Negotiating the military lifestyle: the spouse's experience

This paper examines the experiences of the spouse within the military system and how she negotiates her role as part of this culture. Of key importance is the process by which she constructs this role for herself and the meanings she attributes to it. The findings of this study reveal that a spouse's ability to define a sense of accomplishment and purpose is linked to her ability to adapt to the structural confines of military life. Findings indicate that all spouses develop an adaptability strategy in order to face the demands of this lifestyle, although the process for achieving such a strategy varied. While some spouses found ways to work through the obstacles they came up against, whether due to their ability or the resources available to them, others found alternative sources of success and self-fulfillment, such as contributing to their husband's career. The spouse's individual agency to make choices for her involvement within this structure was evident with all who participated.