'As well as limitations on active employment choices, some spouses described the sacrifices they were required to make regarding employment or education because of the restrictions encountered through their contact with the military.

'When speaking about these concessions, some women expressed feelings of resentment, frustration and unrealised potential.

'As with tensions between the roles of employee and mother, discussions of unrealised potential in this sample were dominated by the spouses of officer personnel; this appeared to be related to motivations for work or education, with these participants the most eager to maintain or build a career:

"… there is no career. It is about getting bits and bobs of jobs that I can get … on a good day I kind of accept that for being in the military and a military wife and on a bad day it, it’s more difficult to swallow … it does feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth having [a job] that effectively I could have done ten years ago … it just feels that you’ve sacrificed … an awful lot … "

'(Joan, 40s, officer, Army)

"… Very frustrated at times. Very frustrated, feeling like the inner flexibility, if you know what I mean, with the Army and where he could be posted meant that I couldn’t achieve something for me. And at that time it meant a lot to me."

'(Kim, 40s, officer, Army)

'The concessions spouses made to their employment also had consequences for their financial situations. Some spouses described how limitations to their employment compromised their financial independence and necessitated their reliance on their husbands for money during times of unemployment.

'For some, this was a minor issue that was resolved once they found work but others reported how prolonged unemployment and the resulting loss of access to money they had earned themselves was important not just for a sense of achievement but for maintaining a sense of independence:

"I like to go and make my own money. I don’t like to rely on people … [I worked] so that I could … I’d just have my bit of money. It was mine that I’d earnt and just to have something for myself really. I didn’t really have anything for myself."

'(Mary, 30s, NCO, Army, transitioned)'


‘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