Monday, July 19, 2010

How much say do you have in his career?

I've hesitated posting about this for quite awhile because I'm always a little nervous someone is going to be offended. It seems like every time I've thought "Okay, why not now?!" then I have this conversation with yet another wife. I don't want anyone thinking I'm using them as an example so if you and I have had this conversation please know I've had it like 100 times over the course of my marriage to G.I. Joe.

I have heard a lot of things like:

"Oh wow. G.I. Joe's job is tough/dangerous/stressful.

I'm so glad my husband doesn't do that."


"I won't let my husband/boyfriend/fiance have that job."

Sometimes people get really worried saying that to me, like I'll get offended. I really don't mind stuff like that. I'm proud of how brave he is and how sturdy it makes our relationship that we can withstand certain things. But I also am not so unrealistic that I don't ever worry. I worry...a lot. (In an upcoming post I'll share my "worst fears" and a little about my freshman year as a Milie to explain some of that) There have been times when I wished he had a "safer" job. The thing is though that "safer" is very subjective. Please show me an MOS that doesn't deploy at all, ever. You'll be hard pressed to find one.

When he was enlisting the first time we weren't even dating. Now he's re-enlisting and I know that if I asked, he would chose a job he doesn't love just to put my mind at ease or to make things more convenient for me. G.I. Joe has certain dreams for his career but he loves his girls more and would gladly do something else. He's told me that many times. But I don't believe its my place to tell him what MOS he can or can't have. I don't feel right about telling him what branch to go into and which to stay out of. Mainly because if he feels called to save lives in this way, I could be doing people I don't even know a lot of harm all due to my fear. So I try my hardest to live above the fear and focus on how proud I am of him.

G.I. Joe will spend the rest of his career deploying a lot, in danger a lot...but the one area I do feel like I pull a little more weight in is what capacity he serves. Will he do those things as a Master Sergeant? A Warrent Officer? Or a Commander? I'm not going to put my foot down and say "you need to go this way" but this is where I don't feel a bit of hesitation to give him a little nudge toward what I think he would be good at. All the while knowing I'll support him no matter what decision he makes.

So I do make my opinions known, and he considers them whole-heartedly. Certain decisions though are 100% his.

How do you handle these decisions in your family? How much of the decisions should include the spouse or future spouse? I don't think anyway is really wrong, until someone throws out an ultimatum that's just totally unfair. The way we do things wouldn't work for every other family out there, and what works for you all might not work for us either!

Also, on a totally unrelated note...stop by Ask the Milies today! We want YOUR advice on PCS! We're compiling a big posts that will be made up of the awesome advice from our readers. This first round will be for PCS So just imagine a new military wife approaches you and she's about to make her first move. What would you tell her that you wish someone would have told you? All you have to do to see your advice featured on the site is fill out the Question form on the main page. In the body put your advice. We can't wait to see the outcome of this because we know that all military wives have so much wisdom to offer.


Jamie said...

Great post, I am certain most of us have felt this way and had those questions. My guy is a WO training to be a helicopter pilot. We aren't married, but even if we were, I couldn't imagine telling him what to do or what not to do in terms of his career. I want him to be happy. Then in turn, I think he's a better partner as opposed to if he were resenting me. The bigger issue for us is balancing both of our careers!

JG said...

Even pre-Army, SoldierMan always included me in his decisions. As he said, it's not just 'his" career, it's OUR life. When he was looking at agencies right after college, there were a few options he had that he let me have veto power on. And obviously, when the Army came along, it was very much an US decision. Personally, I don't understand how it can't be - I mean, I think we all know that it's not the same as being married to a car salesman. We aren't married to a guy in the Army, we're married to the Army - they own him, and our family. They will decide where we live and how much he makes and how much he's home. They run our family. So, to us, it had to be a "family" decision.

Rei said...

I completely agree. There are things I'll make known but his career and his decisions are HIS. He doesn't say that I shouldn't go back to school or go for a particular job so why should I do that to him? On the flipside though, there is an understanding of honesty in our future plans.

Beth said...

