“Get a Job!”

Perhaps an often debated topic among military wives – to work, or not to work.  And why do we end up doing one or the other?

Tonight, this sensitive subject, for me, came up.  And, I can say, I did not handle a light-hearted joke as such.

When I arrived at my husband’s duty station, I had every intention of finding work – in my field of experience and expertise.  I was a Data Processing Supervisor, an administrative position, at my previous employer back home.  I highly enjoy this work, and wanted to continue within the same field.  I looked at the local schools – both public and college, doctors offices, and everywhere else, and there were very few availabilities.  And of those availabilities, there were very few that weren’t specific beyond my qualifications.  I applied for the few I was qualified for – not that I sold myself short by not trying the other jobs, but when I have no experience in either a specific field, or they want something else that I don’t have, I pretty much know the employer will go with someone who has that experience.  I managed to get one interview.  Which, did not get me the job.  But also, what restricts me from even applying to some of these jobs, is that they are looking for someone permanent, full time.  And when I can only guarantee them a year, down to months now, not many employers want to spend the time and money training someone, all so they can do it again in a short period of time.  So, counting my losses, I fell into the position of a housewife, a homemaker.

I don’t personally regret this decision.  With deployment coming up, and being a newlywed couple, it allowed me to have more time with my husband, and to be able to take care of him and help him when needed.  Sure, I could have applied for a job in sales at a local department store, or even at a restaurant.  But knowing I wouldn’t have my choice in schedule, and afraid that I couldn’t get a day shift, or have to work weekends, I didn’t want to take something that would take away all of my time with my husband.  And FORGET working with food, at all, even as a hostess or server.  I can’t do it.

On my Facebook page, I had posted a status about how I need a new computer, picked and customized one for just over $1000, and that I just need the money now to get it.  A friend, jokingly, posted the comment, “get a job.”  And I knew she meant nothing by it, but I couldn’t help but get defensive and upset about it.

Everything is OK with that now, but it got me to thinking.  WHY was I so mad about people telling me “get a job”?  Sure, my husband and I talk about it sometimes, how a second income would be nice.  But being that I am only here temporarily until deployment, getting the jobs I want is close to impossible, especially in this area.  And we both understand that, and have budgeted our money accordingly.  But what also got me defensive, and thinking, is that I feel like it’s assumed that military spouses don’t want to work.  The majority of wives I’ve met here are homemakers, or housewives furthering their education on top of taking care of their husband and children.  But I feel like, because we DON’T have children, and I have an undergraduate degree, I’m held to a different standard.  That I’m perceived as “lazy” because I am not working.

I know it’s not true for everyone, that not everyone would call me lazy, but perhaps those who don’t know, are more likely to assume such things.  And not just about me, but all military spouses who are unemployed.

Such is not the case for me.  I am not “lazy.”  Sure, I may have a day where I’m unmotivated, but I don’t spend every day doing nothing productive.  I certainly do not shrink my responsibilities.  I do all of our shopping – errands, groceries.  I clean the apartment and make sure it stays as such.  I keep up on all of our laundry.  I make sure all of our bills are paid on time.  I make home-cooked meals (almost always all from scratch), every night.  I take care of anything my husband asks me to do that will help him – looking things up, booking appointments, etc.  I’m not putting everything off on my husband to do, and to take care of me.

Anyone who knows me the slightest bit AT ALL, would know that I HATE being taken care of.  I don’t like to feel like I’m handicapped and need people to do everything for me.  I’m an only child, and grew up being self-sufficient.  I rely on myself, and myself only.  This made the part of reliance, sharing, in marriage difficult for me – I wanted to do everything for myself, which ended up making my husband feel obsolete, like all he did was make the money, and nothing else.  So, I’m getting used to the idea of asking for help when I need it.  But I still would prefer to have my own job, be sufficient for myself, so I can make my own financial decisions, at least more so than just playing with my husband’s income, with no extra security of an income.  I’m not a mooch, I never have been, and I never intend to become one.

And I am working on taking my hobby (obsession) for photography to a more professional, business level – hoping to sell some prints, as well as eventually get into the business of taking portrait photos, and possibly working weddings and other events, in the future.

But I feel like this is another adversity that military wives, who either choose not to work, or have not been able to find work, face.  How do you handle this?  Have you ever been questioned for not working?  And the wives that do work, do you have any adversity for your choice, or need, to work?  I’d like to know if anyone else has ever dealt with this, on either side.

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8 thoughts on ““Get a Job!”

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  1. When we got married, people always asked my HUSBAND why I didn’t have one! It’s irritating to have people assume things about you because you DON’T have a job. At the time most people were asking, we had just gotten married and two weeks later found out we were pregnant with Nicholas. With my pregnancies being what they are, work was out of the question. They didn’t know that, but frankly why should they? And I already had Lexi, who still had special health concerns at the time. I am all for equality, but at the same time I don’t think a woman should be *expected* to work out of the home. If they want to then that’s awesome, but I see nothing wrong with ‘just’ being a housewife. What’s wrong with focusing on your family? Be it a husband and eight kids, or just your husband. The divorce rate would probably be a lot lower if more people did that. Nothing is more important to me than the happiness of the people I love the most, and I enjoy having no distractions to take me away from them. Even if sometimes I go stir crazy and wish I had a job outside the home (so I could have a BREAK! lol I don’t think some people realize how much work it is to ‘just’ stay home!)

