(Closed) Can you and your soldier have compatible careers?

posted 8 years ago in Military
Post # 3
Member
572 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Military life is a hard life.  My Fiance and I have been together for almost 4 years now and he is in the Marines.  He is gone a LOT and I generally only get to see him once a month, if that.  Right now I am in a current situation.  He is away right now until October and I am currently working on a Masters.  Sometimes I wonder if spending all my money on this degree is a  good thing and if I’ll ever use it.  When it comes to relationships usually there is one job that “trumps” the other, so to speak.  Usually, in the military, its his, because he could be deployed, re-stationed and sent anywhere they need him, and of course, youll want to be there with him, through every step of the way.

I was worried about this a lot, but in the end I know a Degree is what I want and I know that it will all work out.  There is no reason for you to give up on your dreams.  In some ways, you’ll be glad that you have something to focus on other than him when he’s gone.  BUT you just need to be aware that you could be moving around a lot, so the importance with a military spouse is flexibility. For me, my Fiance and I have talked and I know that we could possibly be moving every 3 years, communication is key and you both want to know what you will be getting in to if you decide you want to spend your lives together. I would sit down and talk with your B/F or Fiance and let him know your concerns and ask him what his opinion is.  Ask him how everything works, ask him what his plans are, tell him what yours are etc…this will give you a better understanding of how things are going to work out between the two of you.  

As long as you are open with one another and you both are on the same page, then I see no reason why you both cant have what you want.  It’s all about balance, just like in any other relationship, except in this one you might be moving a lot 🙂 Just remember “A job isn’t who you are, it’s what you do” if you love him and know you want to be with him, you both will find a way to make things work.

Post # 4
Hostess
18643 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

Welcome (and don’t worry about posting, that’s what we are here for!!  I don’t have any personal experience but I have never seen a military spouse with a career before.  I’m sure that you can do it if you work for it, do you think that you will be able to get a job no matter where you live with your chosen career?

Post # 5
Member
2395 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Honestly, I’m living apart from my husband right now because I couldn’t work where he is stationed.  Sad, but true.  Our situation is a little different though.  When we got married, we only had 10 more months left until he was done with active duty.  So, it didn’t make sense for me to give up my job, only to be job hunting again in 10 months.  However, if the situation was different, as in, he was career military, then yes, I would have had to give up my job to be where he is.  It would have been a no brainer for me.  I could live with myself if I had to give up my career, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I gave him up. 

I’m not going to lie, having a true bonified career is going to be very hard being a military wife.  Not only will you be moving every 3-4 years (sometimes more), but sometimes where your SO is stationed, there are just no career options (like my situation).  On the flipside though, having an established career, if you can manage the logisticsc, can really help out.  As you know, you soldier can be gone ALOT and if he deploys, then he’ll be gone for a good amount of time and having that career will help you to stay focused and not thinking about how lonely you can get. 

Post # 6
Member
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

I think it depends on what your career is. In my experience, from the soldiers i know and their wives, the wives are teachers, nurses, and work in sales (like at Bed Bath and Beyond) or wait tables. Stuff that is easy to pick up and move every couple of years. That said, a real career job seems like something you’d be looking for every 3 or 4 years at least. It’s tough–a friend of mine is a mechanical engineer and she’s basically jobless in Kansas right now because there are NO mechanical careers out there–the companies are just nowhere nearby. For me, I am a materials engineer, and that is a very, very specific field. I had to stay in St Louis and no way in hell was I able to find a company to even hire me in Georgia. Just not even possible. So if he’d been there permanently (and I’d moved to be with him), my career would have been nonexistent. I can work from home, but even so, i need a home office so even my current company would not have kept me on. I guess I can do procurement work in another state (our current procurement agent works in like minnesota and supports the stl office) but that’s a one in a million position.

Your career will always come second. Hopefully your Boyfriend or Best Friend can rank cities that are more favorable towards both your careers (my KS friend and her husband would like to be in Seattle, but the Army gets the final say so).

