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What is air force life like for the wife/married?

Discussion in 'The US Air Force Forum' started by bamarammin87, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. I just want to hear from some folks here on what life is like in the air force for married couples, and maybe hear from some guys wives. Is it an alright life for wives? I had thought about it before, going in with a degree in officer enlistment, and just wondered how it is for married couples, how much time they get to spend with their wife, and what life is like on base. I would appreciate any info yall have, from relatives or first person experience. Thanks guys,

  2. afcop724

    afcop724 Free at last

    Nov 9, 2008
    You will move around a lot, officers don't usually stay in one place for more than 2 years. As for being married, in my career field at least most of us are either divorced or really want to be.

  3. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files
    I am also Security Forces.

    Pilotkitten (my wife, who posts here too) answers, "It sucks".

    In our career field, 10-16 hour days are normal. Schedule changes with no notice are normal. Working days/mids/swings regardless if you have a kid in preschool and your wife also works. Normal. (they do try and move you around if they can, but that depends on the unit).

    Military wives as a species tend to drive PK nuts. Working gates, they drive ME nuts (ewww a gun...... yeah stupid woman, this is a military base).

    As an officer....yeah. Don't plan on ever living in the same place terribly long.
  4. PilotKitten

    PilotKitten Mrs. MrMurphy

    Aug 28, 2003
    Texas Hill Country
    All I can do is give you the enlisted wife perspective which isn't that great. From the few officer's wives I talk to, they have it a smidge better but can still be harder.

    For example, some officer's wives are expected to be pretty involved in the spouse's organizations and such. In a planning/organizing role as well as personal outreach to wives of deployed airman, etc etc. This is usually the higher ranking ones though, say Major/Lt. Col and up. Generalizing everything here of course. Things will vary from base to base and command to command.

    I spoke with an officer's wife a few days ago whose husband had been prior enlisted and she said the differences were practically night and day. When he was enlisted, leave just was not given often, if at all. As an officer he doesn't have to jump through as many hoops to get it so they have a lot more opportunities for travel and spending time with the family than enlisted do (from her perspective at least).

    Murphy's been in almost 4 years and I would have to say that the AF has definitely had more time with him than I have. Plus, there are the days when he comes home aggravated/upset because of something that happened at work and just wants to be left alone for a bit. Which is fine, I understand it and all, but those days still take my husband "away" from me even if he's here.

    I would also have to say that I really despise about 95% of the military spouses I meet or interact with online. I've never seen a larger group of people that feel they're "entitled" to something for their "sacrifices". Doesn't matter the rank, they're generally all that way. Also, a very large percentage of them are vociferously liberal and damn, it gets on my nerves.

    Jobs are hard to get. Most wives are nurses, teachers, or stay at home moms simply because those are the most popular jobs anywhere you'll be stationed. A lot of couple make the decision to do the geo-bachelor thing while the guy goes off where ever the military sends them, while the wife/mom stays in one spot so as not to deal with uprooting kids and all the hassles of moving. It has it's advantages/disadvantages and is different for every couple.

    I haven't lived on base so can't comment much with that.

    Anywho, it's definitely not for everyone that's for sure. Some women can handle the military life and some can't. I think I handled it fairly well but it's a crappy roller-coaster ride and I'll be damn glad to be gone.
  5. Thanks for the input guys/ladies. I really appreciate it.
  6. afcop724

    afcop724 Free at last

    Nov 9, 2008
    Wherever they send you, be nice to the cops.:steamed:
  7. AF-Odin


    Oct 12, 2007
    Central Texas
    Having grown up as an AF-Brat, spent a total of 31 years myself in the AF (3 Reserve and 28 active duty), and with my younger daughter married to an AF officer, I have had a LOT of opportunity to witness the way the AF treats spouses.

    As stated by some here, there are some really long hours, days, weeks, and sometimes years of separation. It takes someone that is independent and not afraid to do things on their own, from paying bills, to home repair, to make a good AF spouse. The length of assignments vary. In my time I went from a short of 3 month TDY enroute for school to a long of 8 years in one place (my last assignment). Most assignments were about 3 years (11 total assignments in my career). If your spouse is invested in a career, it can be very hard. Even with the traditional military spouse careers of teacher and nurse, it can be difficult to move up because they are constatly the new person who gets the worst class (teacher) or the worst shift (nurse). Being in the military is a SHARED experience and both parties have to recognize the sacrifice each makes.