This is a conversation that D and I had the other day, actually. There are some different career paths in our future and he asked me what I thought. I know that it is something he really wants to do, will be great for him in the long run and comes with more uncertainty and danger than ever. He told me that if I didn't want him to do it, he wouldn't.

Like you said, there are certain aspects that I will offer my opinion on, but I would never tell him to accept a job that he won't enjoy or that will make him miserable for my peace of mind. He's staying in, so the idea of a safe job is relative. As our sole breadwinner, I think its important for him to be doing a job he loves.

Interesting that you posted this when D and I just had almost the same conversation this weekend!

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

JG I agree with you to an extent. Because I completely understand how the Army runs our lives and that I'm married to the Army. Most of our marriage has been spent apart thanks to the good old Army.

However...I would never dream of taking those things and using them to say "Hey babe, I don't like this stuff about Army life. Join the Coast Guard instead. I don't want you back in the Army." (I just picked a random branch that is very different from the Army) That would just be wrong because its such a different job and life he'd be miserable. That wasn't meant for him. Its great for someone else's gifts and personalities, but not his. Which means, like someone else pointed out, if he's miserable because I pulled a heavy hand he could resent me later.

I'd rather have to go through certain hardships but know our relationship grows stronger every day because of them then have a "perfect" life where he isn't able to live up to his full potential.

But that's just my way of thinking. :)

And its funny how "his dreams" really are "our dreams" and vise versa. I never dreamed I'd see the day when I would be hoping and praying the love of my life gets the position he's after. But I really do want it for him because we're one, and our happiness and joy are also one. He feels the same about me writing. G.I. Joe is an extremely private person. Yet somehow he's opened up to the idea of this blog and me writing books and articles about our relationship and the deepest parts of our marriage. So, this really isn't a one way street.

I think for us this is just about growth. Helping him reach his goals and achieve these things teaches me every day to live outside of my comfort zone and to not let fear run my life. Its about adapting to whatever comes our way. That's how I see it. Its not at all about him making every decision on his own.

LCpl'sPrincess said...

HMMMMM... well we make every decision TOGETHER, when he joined- we made the decision together- now that he is infantry- we made the decision together, and both also made the decision that when it is our time to start a family he will change MOS to something more stable,less dangerous. I think it is different for every couple, and whatever works best -to each their own! We make our decisions together because it effects more than just my husband, it effects our life as a whole due to the nature of his job, he wants to be there to see as much of his babies growing up and I couldn't be happier about it =)

Sammie said...

My husband joined the Air Force this past January and since he's a little "older" (23) and we have already started our family, the decision of which branch to go into was a family decision, not his alone. Our fears and concerns played a big role in deciding that the AF was for us. But when it came to his specific job, that was all him.

Even though he just joined, we're already thinking ahead to whether or not the AF is going to be his career. He doesn't have to make that decision for about 5.5 years, but its something that will affect the entire family. If one of us dislikes the military lifestyle, it wouldn't be fair for him to continue on this path for another 15+ years.

I think its important that some decisions be made jointly because joining the military isn't just taking on a career--its taking on a lifestyle. And everyone in the family has to be agreeable to that, and to the results of certain career decisions.

Alexandra said...

Hi, Im somewhat of a new follower. I love this post. I'd never tell my husband what to do with his job, since he would never tell me which job I should choose. We try to cooperate (sp?) our jobs, I'll be starting a new one in October and I need to stay in the area for 3 years in order to finish, and well with the army you never know whats gonna happen. So he is trying to make sure we will stay here, since its important for me to work and be dependent, specialy when he is gone for training or deployment. He is happy with the MOS he has right now and so I wouldn't tell him he should change it.
So anyway, I guess we always try to find a way that works for both of us.

Anonymous said...

I've wondered the same thing. On Army Wives {and I know that the show can be overly dramatic and unrealistic at times but...} the wives tend to "say a lot" when it comes to their husbands careers. When I see that I'm baffled because I have never been like that. When Matt's trying to decide which MOS he wants to go back to (since he has two) I give him my advice, I know he loves one more than the other, so that's the job I want him to do. And as far as safety goes, it's hard to feel like any MOS is safe because yeah, they all deploy. And even when Matt said he would be in a "safe place" and he wouldn't see much action, he was still bombed on a too-frequent basis. And during this last deployment, even though it's not his MOS, he was attatched to a grunt unit doing patrols. Anything can happen at anytime despite the MOS so the only real way to know nothing would happen is for him to get out of the military period. But since before I met him, that's all he ever wanted to be was a Marine, what kind of wife would I be to tell him no, I don't want him to do that... And I wouldn't want him telling me what I can and can't do!

