About Me

Fort Bragg, NC, United States
I'm a stay at home dad raising four beautiful children. I am the proud spouse of an Army Lieutenant Colonel. I do my best to keep up with the kids and all of their activities. I enjoy playing the bass and the occasional bass guitar building project. You can follow me on twitter if you so desire...@ArmySpouse007.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's not just Army wives any more!

Throughout the years, I've wondered what it would be like to get up and go to a job each and every day. Oh sure, I've had a regular job. I was a school teacher, 12 and a half years ago, that is. Since then, aside from a few odds and ends jobs never totally more than a couple of hours per week, I haven't worked a regular, proper paying job since. That's right. I'm a stay at home dad.

For most guys, this isn't something that comes naturally. We have this innate drive in us to provide for our families, to be the one with the hard driving career that defines us. So, to give it all up and accept a 7 day/week job that doesn't pay a penny but has LONG hours can be a tough swallow for many men. Yes, I know... there are plenty of ladies who have been doing this for years and don't want to hear our complaints. Honestly, I'm not complaining, I'm just giving you, my gentle reader, a glimpse into the mind of a guy (scary place that it might be!).

What is more revealing, though, is the fact that in our military, there are more and more women who are stepping up to serve. And many of their spouses are leaving behind careers to support their wives as they serve. What used to be uncommon has become less so. Attending an FRG meeting and seeing dudes there who aren't in uniform isn't so surprising any more. Take my wife's unit, for example. There are currently 5 of us. And all of us are active in the unit, not just hiding out, hoping not to be seen. And the more that come and get involved, the easier it is for more to feel comfortable doing it as well.

There are those, however, who simply can't get away from the stereotypes that have defined military spouses for generations. I'll give you two examples, both of which come from the LTC/SGM Pre-Command Course that I attended with my wife. This course was intended to prepare spouses for the roles that we would play as either the Commander or SGM spouse in our units.

The first example was the welcome letter I received three weeks prior to the arriving at the course. It was the standard letter welcoming me and assuring me that this course would be beneficial to my experience as a commander's spouse. That was all well and good except for who they made the letter out to. That's right, it started off by saying, "Dear Mrs. Blake." All I could do was shake my head when
I saw it. Think about it: they had all of my information prior to the course. I was registered as Tim Blake (as my name tag I received upon arrival would attest) and was expected. And yet, whoever was in charge of the event made the same old generalization and assumed that, as a spouse, I must indeed be a female.

The second example was even more grievous than the first. On the first day of the course, we were separated from our active duty spouses and taken to a large conference room for panel discussions with "senior spouses". The first included the CG's wife, and the second included two spouses (both wives) of the Army's most senior leadership. The CG's wife continually told us about how we could best support our "husbands". One of the other wives addressed our group by saying "well, good morning ladies!" What made this completely inexcusable in BOTH cases was that there were no less than 5 of us guys in the room, ALL OF US SITTING IN THE FRONT ROW. At the end of the second session with the two "senior wives", the afore mentioned spouse uttered this: "Thank you so much ladies!" As you can imagine, I'd had enough. I stood up and said, "and gentlemen!" She fell all over herself apologizing for her mistake, but the damage had been done.

You see, this is exactly why more men don't get involved in spouses groups and the like. And this will continue as long as this current generation of military spouses clings to these same generalizations and stereotype. The thing is, soldiers aren't just men any more, and it's not just military wives who are military spouses any more either. It is up to us to start changing the culture and making spouses of BOTH sexes feel welcomed and included.

The challenge used to be the officer spouses against the enlisted spouses (and maybe in some places it still is, but it hasn't been in any of the places I've been in the last 6 years). Now, the challenge is realizing that more and more men are military spouses. I don't consider myself an "Army Husband". I'm an Army Spouse. And so are all of us who are married to members of the military. It's not just Army Wives any more!

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12 comments:

  1. Exactly! Love ya Tim, you're one of the MOST INSPIRATIONAL ARMY SPOUSES I KNOW!

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  2. You go, Tim. You've been changing the generalizations and stereotype for a while.
    Mary Mehan

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  3. You are so right! And I love how involved you are within the community. I know a few husbands who don't want to get involved because they feel it is beneath them to be the civilian while their wives serve. I was at a Dining Out this past spring, and the CO complimented all the wives on how nice they looked, but forgot that there were male spouses as well. Someone did correct him, and he did apologize, but it was still a reminder that the military keeps one foot in the past.

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  4. I think that's the point. It's hard for the men to truly get involved and feel included when so many still assume that spouses are all females.

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    1. Great post and blog Tim. You and I are on similar paths. After eight years as a Stay @ Home Dad, living both on and off-post and serving as an FRG Advisor while my wife and her Battalion were deployed, I have had my share of "Welcome Ladies" moments and concur with your assessment of the challenges. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Great blog. AND I had to smile. As one of the early women in the Army, I had to deal with constantly being addressed as Sir (in person, not just on the phone...I used to say "can you really not tell I'm a female?" and was told "we were trained to address every officer as Sir."), and having every speaker in courses address us as "Gentlemen!" Change did come slowly and then it sped up over time. I know it seems like it's coming slowly for male military spouses but it's exactly people like you Tim who will speed up the needed change. Kudos and keep up the good fight:) Hope to meet you sometime.

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  6. Hello! This is Janet @ No Ordinary Life (I was actively blogging on there a while back). I just wanted to stop in and say "hi" and catch up on your blog when I have more time. I used to love coming here to get your perspective on the whole military spouse way of life. I also started another blog: http://up-anchorsetsail.blogspot.com/ and will use that one as an all around travel, creativity, etc. blog. I put a link to your blog up on that one, since I like it so much ;). Have a great day! J~

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  8. Hello Tim, I came across your blog researching how to explain to civilians how those silly commissary lines work! You have a great explanation that I'm happy to share with my own readers. I am the wife of an Air Force squadron commander and I enjoyed reading several of your posts.

    Welcome to San Angelo also -- when I was active duty I took a TDY there (hurricane evacuation from the East Coast of Florida in 2004) and my main memory of San Angelo was...the amazing breakfast burritos! Silly, I know!

    I look forward to subscribing to your posts, they're great perspectives and I hope to share them with other military spouses of the male persuasion :-)

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  9. I recently wrote the Army Wife Network and suggested they not necessarily change their name but consider adding a male Army spouse to their logo. The response I got was their name was trademarked, they wouldn't modify their logo because they already paid once to have it (depicting women exclusively), and there were resources like MANning the Homefront for male spouses. I am reminded of the many Officer Civilian Wives Clubs that changed the W to Women rather than allowing male spouses to join. Sad.

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