You Can Be An Army Spouse and Have A Career

I recently asked the question on the Facebook fan page about how being married to a soldier had affected the spouse’s ability to have a career. I received quite a few responses but most had a recurring theme that quickly summed up led to one statement:

What career?!

It saddens me to see so many who have had to put their own careers on hold because of the career that their spouse chose. Now, if you did this completely voluntarily and are actually relieved that your career is on hold or it enabled you to raise your kids…kudos to you! And I mean that very sincerely.

For those who are a bit sad or perhaps frustrated at the lack of career options, I feel for you. When my husband was assigned to his first duty station, I also looked for a job. Funny thing is I was actually moving to a much bigger area than where we currently were. Perhaps it was the job market at the time but the only job I was offered involved a $15K pay cut. Ouch!

That is when I decided to venture out on my own. When my husband enlisted, that was our deal – he could enlist and I could start a business. But as time inched closer, I started to chicken out. When that job offer was made, I thought why not and took the plunge.

There have certainly been ups and downs with working on my own. The lack of a guaranteed paycheck definitely being one of the “downs” but it has also brought with it many rewards. Perhaps one of the greatest being that I was able to see my husband regardless of whatever crazy Army schedule he was on at the moment. I didn’t have to worry about requesting time off when I received two hours of notice of his return from overseas. That was a definite plus.

Since he’s been medically retired, I have continued my business and it has allowed me so many freedoms that I wouldn’t have with a “real” job.

So why am I going into all of this? Because if you work for yourself, your job is almost always portable from one post to the next. It doesn’t matter where he is training, what his schedule is like or when he deploys, your business can always be there for you.

If you really want to work, consider branching out on your own. I will write some future posts about exactly how to do this and soon.

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Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. I’m so glad you posted about this, because every official army board/website is filled with people who seem to believe a wife should not have a career.

    I am a student and my fiance is about to enlist. I asked the simple question of who had experience with paperwork/Tricare issues when they did not move with and live with their husband. No one would answer my question, instead all I got was “you shouldn’t voluntarily split up your relationship, you need to move with him, your job is to support him and live on base.” Essentially I was told it wasn’t important for me to finish school or follow MY dreams, but to stick with him.

    Unfortunately if I do continue in my line of studies, I cannot make a career out of it while my husband is in the army and still live together. I do believe that unless you run your own business, it is next to impossible to have your own career as an army wife.

    1. I agree with you that there are many careers that are difficult to continue and live the Army lifestyle. The medical field seems to be on of the few professions that transfers from post to post but even then you have to deal with different licensing tests in each state. Running your own business is an “easier” way to have your own career but there are other options as well.

      I strongly believe in finishing your education and living your own life outside of only being a “wife” or a “mom” to someone. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a career, it could be hobbies or volunteer service but you can’t lose YOU in trying to be everything to everyone else. You can still fully support your husband without sacrificing yourself.

      As far as your questions that weren’t answered, feel free to email me (stacey AT I’m happy to help. I’m not an advocate of living apart either but it sounds like it is only a temporary situation to complete your education. In that case, I fully support your decision.

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