Roller Coaster said...

Another tough topic. My husband and I always have discussions about his career path, but like you, I feel it's ultimately his decision. The military didn't become a part of our lives until a few years after we got married so we had already established a strong method of communication. I do worry about him and where his job will take him, but I want him to be happy. I don't want him to take a job that won't make him happy because then he won't be happy at home. I've had friends who make ultimatums, but I don't think that's fair to do in most circumstances in a marriage, military related or not. We discuss, we make lists of pros and cons, I offer my input, he offers his, and we go from there.

Anonymous said...

Your statement about not wanting to cause others harm due to your fear really made me pause. I never thought of it that way. My soldier is a physician assistant, and a darn good one IMHO;) Asking him to work in a "non-deployable position" means that there is one less really good PA attending to the wounded over there.

Unknown said...

I loved this post. For us, the military is something still very new and we discuss his career a lot and I try to do my homework so I can be informed and be able to contribute. He does include me but ultimately, it is his decision and I support him 100%

Chelle said...

My philosophy is pretty simple, I met him while he was in the service there fore Uncle Sam will always come first.

I am perfectly capable of raising our family, taking care of the vehicles, managing the finances alone. I will and have not ever told him he can't do what he wants. I will voice my opinion on any subject matter but when it comes down to it, it's ultimately his choice.

What kind of life would I have if I forced him into what I thought he should do and instead he is miserable. That's not living, for him or I. With that said, I do not like a lot of the things he does in the Army but know it's in his blood. I can not change what flows through his veins and heart. I do not like taking care of these things alone, but I accept and deal. I am good at it, sometimes better then he is. I just want him to be happy and forcing demands only stifles one's person.

Anonymous said...

Remember, this is YOUR blog. Don't worry about whether or not people will be offended by what you write.

I think most of us have wished our spouses had a "safer" job. In the end, I always let my husband have the final say. My career can move with us. Then again, we agreed on 20 years, so we have a LONG way to go until we make the "getting out" decision.

Best of luck on making the final decision.

Amanda said...

My husband is the one who has to go to work every day and be happy in his job. He's had jobs where he's been VERY unhappy and it's really affected our lives at home. I always ask him when he's at a crossroads if he wants to go back to that place in our lives when he was so unhappy. His career path was pretty well set long before I ever came into the picture. He already had 9 years in the Army. I don't tell him any more than he'd tell me what to do, but we do consult each other and give our opinions. I can only think of one scenario where I'd totally put my foot down, but it has to do with moving, not his job persay.

And you're right about "safe" being relative. You would think my husband would have a "safe" job, but tell that to the insurgents in Iraq.

Mrs. Doc Handsome said...

I reall love that you posted this. And before I get to my answer, I just wanted to say thank you for making the point that EVERY MOS is a dangerous one. And even more so, an important one. There's a reason the military has that MOS...because it is needed. The armed forces couldn't run without every single MOS. I wanted to say thank you for that point because I have had a conversation with another military wife who was knocking my husband for his first deployment being a safe one. His MOS is very dangerous most of the time (he's a medic) but it just happened his first deployment was not so dangerous, luckily. For that I was grateful seeing as it was our first and he left right after we found our we were pregnant.

I completely agree with you about the decision making in your family. My husband loves our son and myself incredibly, but this is his calling. He feels a certain amount of duty and pride in serving his country. There are choices that are strictly his to make and even knowing that, he always questions me with, "well what do you think babe?" It really all boils down to one answer for our family, "Whatever you want to do, I support." Because like you said, who am I to say that he shouldn't be serving our great country? We are just one story in the bigger picture. Thousands and millions of military wives have been in my position and they made it through just fine. That thought for me, is comforting. To know that I'm not alone in this lifestyle and that I can support my husband while being proud.

vixen kitten said...

