Our Brother Military Spouses Speak Out!

Male MilSpouse ShareableLast week we published, Challenge Issued: Calling All Male Military Spouses, and we couldn’t be more pleased about the response we got from our male military spouse community.  Not only did we get some brave guys to share their thoughts in the comments, we got several emails from male military spouses who are more than willing to join our writing team, huzzah!

Until we unveil unleash unique pieces direct from the brains of our milspouse brothers, here’s a few of our favorite responses to our all-call for testosterone-infused military spouse stories.

On being a male military spouse…

As a male spouse, it is fun to “crash” those teas and coffees and mock-dine-ins – anything that historically been girlie. Face it, since we are only 7% of the spouse demographic (ok, maybe 8% this year), catering to the beefier side of a marriage may be too much, and scare away the shy young teen wives. Leave your frilly fun times the way they are, we guys will find things to do. With beer maybe. Definitely with sports. ~Dave Etter

Just like being any other sort of spouse, I guess. With obvious wrinkles, of course. But there’s no secret handshake or hidden ‘no girls allowed’ clubhouse within our emerging ranks. As far as you know. ~ Christopher Field

Well being a male spouse is different. I find myself hanging around soldiers more than I do around spouses. It’s easier to break into a group of soldiers through a poker night or a good old strategic gaming night. Whenever I move somewhere new I try my best to get into the community. Last time I helped grow a non profit in the community and joined the chamber of commerce. This time I found a once a week gaming group and hang out with a bunch of scouts and tankers. I find the easiest way to survive is through immersion. ~ Christopher Hillman

On what they love…

I don’t love ‘whats’. I love ‘whos’ (family and friends) and ‘hows’ (ferociously, steadfastly, feverishly). ~ Christopher Field

I do appreciate all the efforts that have come down to change things to gender-neutral “spouse” labels, it does my heart good. But for you guys out there who haven’t taken the plunge, it is a royal BLAST swimming in the sea of estrogen at spa-days!  ~Dave Etter

I love the travel and I love learning. I love that I get to be a renaissance man. I’ve been a sous chef, worked logistics, ran my own non profit, seen backroom politics, been in two parades, joined a few symposiums… I’ve wine tasted, log rolled, had a sing along with Ben Lee…~ Christopher Hillman

On what they hate…

Almost all the spouse support groups are explicitly for “wives” or female spouses, so it’s hard to connect and have that resource to help me out. While I haven’t started my physical transition to become male-bodied, I have socially transitioned already. It’s not secret nor could I hide that I am a male spouse, and the female spouses all treat me accordingly: they don’t like my presence at their little get-togethers (in part because I am a guy, in another part because I’m transsexual and there’s a stigma about that in our society, especially the military).  ~Gene Dillion

The things I can live without are the constant job changes, the need to adapt to a more domesticated role and come down from my raised 50s point of view. Its hard when your taught to be the bread winner and to fit into the stereotypical family man. With a masters in Public administration, a bachelors in business management and years of experience it’s hard to just be a low level clerk as well. ~ Christopher Hillman

On what female military spouses can do to help our male military spouses out…

…we have one HELL of a time figuring out how to potty train daughters. And we know you gals struggle with not sissy-fying your sons – let’s work out a schedule. You take mine for a couple of afternoons when our soldiers are deployed, and I’ll take yours! Kinda like a Big Brother/Big Sister thing, only with the stuff we are not singularly equipped to succeed at.  ~Dave Etter

On their spouses…

My wife’s schedule currently is over 60 + hours a week , she is leashed with a pager when not at work and time alone is scarce. I try to do most of the house work and day to day things. I budget the monthlies, watch the kiddo and do most of the domestic stuff. My wife in turn plays bread winner.  Lately we have taken to a poster board on our bedroom wall. It reminds us of upcoming events and activities we look forward to. ~ Christopher Hillman

I find myself saying ‘Yes, Ma’am’ a lot. ~ Christopher Field

Are you a male military spouse?  Are these guys speaking your language?  Show them some love in the comments below!

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is excellent! Love hearing the guys’ perspectives & they have a lot of really great points. Just shows that we’re all in this together – no matter what our gender or orientation! I’m looking forward to hearing more from them!

