can tell you that having a supportive spouse is HUGE, especially if you want to make a career out of the Army. You need someone who loves you unconditionally, supports you and is willing to make personal sacrifices.
My goal today is to share a few tips with you to involve your spouse in your Army career so you can be successful AND have a good marriage at the same time.
One of the best ways to get your spouse to be supportive is to look at things from their perspective. Find out what they like and dislike about you serving in the military and hear them out. Find out what they want in life and do your best to help them reach their goals and dreams. Show them that you care.
Another good thing to do is to introduce your spouse to other spouses. Find 2-3 of your peers who are married and introduce your spouse to their spouses. This will let them make new friends and connect with other people who are in a similar relationship.
Furthermore, get your spouse to participate in the Family Readiness Group. Have them attend the meetings a few times and get to know the other spouses and learn more about the Army.
You should also get your spouse to attend events with you, such as some ceremonies, dining ins, dining outs, galas and other events. In most cases, they will have a fun time at these events and meet other people.
It would also be a wise decision to share your goals and dreams with your spouse. Let them know why you want to serve in the Army and what it means to you. Explain to your spouse specifically what your goals are and let them know the big picture. Explain to them how they are part of that picture.
In addition, make sure your spouse feels appreciated. Let them know by telling them and showing them that you appreciate their support, commitment and sacrifice and that you need them. This goes a long way. Do the little things by spending time with them, helping them when you are home, sending them cards and gifts, etc.
If I had to boil it down to one word it would be “communication.” Communicate with your spouse often, share your feelings, hopes and dreams and talk through the issues.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are a male or female Soldier, it’s important to have a supportive spouse, especially if you plan on making a career out of the military. Following the advice listed above is a good starting point. Please keep in mind that your spouse has their own hopes and dreams too, so make sure you are supportive of them as well.
What are your thoughts? What do you do to involve your spouse in your military career? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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9 thoughts on “Involving Your Spouse in Your Army or Military Career”
I agree with you and everyone here that communications is vastly the most important aspect of maintaining spouse support in your Army career. Thank communication has to include both the good and the bad, though.
My brother was passed over for promotion twice due to the fact that his wife was not participating in any of the events, groups, and functions that Officers’ wives on that particular base were expected to. The first time, he was told by a friend on the Board that this was the reason.
Now, keep in mind, the wife was very proud to have a husband in the U.S. Military and she took full advantage of all the benefits of being an Army wife. I firmly believe that if he had sat her down and talked to her after the first time he was passed over, he might have been able to complete his Army career without getting passed over the second time.
Sorry to hear that he was passed over twice.
Information and communication are the key to a healthy military marriage. If your spouse doesn't support you it's going to make things very difficult. You need to be honest about the responsibility that your spouse may have to face both on a day to day basis and if a deployment occurs.
Try to get your spouse involved with other spouses and maybe involved in some of the groups that are offered on base. This isn't a necessity, but it helps many of the spouses cope with other spouses that are going through a similar situation.
Honesty and communication.
I agree: communication is always key in every relationship. Frankly, many marriages that break down because of lack of communication might not have been marriages at all if the parties had been able to be honest with each other before they got that far into the relationship. Even more important, though, would be honesty. Unless you and your spouse are communicating honestly about your needs, goals, and dreams, it is just idle chatter.
This is a good article, with good advice that can be used by non-military couples also.
I’m glad my article could help!
Hi Faye – My husband had basically married the first girl who said yes after he got home from a particularly bad deployment where he was faced with mortality. They were complete strangers, which doesn’t ring the death knell on a relationship (I mean – you have to start somewhere, right?) – but sometimes they COULD NOT communicate. As the Commander’s secretary she was preparing orders and probably knew who was going where before most everyone – including her husband. But she wasn’t allowed to talk about it. The nail in the coffin on their relationship wasn’t even that. It was the fact that she resented his TDYs, there were no common goals, and they couldn’t find common ground after a while.
It’s one thing to be single-minded and focused on your career when single but when in a committed relationship then decisions that affect you both should definitely be discussed. You know what they say about ASSUME, right? Both sides need to have real conversations about what they want because it doesn’t matter how good you are – no one is a mind reader. Communication is vital and you need to find out of if there is common ground. In my opinion, the second most important thing is compromise. There has to be some give and take from all parties.
When you are married, your career involves both parties. Like you said, communication and compromise are key!
This is a great post Chuck!
You hit the nail on the head when you said communication. The break down in most marriages is lack of communication. If we give our spouses some undivided attention and truly listen to what they are telling us, we can work through difficulties that arise.
It is super important that a spouse supports the other spouse in their career choice. Without that support, either the marriage or the career will, most likely fail.