Being married in the military is not easy. For all intents and purposes of this article, let’s go with the stereotype of the male service member and the military spouse, although this advice applies to other relationships as well. There are sacrifices on both ends that must be made.
The military member must deal with being away from his military spouse and family for some irreplaceable events and the spouse may be put in a situation where she feels as if she is “second fiddle” to the husband’s career. So how can the husband help the spouse set up for success in the career both while he serves and come time for transition to the civilian sector?
Here are a few ways to help your spouse prepare for military transition:
1. Ensure she understands from the start some of the challenges she may face with moving from assignment to assignment.
Being honest with your spouse and checking in from time to time to see how she is handling the inconsistency is critical. Having built up frustration or lack of confidence in a career could manifest itself in a multitude of ways that one may not expect in the future. When the transition point is nearing (Read: One Year to Transition: 5 Things Your Career Counselor Didn’t Tell You), asking her what her vision is now that some of these challenges may subside will likely help provide clarity on her aspirations.
2. Encourage her to be her own person and be proud of who she is.
If she wants to be a stay-at-home wife/mother and your finances allow for it, that is fantastic. But be sure that is part of her life plan and not something she may have resentment for later.
3. Introduce her to the transition centers on base for resources.
Most military installations have resources for spouses in their programs but aren’t as widely advertised. Introducing your spouse to programs for support may give her new avenues she hadn’t thought about.
4. If education is a missing piece (or she is looking for further advancement) be sure she is aware of what resources are out there for spousal assistance in terms of education benefits.
She may be able to complete a certification or degree with the military’s help and secure a position that she didn’t think she had the opportunity to before. (Read: Turning a Passion Into a Paycheck)
5. Familiarize her with LinkedIn and other networking resources where she can meet professional women in business who can offer advice.
Or where she can explore what her options really are in the workforce across the networks, no matter where you may end up while in the service, or during the transition out.
6. Encourage her to seek out companies that focus on helping military spouses.
Nowadays more organizations are attempting to assist spouses in their next move as a means to support the service member’s dedication a military career. Amazon is a great example of an organization that supports spouses in their endeavors with remote opportunities. We have a sister company called Military Spouse that specializes in jobs for military spouses.
Inform her of the presence of organizations like the MSCCN (Military Spouse Corporate Career Network) and other groups that are specifically designed for spouse employment. These orgs exist explicitly with the military spouse in mind. If corporate America is not in the cards, your spouse may be interested in work from home jobs for Military Spouses.
7. Ask the question whether or not it is her turn for career lead (or more equivalency) now that you are exiting the service.
This may depend on your relationship dynamic, but if she has felt stifled and is looking for progression then giving her the opportunity to pursue something she may be passionate about may benefit you both. Having the discussion may also open up new ideas for your career endeavor you didn’t expect.
Moreover, without delving into relationship advice, the premise is that helping to set your spouse up for career success while you are still serving will better increase her odds of potential in the “after-life.” Encouragement, support and direction to the proper resources that are becoming more readily available in America will prepare both of you for the opportunities that exist outside the camo walls.