  2. Love it!! We are all in this together and can learn lots from one another.

  3. I cringed at some of these replies and I am going to write what I posted to your Facebook page:

    WTH?!?!?! Seriously? I hope you don’t have someone with such an archaic, obtuse sense of gender roles writing for you. Please let’s not set back the progress we’ve made in the milspouse community by allowing someone who would actually use a term like “sissy-fying” (I can only imagine what he means to imply here) to spew forth even more garbage than he already has! My husband has THREE daughters and yes, he “figured out” how to potty train them just fine. It would do you well, Mr. Etter to actually make an effort rather than excusing your lack of effort because your children were born of the homogametic persuasion. Times are changing. Please change with them!

    To Gene Dillion- I applaud you and I would look forward to reading more from you. I wrote a piece for the American Military Partners Association and I encourage you to become involved with them! I believe you could both be incredible resources for one another.

    Next Gen MilSpouse, I truly appreciate you broadening the horizon of what has been painted as a ‘female’ world, but in doing so I ask that you PLEASE do it responsibly and that does not include inadvertently encouraging a gender war. :/

    • Wow, no wonder some of these guys run and hide. I don’t think for a second that any one of these men meant anything bad by saying what they did, they are THEIR feelings and thoughts on the matter. But, if this is the type of response they get in asking basically for help, heaven forbid, well then I don’t blame our male counterparts for not wanting to interact with us. If, this had been a female spouse saying something of similar nature, would your reaction have been so strong and so direct, doubtful?! But, then who knows, but let’s all try and remember we are in this together, and are supposed to be here as help and support of one another, not critic what others “feel”. These are feelings, and they are relative to the person having them. Frankly, if you respond this way in general to people, people (of any persuasion) will run and hide for fear of ridicule. It’s mean, and that is something we cannot afford to be to one another, ever.

      • Michelle, is this a serious question? Absolutely I would answer any person the same. I don’t single anyone out. Male, female – that was response was archaic, unacceptable and the very reason that the sons and daughters of milspouses sometimes hide from who they really are. There are such expectations on the daughters, and especially the sons of military parents, it is, in a word, ridiculous. Words like “sissfy-ing” only serve to further exacerbate the issue at hand – we do not need to keep categorizing children into boxes because they are born with XX or XY chromosomes.

        I did not take his right to his feelings. I disagree with those feelings and I responded. It is ironic how you are trying to impose limitations to my own ideals because they differ from someone else’s. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Mean? I think not. Do not confuse mean for poignant. Big difference.

        • Heather, though not truly a question I believe if you re-read the context you will find it was more rhetorical. I feel that your “ideals” and “poignant” statements are harsh and rather than helping further your cause you instead participated in the tearing down and possible alienating of another MilSpouse, whom you did indeed single out, and by name. While you are correct, you “did not take his right to his feelings”, you certainly never considered them when chastising him to share yours. Which seem to be the only one you deem to be acceptable in this scenario. Though clearly we do not all feel the same, or at least I do not. I also found it interesting that you feel these male counterparts are placing our children into categories, and boxes. Seeing that our male counterparts are married to female military members, I would say the last thing any of them is doing is placing their children into strict gender roles. They are breaking and moving gender barriers in ways that only they can. Full time stay at home dads, and mothers working in the military to solely support the families. But, to purposefully call out another in what I personally read as a mean spirited way, I just cannot agree with, and I stand by my statement. I am not trying to take your feelings or opinions from you, I just think you could have been nicer when expressing them. And, I do not believe I mistook “mean for poignant” in your above response to Mr. Etter’s comments. “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is most usually a duck.” In this case, what I read above was, I feel, mean spirited in response to something you didn’t agree with, but it could have been handled nicer, period. As I can see now, you have no intention of listening to or entertaining the caring for the feelings of others; I will not debate this further with you. To do so would be the equivalent of beating ones head upon a wall, and I feel that would be useless. I wish you well, and hope that Mr. Etter encounters much kinder individuals at whatever duty stations his family is placed during his wife’s career. And, I hope that all our male counterparts continue to move forward by leaps and bounds, without feeling criticized or alienated by their female counterparts.

          • In no way, shape or form was I “mean” spirited and I am actually laughing because that is how YOU CHOSE to read and interpret my words. It is extremely sad that a person stating an *opinion* is being labeled as mean spirited for directly addressing sexist and obtuse statements.

