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Q. I have a question about something. Why is it that whenever military spouses are mentioned, it is automatically assumed that they are female?

I happen to be a military spouse, as are a lot of other males I know, but whenever you see a magazine cover or an article about a spouse, it is always a female featured on the cover.

We, as males, face the same hardships and challenges as the females when it comes to being a spouse.

I would even venture to say it may be slightly harder for us, because most female spouses I know are stay-at-home moms and focus fully on the household. There is nothing wrong with that, but because males are automatically labeled as head of the household, we would be looked down on if we stayed home while our spouses worked. Even though we would be doing exactly what the female spouses are doing, we would be looked at as being lazy or bad husbands or sorry fathers.

Plenty of times I have stayed back while my wife was TDY or on a hardship to Korea, Honduras, etc. I have also had to take on the mother and father roles in my household for my babies. I’ve had to cook, clean, babysit, provide recreation as well as maintain a full-time job while my wife was away.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from the female spouses, because I know exactly what they go through, I am just saying that there are also males out here that make the same sacrifices.

It is funny how society thinks. I always get strange looks when I say I am a military dependent. Whenever we conduct business and someone sees U.S. Army they automatically assume I am the soldier.

My wife has been in the Army for almost 21 years. I am very proud of her, and I support her fully. I guess in all what I am saying is I would like to see the male spouses recognized more often because we are out here dealing with the same issues as the females. Thank you for your time.

— Tony

A. One reason military spouses are often assumed to be wives is that more than 90 percent of us are. The Department of Defense estimates that 6 or 7 percent of all military spouses are men.

For that reason, I’m glad to hear from a military husband. Although men are in the minority in this particular group, your contributions should be recognized and your needs considered.

I would like to hear from more readers about the support military husbands and fathers find helpful. Are spouse groups and family-oriented resources geared only to the needs of women, leaving men without a support network? How can military spouses of both genders make helpful changes?

Regarding your letter, Tony, some women might dispute your claim to having a harder role because of society’s expectations. After all, women have a history of fighting those standards also.

The pressures society exerts may not always reinforce what we know are good choices. We all have to make healthy choices for our families based on our own convictions, not the status quo.

Whatever we choose, military spouses — men and women — will benefit from one another’s support and encouragement.

You’ll find links to information for military husbands and stay-at-home dads on the Spouse Calls blog. Since I received this letter, I’ve been seeking out and talking to other military husbands about their experiences. Read about them in next week’s Spouse Calls column.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http:/blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

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