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    1. I could not agree more. Damn the Women’s Rights Movement for making it an expectation to live life like men. Sure, the option and opportunity to do what we want is wonderful, but this expectation and pressure for actually doing it, for every woman to become something big, undermines the work of the rest of us, who aren’t doing this, actually do. There is NOTHING wrong with being a housewife or homemaker, parent or childless. And I don’t think that the women who have spent a lifetime working actually understand what it is that those of us who are staying home DO. Congratulations if you can balance it all, but I bet your stress level is a lot higher, and things that should be priority, are getting pushed to the back. I love that I am able to spend as much time as I want, as the Army allows, with my husband. It’s truly amazing to have this time, that we’ll otherwise never get back. I only hope that by the time we settle down to have our own children, I am able to be a stay at home mom with them, too. I truly, truly, envy the women who are stay at home mothers, or have a schedule that allows them to be home when their kids are home, and work the hours they are in school. There is nothing more important to me than family, and I agree with you, there is nothing better, more important, that those you love being happy. I agree, the divorce rate would most likely be lower, and our youth wouldn’t have all the problems that they develop because both parents work and are too busy or don’t prioritize family. Then these problems become generational because we are nurtured this way. I look at my parents’ generation, at one of the last to have housewives and stay at home moms (as was the case with my dad), and I look at the younger generations where both parents were most likely business driven, because of new opportunities and pressures to work work work, and we truly, truly, are losing grasp on ourselves in regards to family life. Family isn’t an option, or something you work into your schedule. Always, ALWAYS, family first. 🙂

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      1. I read this post when you originally posted it, and just came back and read the comments. While I originally agreed with the post, it now seems in the comments that in your attempt to argue that housewives are equal to working women, you are putting down those that DO work outside of the home. Saying that women who choose to work are risking their marriages and the welfare of their children is a little harsh I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I think all families are different, and that housewives and working women are on an equal plane. I don’t think most working women put their families second, but maybe they let other things slide. I work full-time, and still want quality time with Geoff when I come home…so maybe the dishes can wait for tomorrow…you know what I mean? I definitely don’t keep the apartment in as nice of shape as I could if I stayed home, but I’m willing to let those things wait because I think time with someone I love is more important. It’s just priorities I guess. Instead of putting my career on the back burner, I put housework there, and you do the opposite. I don’t see that one is better than the other.

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      2. I never intended to put down or disrespect women who work. I don’t think any less of those who work, and those who don’t work. It’s a lifestyle choice for everyone. You choose to either live on one income, or in my case, fall into working with one income, work with two…if you’re lucky, you have an income. Everyone has different priorities, and putting things second or third doesn’t necessarily make them any less, they just come second or third, or what have you. It could be a distant second, it could be a close second. I know for me, right now, not working before my husband deploys is best for ME, best for US. I am able to not necessarily have to worry so much about what time I will have with him. With all due respect, being married to someone who is deploying, or having someone in the family who is deploying, it puts life in a different perspective. Sure, I could look for part time and/or full time jobs in sales, dining, what have you, and we’d have more money. Or, I can make the sacrifice now, budget on one income, and not regret NOT having time with him. I personally feel that, socially, however, women, even men, are EXPECTED to work, and there is, socially, a kind of disrespect for those, men or women, who choose not to work. You’re considered “better than _” if you have a job, or are employed full-time. And I understand there’s even a hierarchy of full-time vs. part-time, and what kind of job you have. But as a homemaker, and even for my friends who are stay-at-home moms, they are looked at the same way as a woman who is employed with children. We’ve completely gone away from the idea that a mother in the home is a good thing, yay for her, and yay for her children who are getting the parenting they need, and not stuck with a babysitter or at daycare and only see their parents for 2 hours a night before it’s time for bed. I was raised with both working parents, and I remember the late nights. I was lucky to have a great babysitter, so it felt like a second family. So I know that not EVERY working family has the same problems, or can’t balance everything. It’s so hard to write this out, on the cuff, because I feel like I’m so unorganized. So, lets see…
        I don’t think less of working parents, or working women.
        I feel like IF it can be budgeted, having both parents work should be a choice, and whatever the choice may be, it should be respected, so long as the children are provided for, and treated appropriately. (Being a stay at home mom, and not doing ANYTHING is a disgrace.)
        I agree, I don’t believe that one is better than the other (working, not working) so long as you’re able to do everything to your best potential, I guess.

        I hope I’m making sense.

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  2. When I got married, I left a very good job and could not get a job in my field, so I settled for a job at JoAnn’s fabrics. I absolutely loved it! I told them the hours I was willing to work and they accepted it. It was perfect for me!

    By the time we moved to the next duty station, I was pregnant and was able to be a full-time stay at home mom and wife. I love what I do and my husband is wonderful enough to also be okay with my occasional girl’s nights out so I can be “ME”, not “Mommy” or Mrs X.

    I believe that we each have to do what is right for us. And the heck with whatever others have to say.

    And just a note — the women’s movement was originally set up so that we could be equal to men in the sense that we could vote and own property (not be property). And while I am glad that the women’s movement occured, I am saddened by the divide it has caused betweent those of us that have choosen to take, what they would call, “old fashion roles” in our life. They should be happy because we have the choice to do what we want and not forced to do what “they” think is our role.0

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    1. Agreed. I feel like there’s a stigma, and those who choose “old fashioned roles” should be shamed for choosing not to gain employment outside the home. Hooray for the CHOICE the movement inevitably granted us, but over the years it’s become an expectation, that women will gain employment outside the home. And by no means do I want to belittle the women who do, and who rise up the corporate ladder in their companies – I wanted to be one of those women at one time. But circumstances have temporarily (I hope) caused me to pursue other goals, and have restructured my values.

      On a side note, kind of related, but it feels like everything in society has become so big, that people are no longer living for themselves, but for the false-expectations they feel.

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      1. You are so correct! People are too worried about what others think of them instead of how they think they should be!

        Maybe someday we will be stationed at the same post and can have coffee and discuss this! LOL

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