            Mr. Etter gave his permission to be quoted. His name was DIRECTLY attached to HIS OWN words. Was I to pretend that his comment was made anonymously so not to “hurt” his feelings? And as Mr. Etter himself told me – he is an “old fart” (I am quoting him directly) so he believes that is an excuse to use such labels as “sissy-fying” and he apologized for offending me (though I am not offended at all and I replied to him directly).

            Just as you and I are engaged in dialogue, when you put something out on the internet you open yourself up to opinions every reader out there. If you think I am mean, you obviously have limited yourself in reading other blogs. Perhaps you should peruse the internet a bit more and then find out the TRUE meaning of “mean-spirited.”

            I happen to strongly disagree with Mr. Etter’s opinions just as you disagree with mine. Surely you are not so naïve as to think only those of us who have a pat on the back for such rhetoric were going to reply?

            I am not debating with you, Michelle. I gave my perspective. An opinion is an opinion. I expressed mine. I never said you or anyone had to agree with it. I do find your hypersensitivity a bit sad and alarming, but that is your issue. I encourage you to work on that, because as you get older (you seem very young, but I admit I may be totally misreading that) the real world will have some rude awakenings for you. Or maybe you just haven’t been exposed enough to the real world.

            Also I must address this:

            “I also found it interesting that you feel these male counterparts are placing our children into categories, and boxes. Seeing that our male counterparts are married to female military members, I would say the last thing any of them is doing is placing their children into strict gender roles. They are breaking and moving gender barriers in ways that only they can. Full time stay at home dads, and mothers working in the military to solely support the families.”

            Did you even read a word I wrote?I feel these male counterparts, plural, are doing this? I replied to ONE person. ONE. And breaking gender roles in the “only way they can”? Really? Have you spoken to them? Breaking gender roles by making light of potty training daughters and not sissy-fying boys is the only way they can break gender barriers? Have you spoken to them to know they have exhausted all of their resources? Please enlighten me as to how you KNOW this. So please before you put words into my mouth, read a bit more closely. The only person who is mean-spirited here is YOU, Michelle.

            If you find terms like “sissy-fying” acceptable and things like men using their daughter’s gender as a cop-out also acceptable, than you are a very different woman than I, and I am thankful not to be like you.

            Good luck to you, Michelle. I hope you broaden your horizons in military spouse life and outside of it, too. Freedom of Speech is a great thing – and I respect your right to yours. My father and my husband defended the Constitution so we could have it. Too bad you don’t extend that same respect to others.

          • Benjamin Davis-Minjarez

            “Seeing that our male counterparts are married to female military members, I would say the last thing any of them is doing is placing their children into strict gender roles.”

            Not all male counterparts are married to female military members, some of us male counterparts are married to male military members. So take the 7% male spouse demographic and subdivide that, there is that 1 or 2% of us that are not only completely alienated from the community, but most of us feel, i hate to use the word but, safer not engaging with the rest of the military spouse community. At least in my experience that is the case. Especially where we are currently stationed.

  4. Michelle, thank you for standing up to common decency, and to help balance an imbalanced thread. I enjoy your view of Heather’s somewhat misguided ire, and applaud your clear thoughts and insight. But, let’s make one thing completely clear here – Heather did not come across mean or chastising to me. She did come across as a damaged soul, someone who has issues deeper than what we are seeing here. For this, I hope she seeks competent help, and recognize the world isn’t as bleak as the P.C. folk make it out to be.

    My comments in the article were mostly from my life, a combination of my past military life as a Navy submarine sailor, married and trying to take care of infant children while my second wife worked as a VP in a medical clothing store. Add to that the child I have with my third (current) enlisted wife who is a teenager, and the occasional visit of her sister, her sister’s daughter and her sister’s grandson. A young child growing up in a female world. They asked ME to help potty train him as he has no male figures in his life, and it seems to have fallen to me. Made me think what is happening to my fellow MaleSpouses – who is helping take mom’s place (who wants to be there) while she is deployed for G_d knows when…. so, my response for the article is how you read it – and I stand by the “sissy-fying” statement, is borrowed from my SISTER-IN-LAW! After seeing the P.C.ers come out of the woodwork from it, I *wish* it were my own saying!

    I am old. I am set in my way, I will not change because it truly doesn’t make any difference. You want to raise your kids unclear as to what their body parts do or mean, that is your business. I cannot change you, whoever you may be. I would rather you remain you, I like honest people. I like liars. I like hacks. I like people. Heck, reader, I like you (yes, YOU!). I also like rum, beer and cheddar smokies.

