MSEJ August 2018 - Page 13

To some extent, this favoring of our spouse’s careers makes sense. For most military families—the military career provides the majority of the income, health insurance, and other benefits. Civilian families face the same concerns—one partner’s career may be more important because it sustains the family unit. We just have the added bonus of court martials for dereliction of duty.

So, yes, the military career is often our focus, but the other concerns matter too. For spouses who are trying to find some kind of life balance without pulling all their hair out, these categories are ultimately about values and priorities, what we have room for in our lives.

As military spouses, we don’t get to say we don’t have room for our spouse’s career and all that it entails. Or, rather, you can say that, but you’ll either end up out

of the military as a family, out of your marriage on your own, or a really unhappy individual.

So, back to this dilemma. We do have choices to make, and we know that our choices are profoundly impacted by our military lifestyles. What is a spouse to do? How do you decide what you value, what you have room for, and what you can make peace with leaving behind?

May I make a suggestion? Take a step back to your childhood and Choose Your Own Adventure. As a child, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. As a spouse, I wish military life were more like them, where you could thumb ahead a few pages and see where your choices might land you. We could look forward and see the effect of our PCS orders, our debate over whether or not to buy a house, or even those three values we’ve selected from the seven at our fingertips.

I can’t call up the military and put this Choose Your Own Adventure idea into their suggestion box.