The Stay-at-Home Wife

wifepic

Hi, I have a confession to make: I’m a 27-year-old stay-at-home wife. Yes, I said wife and not mom—as of right now we don’t have any kiddos. Don’t get me wrong, we want children very badly, but not at this very moment. I feel like a stay-at-home moms in a military lifestyle are understood by the outside world, but there’s a different stigma when you don’t have that typical day-job and you don’t have kids yet.

After college, and during the three years I dated my husband (then boyfriend) I worked full time, at one point had two jobs, and lived with my parents. I saved every single penny I had to pay for airfare so I could see him as often as possible (usually only every two to three months). Those plane tickets from New Mexico to Georgia were equivalent to a rent payment every month. In fact, several times it would have been cheaper for me to fly to Europe than pay what I was paying for my tickets across the country. I took red-eye flights and sometimes spent more time on airplanes and in airports than actual time together. But we did it, because when you’re in a long distance relationship you do everything in your power to see each other as often as possible, even if it’s only a few weeks each year. So once we got married, I decided to make my husband and our relationship my number one priority.

After getting married and moving, I decided to put my career on hold and not get a typical 9-5 job. I have a consistent freelance writing job on the side that brings in some income, but for the most part I stay pretty busy during the day. These days I’m busy with PCS plans and keeping the house “show ready” so we can try selling it—that’s a full time job right there!

A lot of the civilian friends I grew up with back home don’t really understand my life now, but I think my military friends get it. I don’t think they understand how a college graduate, who once had a career she loved, could stop working and become a stay-at-home wife. But after years of separation before we were married, and continuous absences several months each year, I want as much time with him as possible.

Deployments and TDYs are the norm for us; I don’t have the luxury of getting to see my husband for holidays and celebrations, so weekends and days when he comes home at a reasonable hour are precious moments that we really treasure. I didn’t want to have a job keeping me from seeing him. The thought of having to ask for time off and having an employer decline my request was a terrifying thought; I didn’t want to have to choose between getting fired and seeing my husband. Now, I enjoy having the ability to hop on a plane and go visit him for a weekend when he’s TDY (on our own dime, of course) and being able to spend those few days before and after deployments together.

I know dozens of military wives and moms who have careers, and not only do I think that’s amazing, but I applaud them. I’m fortunate that I when opportunities present themselves I can work from home, so I hope you know that I am in no way degrading those who do work. This is just something that works for us.

I’m incredibly lucky that I’m at a point in my life where I can do what I love from anywhere in the world. I love making my own schedule and working when inspiration strikes. Because I stay at home during the day, my husband and I can go on frequent lunch dates (making up for those countless “date nights” we had over Skype) and I’m branching out and expanding my hobbies of cooking and photography. I’m hoping that when we move to Italy I’ll be able to venture into travel writing and photography and possibly volunteer on base. I say all of this, because when I tell people that I’m a stay-at-home wife I get the impression that people think I sit at home twiddling my thumbs all day, but it’s far from that!

What about you? I’m very curious how others view stay-at-home military wives. Are you one? Were you one?

About the Author

Jessica Lynn

Two years ago, Jessica Lynn married her Air Force husband and moved from her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to join him across the country in Georgia. If getting married and embarking on the life of an Air Force wife wasn't enough of an adventure, they recently traded in their Georgia peaches and for pasta and wine when her husband got orders to Northern Italy.

No longer a PCS virgin, Jessica is already gearing up for her second PCS in two years. When she's not twiddling her thumbs waiting for more answers about their upcoming move, you can find her learning Italian so she can have a conversation with her 90-year-old neighbor, traveling as much as time and money will allow, hanging out with her husband and puppy, and blogging about her OCONUS adventures at Jessica Lynn Writes.

  • Wifey

    I’ve had no choice but to be one the last year but I am trying to find a job. We’ve moved twice in the last year and I’ve been busy the whole time either unpacking, packing or doing stuff around the house. Of course, there was a 2 month stint where I was doing Navy work.

    I see no problem with being a SAHW as long as both husband and wife are happy with this. Besides, it is no one else’s business but theirs!