    I am, and shall probably die as: Old Fart.

    • I am more than sad for you. It must be great to live with blinders on. Misguided (insert laughter and chuckles here), I suppose, is better than clueless…

      I wrote to you what I had to write on Facebook. I am happy that your life of excuses lets you sleep at night. It is my hope your children learn the lessons you didn’t give them.

    • I must add…if you think change doesn’t make a difference, you live under a rock, Mr. Etter. Please read history books. Change is a constant that has made this world a better place.

      Your sister-in-law could stand to learn a thing or two, as well. What a grave injustice to her sons…

      I don’t believe your are a lost cause, perhaps I am an idealist after all. But I am finished here other than correcting a piece I wrote above – I am not happy you can sleep at night because of your excuses. I am actually dismayed you use your age as an excuse for your [terrible] remarks.

      Misguided? HA. SMH. You may be an “old fart” in the way of years, Mr. Etter, but you have MUCH to learn. Here’s hoping you do.

      Best of luck to you and Michelle. Best of luck.

      • “I encourage you to work on that, because as you get older (you seem very young, but I admit I may be totally misreading that) the real world will have some rude awakenings for you. Or maybe you just haven’t been exposed enough to the real world.”

        “Good luck to you, Michelle. I hope you broaden your horizons in military spouse life and outside of it, too. Freedom of Speech is a great thing – and I respect your right to yours. My father and my husband defended the Constitution so we could have it. Too bad you don’t extend that same respect to others.”

        Heather…I am well past young, as my youngest of four children will be 19 and the oldest 27 this year. My current spouse has been serving for over 25 years now. And, my grandfather, father, uncle and several other family members have served in every branch except the Marines, but my son will be shipping later this year to round that out. I have traveled extensively both here in the US and overseas. I was widowed unexpectedly by my second husband at the age of 33, over fourteen years ago, my college sweetheart and I divorced prior to that. I have lost not one, not two, not even three friends to suicide in the past ten years, but five total, only one a civilian. Three and a half years ago my only niece was diagnosed with ALL, at the age of 14, and a month after beginning chemo treatments on the same day my spouse was deploying I received a call that she had had a stroke and was being life-flighted to the hospital. We were walking out the door at the time to drop my husband off at the drop site. I had to choose whether to drive the 3 hours that night to be with her and her mom or to wait. I have watched countless things happen to good, kind people and undeserving of the horrible things in life. I have seen my husband loose a soldier overseas who was only 21yo to an RPG hit, and I have stayed friends with his mom and seen how incredible she is, even after loosing her boy. I think as far as the real world having some “rude awakenings for” me, and me not being “exposed enough to the real world”, I am pretty sure it simply does not get ruder or more real than any of these things. Even as I sit here responding yet again to your musings, Heather, I have spent the morning learning that a dear friend of my niece is in hospice after a six year battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, and will not see her 19th birthday, and I am reliving the anniversary of the day one of my best friends in the world killed herself, today six years ago, at that age of 43 years old. I think I more than have the rude awakenings category covered, but thanks for your concern. I can tell you, I try very hard not to allow life to get to me anymore, and to not sweat the small stuff. But, for whatever reason I allowed myself to be sucked into this commentary. In the scheme of things, some things simply are not so darn important, like whether or not someone used the word “sissy-fied” in a thread on a blog. I should have remembered all of these things before ever typing a response to your original reply, but I didn’t and that’s my fault. But now that I do remember, and I am back on track, I will get back to what’s truly important, because this just isn’t.

  5. My opinions were sought as to how it feels to be the spouse in a military family. No where in the request was I asked to try to “right some wrongs”. Yet some people just have to make this their soapbox on injustices, things they believe were created by the babyboomer generation. Guess what, kiddies – we babyboomers started those so-called-injustice fights, we won a lot of victories in those fights, and left the next generation only crumbs to clean up. We raised this new generation differently than our parents did – gone are the Cleavers, and Daddy Knows Best. Men and women are equal, we fought for that, we did our best to pass that passion on.

