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Can Being A "Bad" Military Wife Make You A Better Wife In General?

Hey military nesties,

It's been quite a while since I've been active on these boards, but I wrote something on my blog the other day that resonated with quite a few of my military wife friends, so I thought I would share it here. (

I'm curious to know what you think, either here or on the blog: Do we start to lose our own identities when we take the role of "military wife" too seriously? (Please read the link before you answer that question - that way you know where I'm coming from.) This is NOT intended to be snarky or promote stereotypes - just an interesting, adult conversation about what it means to be a military wife. (If there are any husbands on this board, feel free to chime in, too! And I'd also be curious to know what the Active Duty members here think about it.)




Re: Can Being A "Bad" Military Wife Make You A Better Wife In General?

  • I serve along side my husband, & I can tell you from experience that there is nothing more annoying to active duty personnel than a spouse that takes her role too seriously.  It's one thing to support & be proud, but once you start using your husbands rank/achievements as your own success you've taken it too far.  I understand that it is a lifestyle, but it's HIS job, not yours... He signed the dotted line, not you.  Wives with husbands with different jobs don't go crazy over their husbands careers.  Why do so many spouses feel like they can claim something that their husband does?  I had a colonel's wife question me when I didn't salute her at the gate after checking her ID card... She was not a colonel, therefore I have no reason to salute her.  Spouses need to stop living off their husbands success and get some of their own.  They should be proud of what they, as independent women, do to support their families as well.
  • I will never understand the mentality that being married to someone in the military is a job, an identity, any more than just being a wife is a job or an identity. I've always found it strange when women define themself only by what their husband does for a living, regardless of what that is. The question that I have is why is it so common for military wives to do it?  I get that our life is uniquely challenging but doesn't everyone feel that way at some point?

  • i dont come on here very often ( I am a bump girl) but i LOVED your blog post. everything about it and I completely agree. I am in the military as well but for the longest time i was "just a dependent" and really struggled to keep my identity and career moving 4 times in 2 years, having other wives call me and tell me I am not supportive because i have my own career, not going to "spouse events", and the final "military wife fail"- joining the military myself. I cant tell you how many spouses were appalled I would do such a thing. How could i be a good military wife and be in the military. the horror! Loved your post :)
    Married 11/27/09 and TTC right away
    Dx: Septate uterus, endometrial polyps, PCOS, endometriosis, hypo thyroid
    4 uterus surgeries to correct my septum (although it is still there) and to remove polyps
    Baby 1 and 2: BFP 3/3/11 with 2 babies EDD 11/1/11, M/C 4/6/11
    Baby #3: 8/11 pregnant EDD 4/27/11 and m/c:(
    Baby #4: 10/12/11 BFP! EDD 6/16/12m/c 10/26/11
    Baby #5: 3/13/12 BFP! EDD 11/25/12 ANOTHER m/c :(
    Baby #6: 2/14/13- BFP! EDD 10/24/12, CP 2/19/13
  • being a wife married to someone in the military is not for everyone.  it does take a "special" person to do it successfully just as it does in any job with has dangers associated with it, ie, police, fireman, etc.  place on top of that the depolyments, moves, children issues with the same.  my husband is retiring in two months after 35 years and part of me is sad -- the other overjoyed.  over the years i have met so many wonderful spouses who have enriched my life.  some were really into the military life, others wanted to have little to do with it.  it is nice to have that choice without it affecting your spouse's career as it used to.   that being said, i always encouraged young spouses to at least have a couple of military friends so that when the sh.. does hit the fan ( believe me it will when least expected)  there will be someone who understands what is happening in a way your civilian friends may not.  what ever you do,  enjoy!!!  life is full of journies you never expected to take and then pretty soon you are looking at retirement and thinking how did it go so fast.
  • Hey!!  I loved that blog!  Yes, I actually followed orders- pun intended- and read your blog.  I am a Navy wife and one of my best friends is an Air Force wife, and we both feel the same way you do.  We are not baby producing, money hording, unfaithful women.  We are still just as strong as we have always been- we just lead a different life than most wives.  I have my own job, make my own money, and above everything else I am married to my husband not the military!

    I think too many women love the title so much of being a "military wife" or a "navy wife" that they don't realize the negative stigma that they, themselves, have attached to said name.  To me the "military wife" lifestyle leaves little to be desired. No one wants to leave somewhere they have finally set up a home, found the best hairdresser, the best grocery store, a great date night restaurant just in order to leave and start from scratch somewhere new.

    I am proud to be a navy wife, but because I am proud of my husband and the work he does.  He has to put his career first, and stand up for people that aren't appreciative for the work he does...  it takes a big person to do that. 

  • ^^^^^^^

    what she said. 

  • So I'm a little late to the party BUT I wanted to say that I, too, loved your blog post. I struggle with what it means to be married to someone in the military (and am, frankly, not very good at it). 

    One incident that really opened my eyes about this issue was when my husband was in flight school and he had a friend (we'll call him John) who was unhappily married to his wife (let's say Jane). John & my husband had been hanging out at the bar on base. John's wife wanted him to come home NOW. My husband stayed back with other friends and John walked home (also on base). Seems logical, right?

    Then Jane called the MPs on John.

    See, Jane thought it would be a good idea to call the cops on her husband so that he would get arrested for walking home drunk. Hmm, now why would you call the cops on your husband and risk his career when he is the only one bringing in money to support you and your children? Because Jane wanted to prove that she owned him and could control him (almost every time they fought she would threaten to call his commander). 