  • My mother is one, and I often wish I were one as well. I feel I’d be a much happier person overall if I could devote my time to creative outlets as well as keeping our home nice and taking care of other tasks. Alas, I also like having the extra money…so I keep my job… at least for now. But I am definitely respectful of anyone’s choice to work or not to work–and envious of your working from home as well! ;)

  • I wouldn’t feel bad for ONE SECOND if I were you. Your circumstances are unique to you and your husband, and you guys knows what’s best for you. So don’t let anyone out there judge you and make you feel bad about your decisions.

    • Chelsea Press

      So I am recently married into the military and I was wondering if anyone had any advice on being alone while the husband is gone 7 months to boot camp and A school. We have never been apart. I have the book Married in the Military its a coping book and it helps was needing wisdom from the wives.

  • I’m one! When Chris and I got married, we decided that it was more important that we be able to spend our first few years of marriage together and I turned down a job offer to follow him to Georgia. I’m getting ready to start working again, but I don’t regret our initial decision AT ALL. You can always go back to work, but you can’t get back the time you lost. And I totally agree with Wifey – as long as you and your husband are ok with it, it’s no one else’s business!

  • Another SAHW chiming in! I have my moments of feeling down about (what I fear others perceive as) my “wasted potential,” especially when I think about some of my highly motivated and career-oriented high school and college classmates. I think it’s natural to contemplate those might-have-beens from time to time, and upon further analysis, I love having the flexibility to volunteer — especially the part where I can say “No!” to obligations that would keep me from spending time with my husband during gaps in his whacked-out schedule. I believe I would be far less content in a situation where both my husband and myself had incontrovertible work obligations. The military provides quite enough of those for us.

  • I like what you wrote, Jessica! I wish my mom and friends back home could read this, as it mirrors my experience somewhat. I dated my husband 2 years long distance before we married, and so after graduation and moving, I did try to find a job, but it’s hard! I realize now what others think doesn’t matter. I found something super-part time for now, but I envy your ability to find freelance writing. I just work with kiddos at a church and babysit occasionally, which isn’t all bad. I get to spend time with my husband which I wouldn’t get to if I worked full-time. My husband’s schedule can be unpredictable, so it’s nice to spend time together rather than worry about a job. I have begun volunteering along with working somewhat at the church, but I still see him more than I would if I were doing the “normal” 9 to 5. :)

    Thanks for writing this! It’s definitely an important topic many military spouses must face and that most civilians looking from the outside don’t understand.

  • Donna Reinhart

    DO NOT let anyone make you feel inferior for being an at home wife. It’s a full time job. You’re blessed that you can do it. I was a military wife (after the fact) and i’m a military mom. A Navy daughter, Army niece, etc. I wish i’d more time w/my husband before he died. Enjoy your time!

  • I’m a 26-year-old stay-at-home military wife as well. I’ve been working as a freelance writer & author for over 6 years – I started while I was dating my now-husband. He joined the Marine Corps a year ago & I am overjoyed that I am able to work AND be an active part of his military life at the same time. We plan to have a kid in 2-3 years & that will be an amazing adventure, but so is our life right now :)

  • Good for you! I wrote something similar to this before I had kids because I felt like I was being attacked for my husband’s and my choice for me to be a SAH-Wife. You have to do what is right for you. I consider(ed) it a blessing to be able to be a SAH-wife and now mom!

  • Cat

    I’m a SAHW too! It definitely turned some heads when I quit my full-time job 2 months after we got married, and I didn’t have any PCS/moving reason (I hated my job, so it worked out for me). The biggest head I turned was my own mother’s, a career woman all her life. I’ve met many other amazing SAHWs through volunteering on base. Personally, I’m still on a constant emotional rollercoaster because of it (and often feel I was born 100 years too late), since I just haven’t figured out what kind of career I actually want. We’re ready for kids; it just hasn’t happened yet. But I think I’ve helped my mom see the value in choosing a different path. Thank you for writing this–it has helped me be a bit more at ease with my lifestyle.

  • AGW

    Kudos to you! Do not worry about what anyone else thinks. If it works for you & your husband that is all that should matter. Many blessings to you two. (And to all the other SAHW’s & SAHM’s)

  • donewentnuts

    I have never been in your particular shoes, but I have been a reluctant SAHM.

    I only recently came to terms with my situation. So yeah..after nearly 8 years as a SAHM, I decided to accept it for the time being. :) In spite of the fact that any job I held would not pay enough to cover daycare for the little one while still bringing in enough to make a dent in our finances, and I have a special needs child with frequent appointments, I do get some flack for staying home. The flack gets worse when our financial situation gets worse.

