Spouse Calls: Helping spouses pursue happiness
Stars and Stripes June 24, 2007
This week, the questions are mine. The answers are from Kathie Hightower, author, speaker and a military spouse for 28 years. She and co-author Holly Scherer, a 22-year veteran spouse, wrote “Help! I’m a Military Spouse I Get a Life Too!” (Second edition, March 2007 Potomac Books.)
Kathie and Holly met as fellow military spouses in 1991. They have been writing, speaking and traveling together since 1993, presenting workshops for military spouses throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. Their book covers friends, faith, family, goals, careers and even joy — with emphasis on the positive side of military life — in less than 200 pages.
Kathie’s travels brought her to Germany recently, and I caught up with her at a book-signing at the Ramstein Air Base exchange. As we sat and talked, spouses and other shoppers stopped at Kathie’s table to ask about the book.
“We looked at all the research on what makes people happy in life,” she explained to one woman. “Then we interviewed hundreds of military spouses of all services to find out how to apply that research to a military life.”
“Oh, I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” said the shopper.
To be honest, having passed the 20-year mark myself, as I later told Kathie, I was not attracted by the title: “Help! I’m a Military Spouse.” It sounds so … desperate, something we independent military types try to avoid.
Kathie said she and Holly wrote the book to inform spouses who don’t know what their resources are, veterans as well as newcomers.
“We hope to reach them before they give up on this life and get divorced or convince their spouse to get out simply because they can’t make it work,” Kathie explained.
“We’ve had many spouses say (about the title), ‘That’s just what I’ve been thinking, only no one else says it.’”
I read the book and found that it does speak to the spectrum of military spouses — the desperate, the content, and the resigned. It encourages spouses not to wait for the “perfect” assignment or military retirement to pursue their own dreams.
Kathie said that it’s especially important for military spouses to have a goal and make plans to achieve it. Otherwise, she said, spouses are cut off from their potential.
“In our fluid lifestyle, there is so much more that is out of our control and constant change that is out of our control. We have to be amazingly creative to see the possibilities,” she said.
Examples from the lives of military spouses illustrate the book’s emphasis on finding fulfillment in — not in spite of — the military lifestyle. The authors also list many other books and resources by and for military spouses.
One resource covered in the book is friendship. The authors encourage friendships inside and outside the front gate. “People outside the military need to know what military spouses are like,” Kathie said “to know their diversity and their strength.”
“All we are about is helping spouses who are out there trying to make this military life work,” she said, “to share ideas, tools and resources to help them do just that.”
For more about Kathie and Holly, their book, workshops and other projects see their Web site: www.militaryspousehelp.com