Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Milspouses Career...left on hold?

I watched the season finale of Army Wives a lil bit ago. One of the things that came up in the show was the discussion of the fact that careers for milspouses tend to play second fiddle to that of their spouse’s military career. Pamela’s character nailed down the reality in her radio show that our career needs/wants tend to come second to our spouses by default. Sometimes you have to put those dreams aside and other times, you might just have to put them on the back burner for awhile, or you just have be creative about how you can make it happen. It completely depends on your spouse’s job and individual situation. It really resonated with me b/c of my own career aspirations. Now I’ll say first that Gene has been extremely supportive and accommodating to me since we’ve been together. Although he had a choice in his billet about where we would go, we choice Washington to be closer to his children (not the 2 that live with us- Mine). My Career was expected to be put on hold to some degree.
I have many aspirations that I intend to complete, and I know Gene will be very supportive for whatever I choose. I worked for a multi portfolio company in Property Management and was envious of my co workers that were landing better positions within our company or others, which was my goal at that time. However, being a Navy wife, I had to put those needs aside b/c we had to move…. across the country… in a couple of months. There was no way for me to start working in my field for that short duration. Some might resent the situation but not me. I decided when I married him that he was more important than any job I could have. That didn’t mean I’d give up on my dreams, I’d just have to find a way to make them happen a little harder. Now with having the 2 boys, finding a job that makes enough money to pay for daycare is a different story. Back in Georgia (we’re we just moved from) I made more than enough to cover daycare along with many other bills. Not many milspouses get that lucky or have those opportunities. Since we’ve been in our current location, I’ve not been able to find an opportunity like I had in the south. We have been fortunate that my husband has been able to support us all on his meager E-5 salary.
Depending on your spouse’s job and the potential frequencies of moving, it can be very challenging to have a career and work in that career field. It is possible but you have to work at it and be flexible. My specialization narrows those opportunities a bit. We’ve been lucky b/c Gene’s job to this point at least has offered choices of billets to a certain extent and we’ve been able to pick places where he’s likely to be able to remain for longer periods of time. Many others don’t have those options. You are more or less pulled by the puppet strings that our government controls.
Anyway, Pamela pointed out some realities of being a military wife. We often are at the mercy of our husband’s job appointments and schedules and don’t always have the ability to be gainfully employed in our career fields. I’ve been lucky thus far but I may not always be. I do appreciate that he considers my needs, however, as much as he can when choosing orders. He knows I had a life and career aspirations well before he came into my life and he respects that which means the world to me.
For those spouses that wonder how to make it happen, you can make it happen. It just might require some thinking outside the box and diligence. Lord knows I’m doing my far share of legwork.

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