    Anyway. Long story short: There is always someone who will find something negative about your choices. If the choice is right for you and your family then..well it is none of their business in the first place.

    To me there is nothing wrong with being a SAHW. I think what you’re doing and the way you have chosen to embrace it is awesome. :)

  • Kellee

    No matter what you do, someone will have something to say…just live your life how you want to. By the way I am a fellow New Mexican…..where are you from? We (my husband and I) are from a small town on the East side of the state. We both went to UNM!

    • How fantastic! We are both from Albuquerque, but I have family south of ‘Burque, too. I went to NMSU :) I love how New Mexicans stick together; I hope you’re finding some green chile wherever you are!

  • Kellee

    When were you at NMSU…my Nephew Derek Burns graduated in 2005 or 06? We live at Fort Drum NY…so we have to bring green Chile back every time we visit. Found your blog…love the picture of the city!

    • That’s when I was there—graduated in 06, but I don’t think his name sounds familiar. We have a freezer full of chile here in Georgia, too :)

  • Sonja

    Don’t feel bad. Enjoy the time you have to go with your husband when you can. When I married my husband at the ripe old age of 30, I had a good career and was feeling like I could transfer it where ever we landed. However, we landed at a remote base in Alaska. I looked for a job for a long time, went through feeling like I was not contributing to my family or society. Once I got over that I learned to relax and enjoy my time there. I also met lots of other women who had decided to do the same and we became lifelong friends having a riotous amount of good fun while stationed there.

  • Jacqueline_87

    Thank you! Seriously, I was beginning to think I was the only (intentionally) stay at home wife out there. We got married almost immediately after our college graduation and I tried *hard* to find a job near our post. After 3 months of trying I realized, “how on Earth will I manage this house/our finances/all the errands if I am working full time?” I felt pretty guilty and embarrassed for a while. Friends and family would (and still do) ask what I’m doing and where I’m working. Though it still flusters me to be asked, I have come to accept that they may never understand. The Army life is much different than civilian life. Unlike civilian life, my partner works consistent 12 hour shifts, 5-6 days a week. When can he balance our checkbook or cut coupons for commissary runs? Additionally, he will be leaving for a year’s deployment in no time. I’m reconciled in my heart and head that my time is better spent here, investing in my marriage and being the logistical manager of my household. Perhaps it’s anti-feminist, but I’m willing to accept that, lol.

  • I am a stay at home wife. It was terribly hard thing for me to adjust to. I’m so used to working full time and going to grad school before I moved to the south to live with my husband (then fiance). It has been extremely hard for me to find a job and right now I’m at the point where I feel bad even trying for anything permanent since we have a move coming up in a few months. Yes I am thankful that we are able to have a one income family and be perfectly ok but I do wish I had a 9-5 job. I will admit that the whole stay at home wife role has not come easy to me. It still hasn’t one year into it. I’m fumbling my way through it the best I know how. I hate how people, even family, judge SAHW’s for our current position.

  • MRS HOOAH

    I graduated college last May and my husband was set to deploy in August. Instead of spending hours upon hours of my day looking for career possibilities on top of interviews and possibly starting a new job, I took some time off and prepared for his deployment, a big move across the state, and well… just spent time with my guy. I wouldn’t give those months up for the world. I think if I would’ve been working, I would’ve regretted it.

  • I’m also a stay at home wife. When we were first in Colorado, I HAD to have a job because we were still trying to sell our house. When we moved to New York, I stayed at home because he deployed within a year of us getting here. Now that he is back from deployment, we have PCS orders. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I really love staying at home. It is something that I’m going to talk to my husband about when we move. Thanks for the post! I feel the same way!

  • Reading your post and all these comments makes me feel so much better about being a SAHW!! I haven’t held a job for well over a year now. I can honestly say that I don’t care if I ever hold a job again. With things being the way they are with the Army

  • Subhunter90

    I think that’s great. A smart man wants a happy, available wife. And you are a smart wife, making that a priority. Good for both of you!

