You've read those blog posts and heard/overheard those conversations, right? The ones where the spouse of the soldier (etc.) bravely and calmly says that her husband's career choices in the military really are just up to him since it is HIS career after all. Please tell me you have (though if you haven't just search around the blog-o-sphere, you'll find them, I don't want to post links as I don't want to hurt anyone's feelers)... because I need to suss some things out in regards to this topic.
First, I get it. I mean, I understand the whole mentality of not putting your foot down and DEMANDING that your spouse ETS or Retire or switch MOS, because generally demands don't play so nice with marriages. And I'd be willing to bet that around 90% of us knew we were marrying the military type, so there is a certain amount of latitude that must be given. I get that. I really do. There is a part of you that feels incredibly selfish and demanding and not all that wonderful when you start to think about putting in your 2 cents (or 5 dollars) when it comes to these topics.
Second, I sort of understand the parallels I see some spouses trying to make between their civilian career and his. You know, the whole I wouldn't want him telling me what jobs to take and not to take or when to move or quit, so I shouldn't do it to him. Because, on some level that is totally spot on. I wouldn't want Swiss demanding or telling me in no uncertain terms what I could and could not do with my career, to turn down opportunities or a big promotion for whatever reason. I am an independent lady after all, with a strong will to boot. I think we can all imagine how well that would go over, right? So it is, on the surface of things, understandable to draw the same conclusions about your say and his career.
However... for me, that parallel doesn't really work unless your civilian job is that of a Blackwater contractor or maybe a MD with Doctors Without Borders (or you are in the military yourself). Because my job as a cytotechnologist or teacher or nurse or advertising executive generally only comes with ancillary requirements like occasional overtime or working weekends, maybe a pay cut or the rare travel to some safe garden spot for a short conference. No job I've ever had put my life in jeopardy, sent me away from home for a year or more every 15 moths or so or left my family to deal with the very real possibility of me not coming home- ever. And no job I've ever had came with contracts that couldn't be broken or guaranteed moves every few years under penalty of jail time. And last I checked, most civilian jobs can or could be left at the office so to speak. None of those things can be said for a job in the military. Not a one.
Also, isn't all we ever talk about how this career our spouses choose is really a lifestyle for the whole family, sacrifices and bonuses and all? So how does this whole Hands Off! mentality when it comes to his career jibe with our general thesis on military life? How can we, on one hand say that these deployments effect us all, but on the other say that decisions regarding the career that causes these deployments is no place for my opinion?
I guess my questions/issues on this topic arise because when it came time for Swiss to PCS the last time, when talks of retirement or staying in started to surface, it was a family decision. We talked about it together. I made me feelings and opinions known, politely of course, but Swiss always knew what my feelings on these topics were. We, as a family, talked about the benefits and cons of each of the duty stations and the job assignments and expectations that would come with each place (you know, light infantry versus mechanized units, 1SGT time or staff duty, etc.). We talked about wether or not this was the right time to retire, what the benefits would be to staying in and what impact that would have on our lives, my career, his career and all that jazz. At the end of the day, we made decisions based on what was best for our family. If Swiss was single, he'd probably stay in for another 3-6 years, but those extra deployments and PCSs just weren't what made sense for us.
Now, with all that said, I really do want to open up a dialogue about this topic even though I haven't shielded my views even a smidge (hey, I'm just being honest!). How do you feel about this? How much input do you give (or are allowed) on your spouse's military career? Where is the line between being selfish and doing what is best for your family? How have you and your spouses dealt with these issues in the past? And are you a subscriber to the "Its his career" mentality? If so, why?
Okay Ladies, have at it in the comments! Just play nice with each other, okay?