Whether you're a former service member or you're new to military life, being the male spouse of a service member can take some getting used to. There are some situations you'll likely face that could put a stress on your marriage. You can help keep your marriage strong by learning about these situations you may face, preparing for them, recognizing when you need help and knowing the resources available to you.
What to expect when your spouse is in the military
Military spouses are predominately female. As a male military spouse, you face some of the following situations:
- Other people assume you're the service member. You may find yourself explaining to people over and over again that you're a civilian and your spouse is a service member.
- You may feel isolated. This is particularly true if you move to a new location where you don't have family or friends. You may have little in common with the other spouses, who could be mostly women. You may have left your job or sources of social support behind.
- You may feel uneasy because your spouse spends so much time with other men. If you feel anxious because most of your spouse's unit is male, talk with your spouse or a professional counselor about your concerns before your feelings affect your marriage.
- Your role in the marriage may clash with your identity as a male. Role reversals can be difficult for any couple and can be especially challenging in the military setting, which emphasizes traditional ideas of masculinity. You may find yourself being a stay at home parent.
Adjusting to being a male civilian spouse
your installation chaplain through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 if you need to talk with someone about your relationship.
The military is becoming more aware of the unique needs of male spouses, but the spouse support system is still primarily geared toward women. Don't let this discourage you. Here are some ideas to help you adjust to military life as a male spouse:
- Think of ways you've adjusted to new situations in the past. You've done it before, whether it was going to college, starting a job or getting married. Think about how you adjusted to those changes before.
- Connect with people and organizations. Look for groups like clubs, civic groups, sports teams and faith-based groups to help build your support network and get involved with the community.
- Take advantage of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, events and trips. They offer outdoor recreation opportunities, fitness classes, sports programs and a range of other classes and services designed to help you meet other people with similar interests.
- Reaching out to other couples like you and your spouse. It can help to be with someone who's in the same situation as you.
- Focus on your own career. Being a military spouse doesn't mean you can't have a career, too. The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program offers access to the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship for eligible spouses, certified Career Counselors through Military OneSource, and more than 270 employers as part of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership.
- Make time to do things you enjoy as a couple. Military life can be busy, and taking time together to do positive, fun things can easily get pushed to the back burner. Make the time and focus on enjoying yourselves, even if that means agreeing not to talk about certain issues during those times.
- Talk openly as a couple. Keeping the lines of communication open with your spouse is vital to maintaining a strong relationship.
Signs of stress
Stress is a reality and there are resources available. It's time to get some help if you start feeling angry, depressed or resentful of your spouse or the military, or if your relationship has become strained. Here are signs that you may need help dealing with stress:
- You're frequently angry or irritable.
- You have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- You're sleeping too much.
- You and your spouse go for periods of time without speaking.
- You've become emotionally detached from your spouse.
- You blame your spouse for problems in your relationship.
- You're abusing drugs or alcohol.
- You often feel jealous or suspicious.
Know when and where to get help if your marriage is starting to show signs of strain. There's no shame in admitting that things are tough. Call or see a good friend or family member that you feel comfortable talking with. You can also visit the chaplain on your installation, or call Military OneSource (800-342-9647) to find out about resources.
Even though most military spouses are female, you can still fit in — there are plenty of opportunities, both on the installation and in the community, for you to fit into the military lifestyle.