Editor’s Note: All of the articles in our “Confessions” series are anonymous.
A command spouse is married to someone in a leadership role (commander) within a unit, squadron, battalion, regiment, brigade, group, wing etc. There are no “official duties” or “defined role” for a spouse of a commanding officer. Nor is there a typical commander’s spouse. They are as different as snowflakes.
A generation ago, command spouses were more formal; hosting socials, were expected to understand protocols and etiquette, had calling cards, organized monthly coffees and luncheons. There were built in positions and roles for them on advisory boards, panels and spouses committees. Their “role” was clearly defined with expectations and guidelines; it was an honored tradition.
However, in today’s military, the roles are progressively changing. There are more females in command (hooray!); therefore more male spouses have taken the lead in spouses groups. There are more command spouses who work full-time or chose not to get involved, which is completely acceptable in today’s world. For the most part, the ones who chose to be involved do it with sincerity and concern for the health of the military family.
There are guidelines for command spouses in every branch of service. There are even conferences where these spouses learn more about the military and the issues facing families. They become well versed in Tricare, family readiness and government housing issues. Command spouses are encouraged to “get involved” and become an informal channel to connecting families with services and develop the overall health of a unit, squadron, brigade etc. From family readiness to childcare, a command spouse can positively impact the quality of life for many.
However, it can also be an assignment beleaguered with challenges. Some families of command spouses can feel the strain of command within the family. Most command tours are stressful with high tempo. As a spouse, it’s a fine line to walk between a person and a perceived position. Understanding conflict of interest, perceptions and boundaries are not always obvious.
For a command spouse, it’s also an assignment of pride – the pride you have for your husband or wife. Command is a major achievement and for that alone, it’s considered to be one of the best times of their military life.
Below are combined statements of dozens of command spouses who offered insights into life within the inner circle. Some statements may surprise you, while others may sound familiar in your own life. The hope is to pull back the curtain on how command spouses feel about their perceived role and life as a military spouse.
DISCLAIMER- Please remember these statements are unique to the individual and are personal statements. These do not reflect every command spouse perspective or experience.