    What we did NOT teach anyone (somehow this generation has made it their defining idea) is that the physical differences between boys and girls should be “grayed out” in the minds of your kids. Bad idea! If anything, the differences should be celebrated! And guess what, in military family, where Mom is the soldier, the bread winner, the (old term) “pants of the family”, and Dad is the homemaker, the cook, the taxi, the shoulder, the boo-boo fixer, these kids still grow up with solid male role models and female role models. It isn’t confusing to the kids, it’s confusing to US, the male SAHS. Yet this thread has a few female spouses attacking us, the guys who fall into that mold! Are we threatening some proprietary territory? Who owns this demographic? I simply stated some challenges we see, in a fun manner, and (unfortunately, a common occurance) someone with a chip on their shoulder jumps on me with 4 feet, wearing cleats and gouging with sharpened claws. Do I look like easy prey? Wrong person to challenge, I don’t back down. If what I say offends anyone, don’t read it. Block me, unfriend me, I don’t care – no skin off my back.

    Know the saying “Pick your battles”? Recognise this: in threads like this, everyone’s blinders are being displayed for all to see. I offered my opinions for a worthy article, so, don’t attack my opinions without expecting me to attack back. Remember, I am a guy, and I speak as honestly as I can, with no estrogen flowing. Sorry.

    Most of my kids are grown, 2 girls and 4 boys, and range from 13 to 34. We raised them all to be fair and broad (no stereotype meant with that word, so don’t shoot me) minded. My kids are/were raised to respect all opinions, and to defend their own rights. But we raised them with a mom and a dad who were married to each other. Maybe that was a wrong thing?

    • Mr. Etter, You honesty and opinions are refreshing and welcomed by me! Thank you for sharing them here. And, I imagine being the “SAHS” is a unique experience for the men. I applaud those of you doing it, and think it’s fantastic! Our world has come a long way and, It’s nice to see good changes, and the people who are making them. As for those that attack others for “stating challenges in a fun manner”, those folks will always be around I am afraid. I am just sorry I played into it with my responses to her, I should have simply kept my response to your Mr. Etter on your original comment on the thread and said, “I agree with you, Mr. Etter”. I have to remember, and some days it is hard, there are some people who will never see the views of others as anything more than an a-front to their own. And in turn, those people attack others with their “opinions” expecting us to bow down to their closed and narrow minded views of the world. Thankfully, it’s rare that I interact with said folks, and choose instead to surround myself with people who are not so wrapped up in the small stuff, like someone using the word “sissy-fied”, because it is really ridiculous to be so uptight. And, I never felt for a moment that you saying what you did was “archaic or obtuse”, just actually rather humorous and to the point. (Though I do think calling someone stupid or unintelligent is in fact mean, or did she not understand the definition of the word “obtuse”?) I was, of course, corrected on this several times by the woman in question, and told she was not being “mean spirited”. Frankly though, her version of nice and mine are VERY different! And, I guess really I should have called it as it truly was, rude, because she was quite rude in her assessment of you, when there could have been a much better and nicer way to state her opinion, without the name calling. But, I suspect that was never her intention, to simply get her opinion on the table, but rather to start the debate which ensued, in the ugly manner in which it unfolded. Oh, but I forgot again, she was never “debating”. So, whatever she wishes to call it… Regardless, there will always be those people in this world who only value their own opinions, and cannot see when they are being mean to others. I believe we call them “bullies”. I was never even so concerned over the fact that she disagreed with your use of the word “sissy-fied”, but more so with the manner in which she felt it necessary to correct you for it. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, in that she is correct. But, her choosing to voice hers by calling someone else stupid and unintelligent for theirs is a bully in my book. Though I am sure this is where she would once again argue that she called you neither of those things, but I think if she is going to use such words, like “obtuse”, she needs to know their true definition, and not take them so lightly. Just because they sound guardedly nicer than simply saying, I think you are stupid, doesn’t make them nicer to say to make her point. It does in fact make her comments and opinions to others stand out to others, like myself, as “mean”. I think I should qualify what I find the definition of “mean” to be here also: “mean” suggests small-mindedness, while “mean spirited” a term I did NOT use, she did, means: “feeling or showing a cruel desire to cause harm or pain”. I never felt she was intentionally seeking to cause harm or pain to you, but I do think she was suggesting “small mindedness” on your part, and I think I used that term exactly as it should have been, and I still stand behind my statement. Anyway, I have committed way too much time to this. I only want you to know, Mr. Etter, there are those of us who are not so close minded to think you using the word “sissy-fied” was an a-front to our children, or anyone else for that matter.

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