    The Army has a quote that they recruit Soldiers, but retain families. Having as much association as I do with the AF, I have been a witness to the Army as I spent my last 8 years of active duty with the Army, still work for the Army (almost 7 years) and my son is an Active Duty Army officer. My considered opinion is that the AF is MUCH more family friendly than the Army and I don't even want to think about the seaprations with the Navy. having been around the marines quite a bit in Okinawa, they truly believe in an unmarried force due to their rotation schedles, "floats", and lack of accompanied overseas assignments compared to other services.

    As for Pilotkitten's comment about entitlement, I unfortunately have to agree with her, but in my experience, I believe the percentage to be a bit lower. However, it is not just the spouses that sometimes act like the are entitled, but the service member too. This post is not to discuss why one generation had it harder than another, but when spouses don't get a call or email almost every day from their service member who is deployed to a combat zone, they call the rear detachment commander and make his life hell. Then they act like they are the only one with a loved one deployed and when some people try to help, those people are trated like C--- because they (or their spouse) is not currently deployed---never mind the tours in SEA, Desert Storm, or anywhere else any any other time. Then, service members and spouses seem to think that because they have been or will be deployed that routine duties can be ignored and having to work a weekend or late is a serious imposition rather than simply part of the total deal. ((Sorry for the rant))

    Anyway, I also agree that it is not the life for everyone and those that make it through are a special breed.
  8. JimBianchi

    JimBianchi Da Da CLM

    Feb 15, 2006
    Las Vegas
    After 23yrs in the service (19+ AF) I have a little experience.

    IMO, the younger the family, the greater the divorce rate. (#1 reason was money. Followed closing by infidelity and the wife missing here mom and dad. My first wife and I fought about money and missing her family. I don’t miss her.)

    Make sure she works in a career she likes. This gives her, her own money and self-worth and doubles your income. Pay sucks at the lower ranks.

    Of all the services the AF treats families the best. (AF spends many millions of dollars more each year on family services than any other military branch, but the Navy is catching up.)

    Your time with your spouse will depend entirely on your career field and the base you are stationed at. Most day-to-day desk jobs are 8 to 5, M-F. About a third of the AF works nights. For a long time the Air Force has tried to keep deployments to 4 months in the Sandbox and one year out. But in many cases they have failed. If you change duty stations just before or after a deployment is due, you could go twice. As a newbie, expect to go TDY within 6-months of arriving at your first assignment.

    Before you sign on the dotted line, get a career job reservation in writing. These are specific. Nowhere on the contract will it say OPEN GENERAL or any version of that phrase. (That phase, 9 times out of 10, means Security Forces)

    Attracting high quality enlisted recruits (those with degrees) is a tough job for any recruiter, but they still need to recruit Security Forces by the thousands, so be warned. (I was SF for 16 years and loved it, but I'm a grunt at heart always. In 1983 I was the only SF volunteer in my whole class of 75 people. All others were OPEN GENERAL or washed out from other schools.)

    Joining the service was the best thing I ever did. (Retired from the service in 2002)

    You and your wife will only get out of it what you put into it. Stay positive and up beat and you will do fine.
  9. First Sgt

    First Sgt

    Nov 10, 2008
    Florence, SC
    The military, and in specific the Air Force, is NOT for everyone. If you approach it in a positive manner, seek the positives, build on the positives, it will be a positive experience whether you spend one enlistment or a career. If you dwell on the negatives, you will be miserable for whatever length of time you stay. There is no job in life, be it military or civilian, that will leave you feeling "peaches and cream" 24/7. It's about attitude, goals, feeling of achievement and all of the other things that make one successful. Above all, your spouse MUST understand that they are no longer #1 in your life. That pill alone is very difficult to swallow and it takes a strong relationship to understand and support each other in the endeavors of a military career. It's not about the money, it's a choice of life and allegiance to God and Country. As cliche as that may sound, read the Oath of Allegiance and see what you swear to:

    " STATUTE Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following
    ''I, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
    So help me God!"

    For those that have made the choice of an enlistment, and have found it wasn't for them, then the best thing they can do for themselves and their family is pursue their goals and ambitions in another venue. They did their time, hopefully Honorably, and I will always respect their choices to move on. For those that make it a career, they may never be rich monetarily, but their riches come through their service to their country and their contributions towards the preservations of freedom for all of us.

    Good luck on your choice! God Bless Our Men and Women in Uniform regardless of the branch of service.
  10. Thanks so much guys. I've learned alot from this thread.
  11. PilotKitten

    PilotKitten Mrs. MrMurphy

    Aug 28, 2003
    Texas Hill Country
    Amen! Murphy's poor commander was "forced" to call me several times because some wives complained they weren't being kept "in the loop" enough during a deployment. :upeyes: I finally just told him point-blank, "I know your number and if I need anything, I will call you. I know you have better **** to do than touch base with every spouse to make sure their feelings aren't hurt because you're actually doing your REAL job." He was rather grateful that I "got it".

