Slate recently profiled a military family as a part of its career series Best Laid Plans. The article followed the unpredictable journey of an Air Force major, a software engineer-turned-stay-at-home dad, and their two young kids.
After a decade of service, Shana—an Air Force mom with a civilian husband—described her career expectations this way:
Being in the military, I found I would make plans, and every time I would say, “I want to go to this place, or do this, or go here,” something would change. I would get a totally different job than I asked for, or life would change, and I realized I couldn’t really plan for anything.
The everyday rhythms of military marriage rarely get portrayed in the media. (Instead, it’s often the heavy patriotism of star-spangled holidays or emotional drama of surprise homecomings.) Shana’s remarks sum up a real-life struggle for military families: With constant cycles of moves, deployments, trainings, and schools, they can’t really plan for anything.
Her family makeup is unusual. Men rarely give up career stability to marry women in the military. Consider these stats from Pew Research: The military makes up less than 1 percent of the US population, and women comprise about 15 percent of the force. Female service members are less likely than their male counterparts to marry, and if they do, nearly half of them marry someone else in the military.
Though civilian women are more likely than men to make the sacrifice of marrying someone in the service (95 percent of military spouses are female), it’s still a frustrating arrangement at times. For most couples, marriage means “settling down.” In the military, it almost inevitably ...1
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