Roadmap to Understanding the Childless Military Spouse

couple-jumpingLet me be honest here for a minute. I’m 28. I’ve been married for four years. I am a military spouse. I don’t have kids, nor are they in my immediate future.

Boom.

I’m sure some of you will read that and, no doubt, think I’m weird. But spouses like me are not rare; in fact, there are a ton of us. We’re just hiding from the command parties that feature bubble wrap laid on the floor for your kids to trample on.

Ok, we’re not really hiding. But in my experience, some spouses with children often forget how to communicate with those of us who are not parents. We all came from the same bus stop, remember? Just not all of us took the ride into parenthood.

Speaking of my experiences, here are some of the craziest things that spouses with kids have said to me.

Consider this a roadmap of what not to say to the childless military spouse:

“Don’t you feel useless with all that free time and nothing to focus your energy on?”

“You don’t want to be the OLD mom – better not wait much longer!”

“Are you having infertility issues?”

“You could just adopt!”

“Aren’t you READY for kids?!”

“But you’re almost thirty.”

“Having kids gets us so much more money on our tax return!”

“Don’t you get lonely?”

As military spouses, we’re all trying to find common ground, share experiences, and support each other. And while none of the spouses who said these things to me meant any ill regard, they still made me feel excluded.

Those of us in the military community who don’t have kids by the “normal” age (read: young parents) still want to be included in your play dates, kids events, and yes, we’ll even help set up the bubble wrap on the floor at the next command Christmas party. Maybe we are struggling with experiencing pregnancy, or worse, maybe we’ve lost a pregnancy, but we just aren’t sharing. Or (gasp!) maybe we are childfree by choice.

Having children is a big decision for any one, and those of us who haven’t crossed that bridge, still have other things in common with you. We’re loving wives, focused employees, loyal friends, and can be a genuine support system for you on this military journey!

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

5 responses to “Roadmap to Understanding the Childless Military Spouse

  1. Good post. We were married for almost 10 years before we had a child. As a childless spouse and now a momma, I enjoy my girlfriend time sans kiddos. I’m in a wine club and enjoy time with my girlfriends.

  2. Katherine Kelly

    As the wife of a navy officer, now retired, i can relate. We married at age 25, had our only child at 38, she is now 7. We waited for a variety of reasons, one being we weren’t sure abt moving around base to base w a kid. Of course i never told other military wives this concern least they think i was being judgemental. I worked so we always had friends that we’re outside Navy life but it was weird during one assignment in DC when all the other families thought we were weird for not living in NOVA, rather we lived in DC and walked to the Navy Yard and only used the car on weekends to go to commissary at Bolling.

  3. Interesting timing – I’ve been struggling with this lately. Be it with events scheduled by my wife’s command, events scheduled by local military organizations, or even ones by national organizations – it seems all those which I have come across in the last few months have rotated around the idea that I have kids. And accommodate those with kids (good thing too, all parents need a break), but to the point that those who don’t have kids no longer really “fit in” to the event anymore. It can be anything from a scheduling issue (i.e., scheduled during the DAYTIME/WEEKDAYS, when us ‘barren,’ ‘childless’ women are likely working), or from where the event takes place (i.e., there’s only so many playgrounds I can visit before I feel the need to either a) build a sandcastle myself due to my unwavering sense of competition – yes, even with 5 year olds, and/or b) drink some wine or beer and have a conversation entirely consisting of ONLY grown up words (no little sneaky interjections of mom/dad phrases yelled out intermittently during the convo… or even… mid sentence! Ha!).I say most of this in jest of course… but at the heard of it, I still can’t shake the weird feeling that I haven’t yet found my “space” in the military spouse community as a full time career woman with and advanced degree (that will likely carry us in the future much more so than the military retirement that seems to be whittled away each day), and – as the author put – GASP! NO KIDS.

    Bravo, Shannon. PS – I totally remember you from the 2013 Military Spouse Summit. Well done my dear, I’m happy to see you have found your niche! :)

  4. There is nothing wrong being a Military spouse without a child. If you and your husband is happy as a couple then it is very fine. You also have a good point about helping the system in military spouse community. I love it.

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