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.