  • Anni

    Jess, I’m probably biased because I know what an awesome person you are (tell people about Operation Layla if they give you crap, okay?) but I can’t imagine anyone being down on you for this. Anyone being stay-at-home in our relationship just won’t work because we are B-R-O-K-E and I would not stop shooting for anything right now, but I’m so sick of people thinking that just because something’s not right for them, it’s wrong. Good for you for putting this out there.

  • fightnwo2010

    Remind people of this, when you drive TWO cars, it cost double if not triple in gas, everything is double the cost, so actually if he makes ok money, then the cost might be a little less in the long run. Eeeh just a thought. My hubby has been in almost 20 yrs soon to retire. I’m going to miss the military life and his job i’m again glad I stayed home the entire time. I can’t help but say it again. Who cares what society thinks you do what you want to do where your hubby is concerned. I have everything I’ve ever wanted , couldn’t want for more and that’s just on the hubby’s pay so we make it just fine. We don’t rent we own, we have enough to do things, go places, we have four pets those are our kids LOL.. Youll be fine I think stayin at home and maybe working is the best deal, plus u save on gas LOL.

  • I’m a new stay-at-home wife. I was a former Army Officer and decided to get out. One of the MAJOR reasons I got out was because my husband (then boyfriend/fiance) was in the Army and we were in a long distance relationship for a long time. I, like you, am afraid of being trapped in a job and unable to spend time with him when he has that time available. I am doing some freelance/contract work and I’m excited at the prospect of opening a business from home. The best of luck to you! I completely understand.

  • Sarah

    I was a stay-at-home wife for the first 8 years of our marriage. Well, I had various small jobs: a few hours homeschooling an elementary schooler, a knitting teacher, a sub-contractor at ACS, etc. And one year I had a “real” job. But mostly I was at home. I too could “blame” living in five duty stations in five years, but really, I just don’t have career ambitions. And now that I have a one year old, I feel less bad…but others are right, it’s really nobody’s business!

    I used to like to jokingly call myself a trophy wife! (It’s funny because I don’t wear make-up and spend most of my time in sweatpants.)

  • mike

    A Beautiful Song speaking of the sacrifice of our U.S. Military Families. Check out the new single “Timberline” by Summertown and the video here:

  • Independant in LA

    All I ever hear from Military spouses are excuses for not using the FREE education given to them. Now that is lazyt! Why is it that these spouses think that once they marry a military man it’s all his responsability to take care of the family. That’s so wrong to do this to them, especially when they are the ones fighting for our country…not them. When people say to support our troops… spouses they’re talking to you.. GO TO WORK!

  • russell

    I am A sahd DAD.

  • Wow, I’m sorry, but really?

    Not only is education not relevant here, but how about FREE education isn’t available for ALL spouses. I have no problem going to work, but my husband wants me at home. It is a HUGE shift for almost all of us who do leave our careers to support our troops. Working 40+ hour weeks in the medical field and being a wife was draining on both of us. Looking for a job every two years? It’s draining. If your husband makes enough money for you to support him emotionally, mentally, and by putting the food on the table that his money buys, then so be it. Take your rudeness somewhere else.

  • Megan

    I’m an stay at home wife in addition to being an artist and I’ve gotten a lot of flack for not working outside the home since we don’t have children (yet), but DH has always been so supportive, which is helpful especially when he was the only one! So for now I am a stay at home Megan ;)

  • SAHAFW

    I feel like I wrote this myself! I am even going to Italy in 10 months. See you there :)

    • That’s so great! I would love to know where in Italy you’re going if you don’t mind sharing! We’ll be out there in a bout three months :)

  • Curtis

    Most stay at home wives are lazy and are nothing but drama queens. Always in other people’s business with plenty of gossup. (especially in base housing) Stop all the complaining about nothing and get a job. Military families always complaining about not having enough money yet wives are sitting at home doing nothing. Nobody is burned out from washing a few dishes everyday and making a couple beds.

  • Elizabeth

    i went right into a job b/c i felt i had too. now after 2 years i’m finally quitting. but we also have an unplanned 9 month old to take care of now. i’m fortunate that my husband has always been supportive. but saturday that i went to work and he was home killed me. i think if you can make it work so that you dont have to work and can be available to your husband, you should. they need all the support they can get from us.

