I have always liked definitions. I am orderly and they seem to help guide my thoughts. I started thinking that we have never discussed what it means to be a “next generation military spouse.”
What has defined military spouses of past generations. In the past, military spouses were almost always women, and many were stay at home mothers. There were assumptions made that wives of individuals of certain ranks would be socially involved in the units.
When my husband and I began dating, I told him honestly that I had no interest in marrying into the military, and I would never be content to act a certain way simply based on who my husband is. I made it clear that I would not change who I am and would not be magically fulfilled by being involved in his work life.
So what is a next generation military spouse?
Defining The Next Generation Military Spouse
Not all military spouses are female. In 2012, the military spouse of the year was a male, Jeremy Hilton, an advocate for special needs families and an excellent spokesperson for all military spouses. Male military spouses are often overlooked and forgotten, as fewer military members are female and those female members are more likely to be unmarried. Male military spouses bring a different (and important) voice to the military spouse community and they should be embraced.
Not all military spouses have children and some don’t want children. Just because a military family does not have children does not make them less of a family.
Next generation military spouses want their own identity and do not want to be defined by their service members’ rank. They want fulfillment through things they choose to do whether that is working outside of the home, working at home, volunteering, or life as a stay at home parent. They don’t want to be denied jobs due to state licensing or difficulty completing higher education due to the constant moves.
With the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, military spouses can be unmarried partners (in the eyes of the government and not in their hearts). We have a long fight ahead of us in dismantling DOMA and getting our LGBT community members on equal footing when it comes to entitlements and benefits for military families. Here at NextGen Milspouse, we are proud allies, and hope to hear their voices more.
Are you an ally? Check out our partners over at The American Military Partners Association to learn how you can support our LGBT milspouses.
The average age of first marriages in 2011 was 29 for men and 27 for women. With people delaying the age of marriage, next generation military “spouses” might be girlfriends/boyfriends in a dedicated relationship, who are on their journey to becoming a “spouse.” I joined my husband at his first assignment after we got engaged. While we weren’t yet married, his unit greeted me with open arms, and I have lifelong friendships from that time.
So what is a next generation milspouse? A man or woman in a lifetime commitment with a military man or woman. It really can be that simple, at least for me.