    She almost got him kicked out of flight school, or worse, just to prove a point. This would never happen if her husband worked at any other job, because most jobs don't come with their own police force at your disposal andplusalso could you imagine threatening to call your husband's boss during an argument? Like your spouses boss cares that said spouse didn't take out the trash when you asked him to.

    I feel like being a military spouse is a slippery slope. We all know that there are sacrifices and times can get rough, but that is life - anyone's life. 

    Anyway, it makes me mad just thinking back on this story, but the 'good' news is that now they are divorced and although John doesn't get enough time with his kids and still has to pay Jane's expenses (she didn't even graduate high school - can you say stereotype?!) they are both better off. Maybe if she was a 'bad' military wife things would have turned out differently. 

    ETA: clarity 

  • Like someone else had mentioned in a previous post, I too am a little late to this board, but I loved your article. While at first I thought I wasn't going to like the article, I can say that I am wrong..I loved it.

    I married my husband in June of this year, and he too is in the military. While yes I have already had to deal with him being away on deployment (prior to us being married) and it sucked, I feel that I have started the identity struggle. Upon his return from deployment and moving through the days getting closer to our wedding, I felt like I was losing me. So many papers had to be completed and knowing that I existed in no definable way other then as "dependent" made me feel like I didn't matter, the role I was taking on as a military wife is just defined as "dependent" and nothing more. 

    Your article helped to shed light on the fact that I am not alone when it comes to feeling like you're lost in the mix as only a "dependent." I too was never one to be into the cliques while I was in school, and I too have gone the extra mile to avoid those military wives cliques. I want to be known as the military wife who supports her husband and stands by his side no matter what, but that I too am my own person. I don't like the idea of other wives acting like their husbands rank is their rank as well. You were your own person before you married into the military, don't lose that distinct characteristic about yourself. 

    I truly wish some of these macho/thick headed military wives who go to the extreme to act as if they know everything that their husband does would read your article and see/realize how stupid they're making themselves look. Thank you for sharing such an awesome article. I look forward to reading more insightful articles such as that, as I continue the journey on being the supportive type of military wife. A journey in defining me as more then just a "dependent."
  • Hey everyone! Wow, so I checked back a few times after originally posting, didn't see any responses, and gave this board up for dead. Then I came back here today to see if anyone's coming to Fort Bragg NC and wants to buy my house (do you? do you?), and I saw all these lovely responses to this post. 

    I'm so glad it resonated with so many of you - Finding the "right" way to be a military spouse was something I struggled with for a long time, and it was like this huge revelation when I realized I don't *have* to be a military spouse -- I'm married to my husband. Not the military. :) I have plenty of friends - regular wives, military wives, women in the military, and of course I can't leave out the singles. By not confining myself to a single "clique," it's made life so much better.
  • I think this blog has a good point. I am proud that my husband is in the military. I have noticed he came a long way from when we were first dating (we met in High School) to the confident soldier he is today and I love him. However, I never heard of the military stereotype until after I was married. Sure, military life can be hard on a spouse. It can be really hard but after being called "dependent" so many times on the paperwork that sometimes I felt that was just my identity until I realized it wasn't. I was my husband's wife, I was a writer and someone who has their own identity away from my husband's career. Establishing my own sort of mark in the world is very important!
  • Hi all! Late to the game, but posting in case the poster comes back and sees the comments :) 

    I love this! Not married yet, but we've been together for a million years. One of the reasons we waited to get married was so I could go to college, live out in the real world withOUT being a dependent, and get some real world experience before we got married. I've met a million of my fiancee's friends and their wives over the years, as well having my own friends in the military or knowing military girlfriends/spouses over the years. I VOWED not to be "that wife."

    When he first went to basic I had that "I have to completely devote myself to the Army or else I'm a bad girlfriend" phase. 9 weeks later I realized how completely drained I was. And then I realized it was because I was devoting SO MUCH time and energy into being a "good girlfriend." 

    I did a youth mentor program for four years and one of the things that we were constantly told (and that we constantly told our kids) is that you have to take care of yourself before you can help other people. I think the same principle applies to this. You have to be balanced and in a good place in order to ACTUALLY be a good girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. And that does mean that sometimes you have to look after your own interests. From my own experience and observations, I think a lot of military members PREFER it when their spouses make a concerted effort to make a mark or have a life of their own. Everyone seems to be happier!

    (Sorry this is so long!!)
  • Hello, stumbled across this article by accident. I have read your blog and while I agree with most of what you said, there is, something that I need to comment on. First, I have been a military spouse for 14years, have 2 children and so I am quite familiar with the ups and downs of the military life. The fact that military spouses can have their own careers while being married to a service member, depends on which career path is pursued. For example, if is in the medical or nursing field, those jobs seem to be more plentiful. Most wives have to become creative and switch career options each time they move. Doesn't always come easy. Also, to say that the government does not own the spouses and children? Are you sure about that? Where my husband goes, his family follows. Also, to say that the military doesn't care how the spouses behave or what they do....they do. People are always watching the way we conduct ourselves and people do care if your husband is Ina leadership position and if his wife is helping out by vollunteering for FRg functions. I've been judged for either wanting to help or not helping enough. Yes, people do notice and it is expected and does effect the way people perceive your husband. It really does. I'm just writing from experience. At those military balls, people are watching your every move and your words, trust me. We have a lot of influence over our husbands reputation in the military. So, whether the wife wears her husbands rank out of choice or insecurity, she has to indirectly whether she wants to or not, trust me on this.
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