  • Carmen

    I am so glad I read this. My hubby and I met in the military and got married. It was so draining to be dual military that it was negatively affecting our our marriage from the start. When given the chance to separate at my 9.5 yr mark I jumped at the chance. I had a great position as a military instructor and could have done well if I continued but I wanted to focus on my marriage and complete my degree. I had every intention of starting a business when I was done with school but desire for that began to disappear. I am a stay at home mom now (after being a SAHW for 5 years) and I still have people wondering what I do all day. I find myself somehow explaining why I wasted my degree and why I am not putting it to use with a “real job”. I love taking care of my military man and seeing my daughter grow and learn as she reaches 18 months. I am thankful that I listened to my heart and not the voices that tried to guilt trip me into following another path. Thanks for your post and all of the positive comments. I don’t get this very often:-)

  • michelle bayley

    Hello, I have mostly worked as a wife, despite having 6 kids. I am a nurse and have a civil service career I hope to retire from. i wont lie, it would be great to stay at home more, but our circumstances require a second income, and it also completes the person that I am. I try to work creative schedules to max my time with the kids and husband when I can. I had a large family and together my husband and I support them. We also get to have a few nice extras we wouldnt have otherwise(a retirement home in Kerry Ireland and lots of fun trips). I think its an individual choice for everyone.

  • McCarthyMama

    We work so hard now and pass like ships in the night, that when this change in life occurs, I want to be at home, cooking for my family, cleaning my home, having the time to put towards my creative outlets, which have fallen by the wayside for years now. I think it sounds wonderful to be able to care for my family and build a foundation wherever and whenever we go over the years. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and those of everyone else. I’ve read all the posts and everyone here has a unique and diverse background. This proves the point that not all SAHW/M are thumb twiddling soap opera die-hards. Any further comments, thoughts and advise on the military life are greatly appreciated! Thanks Y’all :)

  • Kim

    whoops, i mean *soon-to-be-SAWH ^^

  • anna

    my husband has worked “offshore for months at a time. After working and raising children during that time, I am staying home now after 16 years. When he was home, I was at work. People always make comments that make me feel “less than.” My husband and I’s relationship is different than some today. Our money is together, and we share all work. I don’t sit around and do nothing. I try to supplement money by sewing and making other things, I am going to be going back to work on my bachelor’s degree soon. So why do I let people make me feel guilty?

  • Natalia

    hey! I’m not a military wife, but am a partial SAHW working part time, I enjoy the lifestyle, and hope you do as well.

  • Julia

    We live in a very feminist society and that is great, but the whole point of that movement was to give women the choice to stay home or have a career. This is your choice and it’s what makes your relationship work that’s important. I’ve been with my husband for 4 years and we’ve been physically separated more than we’ve been together (as I’m sure is the case with most of us military spouses). I work odd jobs when he’s away, but when he’s home…all I want to do is spend every possible minute with him. I don’t feel bad about this decision, but I do at times feel the pressure by society and comparing myself to other successful women in my life. And that’s the problem right there…what makes us an individual is not by having a successful career or “our own money.” It’s by living our life the way we see fit and not caring what others think.

  • stayathomewifeandwriter

    I’m a Navy wife as well, and I stay at home even though I do not have children. I’ve begun blogging about it here: http://stayathomewifeandwriter.blogspot.com/ Do you know of any other blogs for stay at home wives? We are an ostracized group and it is unfair!

  • Michele

    I’m a stay home spouse as well and I love it. We were in Germany, now @ West Point . Enjoy! …..

  • SuziGuest

    I actually posted this on another blog/poll, then I saw this blog. It’s been interesting reading others posts. My situation is a little different and wondered if there are others like me. I worked full time for over 16 years, raised my stepson and furkids (numbers vary) through nine deployments, various leadership schools, training schools and TDYs on my own without outside help. I was bound and determined to make it work being in charge of all aspects of the “homestead.” After my stepson joined the military, and my husband came back from a 365 tour, I was beat and needed a break. I am so thankful that we were in the position that I could take some time off and really focus on me, my husband, furkids (three seniors and on young adult) and home life. It have been a blessing. I do miss work and interacting with co-workers, but I still get the same satisfaction of being productive at home as I did at work. I know I made the right choice and very comfortable with it. :o)

  • Jess

    Huh. I paid for my own education, years and years before I ever even met my spouse. And my spouse was the one who broached the subject of my leaving my longtime career to be able to travel with him as needed for his career.