Basically, I have not met a successful military wife with a solid career (aside from teaching, nursing, etc….those are more easily employable near army bases) and most military wives end up being SAHMs because it’s just too much work otherwise. My one friend is hoping for contract engineering ON base, but again, those are very far and few between. So i say it REALLY depends on your career, but if you’re anything like me, it would be a one in a million chance you’d have a solid career. This is a main reason why my husband is now OUT of the military–he did his 4 years and has come home. I am not a person who can move around and find employment in my field and he understood that. And i wasn’t keen on moving everywhere. I’d have to find a new, more easily employed field (and i could’ve done it)…but it’s something to consider since you’re pretty deep into education for your field anyways.

Post # 8
Member
1701 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

If he is the one for you, go with it and don’t worry about your career right now.  Volunteer, keep your professional skills up, telecommunte, whatever.  It seems like now is really the time to focus on his career.  He will be able to retire relatively young (with a pension and medical benefits) and you can focus on YOUR career then.  I am in my early 40s and some of my military friends are starting to retire.  Their spouses’ careers have definitely taken a back burner, but they still have 25 more years until THEY retire!  However, this is something they planned from when they were younger.  If you two are on the same page with your life plan, it will all work out.

Post # 9
Member
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

is your SO a lifer in the military? or is this a temporary thing (kinda like what my husband did?)

But yes, finding a 100% telecommute type job isn’t very common.

Is his unit deploying anytime soon? If so, I highly advise to just sorta wait until he gets back and reevaluates.

Also, a few years in the military is usually enough for a guy to decide if he’s a lifer or not. More often than not, most of my friends have solid enough degrees that they want OUT. Now, some of them have like, art history majors, so the pay as an officer keeps them in.

It’s workable, but with two ambitious people, there is some significant compromise that has to go on. I did an LDR for all 4 years my husband was in the Army (i was finishing school, then had a job offer here in St Louis, we got married, lived apart for 6 months, and he finally got out in November) and as long as you both work well long distance (sounds like you do, so far) and you know there is an ending point, that is important. Personally, I needed to know there was an “end” to the madness, so to speak =]

Post # 10
Member
513 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

@MissHobbit: I just finished my bachelors degree. Congrats on almost completing your master’s. I hate to be the difference of opinion on this board. My Fiance is in the Army. I was born in raised in a military town. Military life is what you make it. IF you tell yourself it doesn’t make sense to work or have career because of… You will be the one who suffers in the long run. Your spouse has a duty and so do you. Your duty is to fulfill your dreams along with supporting your spouse. So that being said, if your dream is to be a stay at home mommy then so be it. If your dream is to have a career, then do it. You may have to modify what you can do. Especially when dealing with office space. But in no way does that mean not have a career. I honestly, think a lot of spouses think it is too hard because they don’t actually try anything at all. Also, the military takes care of the very basic needs of military families. So it is easy to stay home if you need or want to. It is also easy to fall into the trap of staying home because your housing costs are 0 or only a fraction of civilian costs if you can’t stay under BAH. And in somplaces you have to go over to find a decent place. All in all my advice is don’t let your spouse’s career hold you back from your dreams. You may have to work harder and think outside the box but it can be done.

Post # 11
Member
1023 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Have the two of you had this convo? Honestly it seems like you have automatically gone to the conclusion that you would be the one to sacrifice a career, why? I don’t think your options are just have a career but not him, have him but not a career, or try to do both…there is also- he doesn’t stay in the military and gets a civilian job so that you may pursue your interest too. 

I’m completely not judging you, but I saw my best friend basically give up everything she’s wanted to be with her husband (who’s airforce) and in a lot of ways it has made her a very sad person. Breaks my heart.

Post # 12
Member
7771 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

My sister’s husband is a Major in the Air Force.  It is hard on her.  For years they lived apart and constantly traveled.  Finally, the found a placement for him that was two hours from where she teaches at University.  They bought a house in between the two places.  But, he moves every 4 years.  So, they are living apart again.  On top of that, he deploys for periods of time.  With her career and PhD, she can find decent jobs teaching adjunct, but to get on tenure track- yes, it will be hard for them to make it work that she finds her ideal position anywhere near him.  But it is possible.  That being said, though it is hard, they stick it out.  They travel A LOT.  In some ways, the distance can be good for them. 

