Warrior Ways: Explorations in Modern Military Folklore

By Eric A. Eliason; Tad Tuleja | Go to book overview

8
Making Lemonade
Military Spouses’ Worldview as a Coping Mechanism

Kristi Young

Oh, spouses are in the military!…You’re marrying an institution here.

—Canadian general (quoted in Harrison and LaLiberte, 1997)

Military life is what you make it.

—Lindsay Madsen, wife of a US Air Force officer

In Wives and Warriors: Women and the Military in the United States and Canada, editor Laurie Weinstein writes that when their spouses are present, military wives “must ascribe to the norms of femininity (be passive, submissive, and dependent on men), yet when the men go on deployment, these same wives are expected to be leaders and decision makers” (Weinstein and White 1997, xvii). The psychological conflict inherent in this situation is a significant factor in what she and coeditor Christie White see as many military wives’ negativity about the armed services—rigidly structured institutions that rely implicitly on spouses’ unpaid labor and that see spouses themselves as “shadow enlistees” who must function as “perpetually accommodating” multitaskers (Harrison and LaLiberte 1997, 38–39). Laurie Weinstein shares an anecdote from her own experience: “Years ago I attended what would be one of my first of over fifty Navy parties. As a newly engaged bride-to-be, I was eager to meet everyone and make a good impression. As our engagement was announced to one captain’s wife, she looked at another officer’s wife and said, ‘Should we tell her?’ Ten years later, I know

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