I just want to say how much I am enjoying your posts. I am in a bit of a different situation than you, and most of your great commenters. I am a proud Army Mom!

This past fall I watched my son deal with a broken heart when his g/f of 2 years, broke things off with him 3 weeks before Christmas. He had already purchased a ring, and was going to give it to her on Christmas. Her reason for ending things was that she was just "sick" of the military stuff! He had already been a soldier 2 years when they met, and she knew going in that he had made an 8 year commitment.

Reading your posts and comments remind me that there are some really wonderful, amazing women out there who are proud and supportive of the men who choose to serve our country.


Mel said...

I'm like you. I will support whatever job he wants to do, although he would likely change it if I asked him. I look at it this way, I would have trouble respecting him if he changed his whole set of goals for me, just like I would have less respect for him if he asked me to change mine. It's important to support each others individual goals AND looking at what's best for the whole.

Thanks for this post.

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

I really love hearing everyone else's thoughts on these things.

Oh Army Wives. Geeze. That's what I don't like about that show at times. Unfortunately there are wives out there who are extreme like that. What gets me though was always Pamela's character. In the first episode of the series she's giving Chase shooting tips so he can make Delta. Then she can't stop complaining and treating him like dirt when he's gone all the time. I definitely understand that until you are in the situation you don't know exactly how hard it would be, but still. She encouraged it. She had an idea. She didn't need to make his life hell.

I know its just a TV show but situations like theirs can definitely happen.

Sarah said...

I agree with you to an extent. It's different for us, though, because Joe joined the Army after we'd already been married for a year. It was a decision we didn't take lightly, and I know that if I told him I just couldn't take this military life he'd get out as soon as his contract was up. That said, he chose his MOS and the track he wanted to take. He's recently told me that he wants to go to OCS BADLY. As much as it effects me, I still want him to do what makes him happy - what he feels called to do. I don't want him to work somewhere just because he feels called to provide (which is the main reason he enlisted). So, if he wants to stay enlisted, I'll support him. If he wants to go to OCS, I'll be there, standing proud. =) He always includes me on his decisions, but like you, I won't force him to do something that doesn't fulfill him.

It takes a different kind of person to be a Milie. Which is why all women (and men) aren't milspouses. =)

Cortney @ Box & Bay said...

Once we got married, every decision (including my career) became OUR decision. Now, that doesn't mean I would tell him to switch his MOS, but it did mean that when it came time to PCS, if was a choice we made together. There is always a balance here, and it ALWAYS pays to have an open, honest conversation about these things, but for us, these are always joint decisions. If it is what he really wants and it doesn't have massive negative impacts on our family, then its a go (and vice versa)... but if it were to make our family situation worse, we would work together to find a happy compromise. But hey! That's just us! :)

Tiffany said...

What a great post and great comments too. I am not married, but my guy has just started his journey into the Navy. We have talked about the possibility of making us more permanent one day in the future, and he told me a while ago, before we ever got serious, a little bit about how the military life is. I had to think about it for a while, it was such a major decision. But after a lot of thought, I decided that I would stand by him no matter what. (I think the scariest thing for me was thinking about leaving my home and family)...But I would never think to ask him not to do something that I knew his heart told him to do. We always just pray about it and we know that we will be lead in the direction we are suppose to be going. I admire all of the women who have men in the military, all of the blogs I keep up with have really been an inspiration for me...thanks ladies :)

Erin said...

When we were dating my husband asked me what I would do if he reenlisted. I told him if we were married I'd follow him any where (How's that for a subtle hint?)and through anything. 5 pcs's in 7 years, 7 surgeries for him, 1 stroke for our son and a bi-polar diagnosis for our daughter and I think I've put that commitment to the test and then some. We are a team but I wouldn't change his decision if it meant he would be unhappy. He converted to Recruiting after Colby's stroke so he wouldn't deploy anymore. So I have him home and it's a huge blessing. Maybe he will go to a school or two but that's it. We both hate recruiting but it's what works best for our family. I would have supported him either way in his decision to go back to his primary MOS or convert. But ultimately it was his decision and I'm grateful that he looked at the big picture for everyone not just him.

