Spouse calls: Husbands face a different world
April 5, 2009
I have been a spouse for almost 18 years. I read with great interest your column this last Sunday. I would like to offer my two cents.
You claim, and rightfully so, that women have a history of fighting unfair standards thrown upon them from society. I agree totally. However, the military (Air Force in our case) is a different type of society.
Our first assignment was in Florida. My wife’s squadron had a "ladies club." They did away with the spouses club the year before we got there.
Our second assignment was at a NATO base in Germany. They had an international wives’ club. Male spouses were not welcome because of the foreign presence and their wishes to remain women only.
Our next assignment was stateside. They did have a spouses club that I tried to enjoy. I was the only male. After my first, and last, night of bunko I heard that one of the other spouses complained because she felt she could not "let her hair down" with her girlfriends. I did not attend too many functions after that.
I have stayed pretty much away from the spouses clubs after that, just taking part in a few squadron-level activities.
At our current assignment, I was actually "accidentally" dropped from the spouses e-mail list. I chose not to go back on it.
After all of that, I have tried and tried to fit in with the male members of my wife’s units. I have had a little success in this area, as long as I can play whatever sport in which they need another player for their teams. But other than that, I am an outsider.
Not to mention that our wives are in a profession where 88 percent of the members are male. At every single assignment there has been at least one jerk who thought he could take better care of my wife than I.
I have been called "Mrs. Decker" in numerous situations, even at a dining out. A good sense of humor has gotten me through that part.
A different society indeed, and in my opinion one that still has issues accepting male spouses.
Sorry to ramble, but this has been on my mind for a long time.
— Morris Decker, Germany
Thank you very much for your letter. I appreciate your perspective on the struggles of men married to the military. Your comments serve to make us all more aware of words and attitudes that are not welcoming to military husbands.
We in the military community should offer military husbands the same level of respect afforded to career military women.
It is unfortunate that you’ve had a string of negative experiences with spouse organizations and thoughtless individuals — those who make rude comments and those who repeat them — but please don’t dismiss the whole group based on the lowest comment from the lowest common denominator.
I hope these experiences will not keep you from connecting with other groups. Opportunities for involvement are abundant for military spouses, even if the spouses club just doesn’t work for you. Volunteers are usually welcome at the family center, chapel and schools. Book clubs, bowling and other sports leagues offer connections, too.
Of course, many military spouses also have their own careers, friends and connections. Friendship is essential, whether you find it in the military or the civilian sphere, or both.
I’m glad that Spouse Calls can provide an opportunity for you to speak your mind, Morris. I think others will appreciate and benefit from your point of view.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives in Germany and writes Spouse Calls weekly for Stars and Stripes Contact her at email@example.com and see the Spouse Calls blog athttp://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.