'Spouses in professional careers (also typically the spouses of officers) described how they were intent on working during accompanied postings because of the meaning it provided them with in (re-)establishing an identity separate to that of military wife or mother.

'Yet, they experienced difficulties planning or progressing their careers because of the frequency and duration of accompanied postings.

'Spouses who were not in professional careers reported how they were motivated to work by the sense of purpose, self-confidence and affirmation of value they obtained, which corresponds to the commonly cited reasons for working among US spouses (Castaneda and Harrell, 2008; Maury and Stone, 2014; Peterson, 2002).

'For both groups of spouses, the centrality of employment to their identity construction (Bothma et al., 2015) was difficult for them to balance against the compromises and sacrifices they felt they required as ‘good’ military wives (Enloe, 2000).

'As this study suggests, spouses for whom employment is important for either status or identity but who are unable to obtain appropriate employment may be at higher risk of poor outcomes such as low self-esteem and psychological distress (Sowislo and Ulrich, 2013).

'Spouses with professional careers described how unemployment or employment that they felt under-utilised their skills and experience contributed to a perceived loss of social status both within their communities and their relationship.

'This sense of a loss of status due to a suspended or halted career has also described by spouses on overseas postings (Blakely et al., 2014b; Jervis, 2011) and spouses within expatriate communities (Cieri et al., 1991).

'The sense of financial independence that spouses, both in professional and non-professional occupations, gained from employment was described as another loss related to accompanied postings.

'This loss was not related to money per se but to the sense of achievement and pride spouses gained from earning their own money and contributing to their family. Adjusting to the loss of their income, which represented independence to some spouses, was difficult for these women (Enloe, 2016; Harrison and Laliberte, 1994; Horn, 2010).'


‘It’s nice to just be you’: The influence of the employment experiences of UK military spouses during accompanied postings on well-being.

Rachael Gribble, Laura Goodwin, Sian Oram, Nicola T Fear

April 1, 2019