Roxanne said...

My husband is retired now. I always had input as to which bases to put in for and stuff like that, but when it came to the really big decisions, he made them, because it was his career and he was the one that had to do it. I really wanted him to be an officer and got him to take the written and physical tests. He passed both with flying colors, had the education, etc., but at the last minute, he decided, no, that wasn't what he wanted to do. He was happy as an enlisted man and wanted to stay that way, and I didn't push him otherwise, because, like I said, he was the one who had to do it, not me. Who wants an unhappy husband?

Goodnight moon said...

Again...another great post!

I think this is a good topic. For my Fox and I, he always talks to me about his "path", and he tells me that the decision is always up to me, and what I want...he is so sweet like that. I then in response tell him that no way...this is your career, your job, and I want you to be happy with the decision. We weigh out all the pro's and con's...and then we both make a decision. I FULLY support anything that he does, because I know he makes those decisions with us in mind. I know the decision that we just made for him to go back to his old unit is going to be EXTREMELY dangerous, BUT...I believe in him, and I want him to be happy, so I support him. It will be a VERY hard next deployment, but...I love him, and I will follow him to any command, and any duty station.

Anonymous said...

Husband's contract will be up shortly after his next deployment returns. My main issue is the post we'll be at. He knows how I feel (get us out of the post) but my say ends there. Would I love it if he got out, got that federal dream job he has contacts for, and we started a rockin' stable life? Hell yeah! But he loves his job, and has a desire to retire EOD out of the Army. We only have ten years left, so no worries either way. Getting a great post after the next one would definitely be a little treat for me, making staying in taste a little sweeter.

Laina said...

Hello Mrs. GI Joe. Thanks for being one of my newest followers :) I love your blog. It's always great to meet other military spouses. I am your newest follower and look forward to reading new posts and following your journey :) Take care.

Bombtastic Belle said...

Rich had already been in the Army almost three years I think when we got together/married - I had no say-so on what MOS he took, obviously. And, honestly, I love what he did - he was EOD, went straight into after basic and did it up until the day he got out, and now teaches it at the school house for all military.

I always worried about wher he was on deployment and the unknowns, but never about his job itself. He made it comfortable for me that I was ok.

Anonymous said...

I realize you're an Army wife, no a USMC wife, but you might enjoy this post my friend wrote up today:

It's really a hard thing to come to terms with... this job... and when we support it and when we don't. :/

Jacki said...

Great post!! My husband was in the Navy before we met, so I came into the relationship and marriage knowing he was a military man, now with that said my husband can't wait to get out of the Navy. We have talked a lot about whethere he will stay in or not and what we will do after this duty station... It isn't my career or job, I'm not the one who has to go to work and deal with everything that goes on there, and I'm not the one who deploys yearly(were forward deployed)... so to me I have little say in what happens, but he always asks me and its a 50/50 decision on everything.

Anonymous said...

I apologize in advance for commenting anonymously. I don't have a blog and I just stumbled across this post and wanted to throw in my perspective. :-)

I've been a military wife for 3.5 years now, and it has always concerned me when I hear other wives say "Oh, he decided to stay in the military" or "He decided to volunteer for this deployment". I understand wanting your husband's career to be his own, but I simply cannot fathom that decisions of this magnitude, decisions that could change both of your lives for months, years, or forever could be made by only one partner. How can I feel comfortable making sacrifices for this individual and this lifestyle if I am not granted any say in our future? I do the same for my husband in return; when I was asked to go on a business trip for my job, I asked my husband if it would be alright with him. Similarly, before applying for other jobs (particularly those that would require us to move, me to travel more, or anything outside of a typical work schedule), I have always talked things through with my husband. I expect nothing less from him, regardless of his profession.

I've heard the line "This is what you signed up for [by marrying a servicemember]" before, but I can't help but think that when I signed up for this, I didn't sign a blank check. I signed up for a partnership.

What my husband does on his average workday, even his deployed workday, is his's HIS job. But things that affect us both outside of the workday...that's OUR life.