    +1 to whomever said being independent was a plus. A lot of military guys are right out of high school and so are their wives so they freak out at the tiniest of life's issues. While I hadn't lived completely on my own (had money coming in from family), I had previously been totally responsible for figuring out how to pay my bills, fix my car and any other number of things before we got married.

    From what I have gathered, the AF is generally more "family friendly" than the other branches but it's also the (generally speaking) least "warrior-like" so the military members and their spouses will often reflect this attitude. Such as Murphy's anecdote about "ewww a gun". So be prepared for that and try not to roll your eyes too often.

    One last "warning"... for the love of God and all that is holy, don't let her register at any military spouse message forums. Either her head will explode from all the stupidity or she'll drink the kool-aid and be brainwashed herself. Either way, it's a bad thing. I can't count how many nights I've contemplated asking the doc for blood pressure meds for when I surfed around those boards.
  12. JimBianchi

    JimBianchi Da Da CLM

    Feb 15, 2006
    Las Vegas

    I've read some of it too. Crazy doesn't even come close.

    Thank you Al Gore for inventing the internet near the end of my military career instead of the begining.

    I don't know if I would have survived!
  13. loglat

    loglat Virtual Deputy

    Aug 31, 2006
    Southwest Asia
    It's bad, and getting worse. Deployments getting longer and more frequent, but the monday through friday is pretty normal when you're home. Everyone I know, like AFcop said, is either divorced, wants to be, or might as well be based on how they act/talk etc. One caveat though, I think most marriages that are strong enough to last outside the military, will last in the military as well, and vise versa. It just might put an end to things sooner. Marriage aint what it used to be =(
  14. Glock13


    Jul 9, 2003
    Boston, MA
    If you go in as an Officer, most likely your first four years will be at the same base. Unless you are a pilot, navigator or a few other AFSCs, your initial commitment will be 4 years. So you could feasibly serve out your entire AF career at one base. After that, it is around two year rotations. Depending on what your wife does, it can be easy or hard. My wife is a pharmacist, so it is not that hard for her. I don't have children yet, so I can't comment on that other than that I'm sure any moving will be a challenge.
  15. Ralff


    Sep 10, 2008
    Central FL
    My wife loves to browse these. She get's on the "Air Force Wives and Girlfriends" on cinchouse or something like that. It's just a bunch of grumpy old hens bickering seems like to me.

    As for the OP, it really does depend on what the spouses job is. I am very fortunate to have a job that, while it does send me TDY often, I never am out of pocket for more than 2-3 weeks. We haven't been married that long so she's still in the "scared of doing something wrong because it's the military" phase. Hopefully she won't start getting the "I'm entitled to ..." attitude. But if the spouse is up to the task, it's great. Free health care for all!
  16. Dean


    Nov 4, 2006
    Broke, lonely, and sensory deprived, possibly.
    Mainly, military life is what you yourself make of it.

    I never regarded military benefits as "free", but you don't have to pay out of pocket.

    Plan on needing to work to have a good quality of life as a Service wife. Be an RN nurse, if you can. Even an LPN at the base hospital would be a wonderful job as far as income for a service family.
    Of course, a lot of young families need someone home for child care.
    That's sometimes hard scrabble. I grew up on Air Force bases.
    Sometimes the Nikon had to go to the pawn shop.

    Transfers can be rough, and so can unaccompanied tours, especially with two wars on. I give soldiers the worst case scenario. I don't like telling people to expect hearts and flowers in the service. Good luck. :drillsgt:
  17. Thanks, I'm not so sure what the wife thinks about the idea yet.
  18. PilotKitten

    PilotKitten Mrs. MrMurphy

    Aug 28, 2003
    Texas Hill Country
    I've long been banned from there. :wavey:
  19. question mark

    question mark

    Sep 3, 2007
    Most everyone here has hit the nail on the head. There are/is good support groups for wifes with deployed spouses and such on the base. There is good programs for the wife and kids to get into. That said they have to be willing to use them, and it seems the ones that use them are probably the same women that would be fine without them.

    I think the biggest thing I've notices is that if your wife "needs" you, forget about it. If she isn't self sufficient and can't take care of the kids, mow the lawn, take the dog to the vet, and cook dinner all in the same day there might be a problem. Let me summarize,

    If your wife loves you great

    If your wife wants to be with +1

    If your wife needs you this might not be the type of job that would be beneficial for your marriage.