Post # 14
Member
948 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

Fiance is going to be an Army Lifer.  I did 10 years, got out, and now work for DOD (Dept. of Defense).  In my experience, I’ve met many career successful military wives (nurses, counselors, teachers, business women, etc) it really depends on what you make of it and how much harder you’re willing to work for it because it is harder (all the moving, etc).  

I started out as a nurse in the Army then transfered to the career field I have now.  I do that now as a civilian, and the employer I work for owns all DOD billets (positions) related to that career field.  This is great because when Fiance has to relocate because of the Army I can relocate and join him at his next assignment if there’s an opening, (there usually is).  If Fiance gets orders to deploy, I can volunteer to do the same if there’s an open civilian billet.  

Now I realize not all careers have the perks mine does with the military.  But it really is what you make of it.  You do not have to give up your aspirations/dreams.  AND not all military wives are stay at home moms or miserable employees at the PX/BX/Whatever else some other service calls their exchange. btw, there’s nothing wrong with being a Stay-At-Home Mom, I hope to be one when I have kids!

Plus, your Fiance is in the Air Force!  The Air Force is known for having bases located in far less remote areas than the Army!  😉  Hope that works in your favor. 

Post # 15
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Some random thoughts:

I was in the same position as you a year ago, except we weren’t quite on the verge of an enagement.  A deployment made me realize that I wanted to be with him more than anything.  I have since finished my masters and we’ve gotten married.  He is also an USAF officer and I know my career will come second until he retires.  Course, by that time, it’ll be too late for mine to come first!

I can say that looking at the wives in his squadron terrifies me.  A few are also officers, most of the rest are stay at home wives/mothers.  Those that do work, work at the mall or something.  I’m lucky enough that he is financially secure enough that I don’t have to take a crappy job just to make ends meet – I can volunteer or find something in my field that isn’t maybe a career, but something I really want to do, even part time.  Adjunt professor is always a possibility for me, thanks for the reminder.  🙂

I guess my point is, my greatest fear was choosing between him and my career as well.  But once I realize that I didn’t want to run the world, just find something meaningful, it made the choise a lot easier.  And really, life kind of chose for me.  I can always find a job.  I wouldn’t be able to find another him.

Post # 16
Member
134 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Miss Hobbitt, I sympathize with you as well! I am a newlywed military wife, fresh out of college, so I don’t have much “real Army” experience yet, but I will share my situation with you.

I went through some of the same thoughts when I decided to marry my husband. Ultimately I decided that even if I had the most fulfilling career, my life wouldn’t be whole without a family to come back to – and that gave me the faith to choose marriage over certain freedoms in career choice. That said, my husband and I coordinated as we made choices about his first post and my post-grad path. I decided to go to law school, which for me is a blend of my genuine interests, skills, and a type of professional training that is in demand (as far as I know, on average). I applied to some schools I liked near posts, and with some hard work and some luck I got into a very good law school (well-matched with my interests and qualifications) that is about 1.5 hours driving from the post where he is headed next year, then I deferred a year to get used to marriage and live with him in his first training location (where we are now). When we get to the next place, we’ll live in between and hope to split the commutes somewhat evenly.

The most important thing to me is that while yes, my husband’s career dictates where we move, he has a lot of respect for my desires for more education and for a career. I’m almost positive that if it weren’t for me, he would have chosen a different post, but he chose the one he did because I got into that wonderful law school, where I’m giving up very little in quality compared to if I were on my own.

It’s tough for everyone, and each couple and individual has a different situation. I just have to say that I am glad to see some opinions above where posters think it is possible to have a career, even if it is harder and involves compromise. I’m not sure yet if my husband is a lifer, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to make that decision (along with preferences for subsequent posts) together, with what is best for our future family and my professional happiness, under the circumstances, and that was all I needed to know when we decided to get married. And I also feel empowered to stay at home with our kids, when we have them, when they’re little, if that’s what works best for me and for us – and I appreciate that freedom. Bottom line, I know my law degree will fulfill me, and I can’t wait to start on a new intellectual project – especially since he will probably deploy for the first time in those three years. I really do hope that it leads to a fulfilling career later on, but I’m not thinking very much beyond the next four years, just trying to have faith that things will work out in the future like they have so far!

Best of luck to you, sorry for blabbing on so much!

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