Being a Military Spouse When Youre a GuyOverviewWays to adjust to your role as a civilian male married to a female service member. What to expect when your wife is in the military Adjusting to being a male civilian spouse Signs of stress ResourcesThe deployments and frequent moves of the military lifestyle can put pressure on anymarriage. When the wife is the military member and the husband is a civilian, the strainmay be greater. In fact, research shows that the divorce rate for such couples is morethan double the divorce rate for couples where the husband is the service member. Thismay be because military spouse support tends to be geared toward women. Anotherreason is that men tend to be less likely than women to ask for help. If youre a malemilitary spouse, its important to know how to help keep your marriage strong. You canlearn what challenges youre likely to face and prepare yourself for them. You can learnto recognize when you need help and how to use the resources available to you. Andyou can build a support system of other people you can count on.Return to the TopWhat to expect when your wife is in the militaryWhether youre a former service member or youre new to the military lifestyle, being themale spouse of a service member can take some getting used to. Some of thechallenges to prepare for include: Others may assume youre the service member. You may find yourself explaining over and over to people that youre a civilian and your wife is the military member. If this bothers you, remind yourself that the assumption is a natural one given that the majority of service members are men. You may feel uneasy that your wife spends so much time with other men. Your wife may be one of very few women in her command. If you feel anxious because of this, its important to talk with her or a professional about your concerns before your feelings affect your marriage. The goal is for the two of you to manage any concerns as a team. That is much better than allowing concerns or suspicions to grow and damage your marriage. You may feel isolated. This is particularly true if you PCS to a location where you dont have family or friends. You may have little in common with the other spouses, most of whom are probably women, or the other men, who may be service members.
Your role in the marriage may clash with your identity as a male, particularly if youre unemployed or are the primary caregiver for children. Role reversals can be difficult for any man who cares for children and the home while his wife earns the family income. It can be especially challenging in the military setting, which emphasizes traditional ideas of masculinity.Return to the TopAdjusting to being a male civilian spouseWhile theres a growing awareness in the military of the unique needs of husbands ofservice members, the spouse support system is still geared toward wives. The majorityof spouses club members will be women and the activities may not appeal to you. Thatmeans you may have to work harder to find people you connect with and activities thatinterest you. Think of ways youve adjusted to new situations in the past. Going to college, starting a job, getting married, moving, becoming a parent -- those are all new beginnings that come with an adjustment period. What helped you during those times? Where did you turn when you had questions or needed a hand? The details may be different this time, but youre the same person with the same skills and abilities that helped you make adjustments in the past. Find people and organizations to connect with. Look for groups to join, such as clubs, civic groups, sports teams, and faith-based groups. This will help to build your support network and get you involved with the community. Take advantage of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, events, and trips. Youll meet other people with similar interests, whether its joining a chess club or going rock climbing. Make time to do things you enjoy. Its all too easy to get caught up in everyday life and neglect yourself. Try not to let this happen. Doing what makes you feel good, whether its biking, working out, fishing, or reading, is essential to relieving stress. This same advice goes for you as a couple. Its easy to forget to take time together doing positive, fun things. Focus on enjoying yourselves, even if that means agreeing not to talk about certain issues at these times. Reach out to other couples where the male is the civilian. It can help to be with someone whos in the same situation youre in. And youll have someone to hang out with while your wives are deployed or training. Talk openly as a couple. Communication is an essential ingredient of all healthy relationships. Good communication involves making a commitment to talk to each other often, even if it has to be by email, video chat, or phone.Return to the TopSigns of stress
If you start to feel angry, depressed, or resentful of your wife or the military or if yourrelationship has become strained, then its time to get help. Here are signs that youneed helping dealing with stress: Youre frequently angry or irritable. You have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Or youre sleeping too much. You and your wife go for amounts of time without speaking. Giving each other the silent treatment is a sign that youre avoiding the issue. You have become emotionally detached. You have stopped giving love and guidance to your spouse. You blame your wife for problems in your relationship. You are abusing drugs or alcohol. You turn to drugs or alcohol to escape reality or you frequently get drunk. You feel jealous or suspicious much of the time. Brief feelings of this sort are normal. However, its not normal to be preoccupied with fears that your spouse is being unfaithful.While everyone is different, men tend to be less likely than women to reach out whenthey need help. Remember, theres no shame in admitting that things are tough. Call orsee a good friend or family member with whom you feel comfortable talking. Anotheroption is to visit the chaplain on your installation or arrange to talk with a counselor.Sometimes the only way to improve a situation is to find someone who can help you.Return to the TopResourcesYour military support servicesEach service branch sponsors information and support programs for service membersand their families. You can call or visit any installation Army Community Service Center,Marine Corps Community Services, Fleet and Family Support Center, or Airman andFamily Readiness Center regardless of your branch affiliation.If you arent near an installation, National Guard Family Assistance Centers areavailable in every state. The Local Community Resource Finder on the National GuardFamily Program at www.jointservicessupport.org will identify your closest center.Military OneSourceThis free 24-hour service is available to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve members(regardless of activation status) and their families. Consultants provide information andmake referrals on a wide range of issues, including relationships and adjusting to themilitary lifestyle. Free face-to-face counseling sessions (and their equivalent by phoneor online) are also available. Call 1-800-342-9647 or go to www.militaryonesource.mil tolearn more.Return to the Top