I’m inclusive, I reach out to the newcomer, I’m supportive of all military spouses and I love my military life. I’m all of these things; UNTIL I’m not. And today it’s been brought to my attention that without realizing it we have once again alienated the male military spouse. Don’t see it? Neither did I…that is until today.
“I’m starting to get the message that men aren’t wanted at these events”.
As I read the message I instantly wanted to insure him that we always include all spouses and began to frantically type… But I stopped before I hit send. One by one flyers for various events came across my feed. Without exception the verbiage was written to the female military spouse. Whether it was an “All branches luncheon for Officer Wives”, a “Womens Conference open to all military spouses” or any of the other local and national marketing I’ve been able to uncover in the last hour there is definitely something that we are NOT doing.
We are not making the male military spouses feel welcome. And not because we don’t want them there nor because we aren’t sensitive to their needs. It’s because we aren’t thinking about that segment of the population when we design our flyers and invitations. The result is an entire group of spouses who feel ouster-sized and unwelcome. Now to be fair and balanced they often don’t come or when they do, they don’t come back. It’s a problem that needs action on both sides.
So how do we fix it?
My initial reaction was “create a male spouse event”, but let’s be real how am I supposed to know exactly what a male spouse is looking for? I am “man” enough to admit that is way out of my expertise. So no…it’s not about more events (although I do think an event put on by male spouses that has me doing a keynote about how to REALLY understand your wife with a cigar bar and home brew competition would be AWESOME). How do we do a better job at bringing male spouses into the fold and making them feel welcome? Once again I believe that it’s not about the big stuff, it’s the day to day little things that will add up to make all the difference.
Here are some great places to start:
- Change the verbiage:
- Instead of wives, wife and girlfriend substitute spouse. Officer Spouse, Military spouse, Army spouse…you get the point.
- Have a Conference or a Spouses Conference rather than a woman’s or Army Wife conference
- Invite male spouses to sit on your planning committee/board and be open to changing things up and doing things differently.
- Run your content/copy by them to insure it’s speaking to them not alienating them.
- Include male spouse entrepreneurs in your inner circle.
- Reach out to veteran rockstars like Jeremy Hilton, Chris Pape, Dave Etter and the other male spouses who are doing some incredible things and integrate them into your events, projects & outreach efforts. Their perspective is incredibly powerful and many have important and relevant messages to share.
As I wrap this up, I do have to say something to all the men out there. If you want things to change, the quickest way to make that happen is to get involved and speak up. Go to and create events on your installation, be part of the planning committee and take action to help make things better. Be “in it”, be a part of the process and I promise that flyer will get changed before it gets out to any distro list. Complaining about feeling left out from the sidelines doesn’t fly – nor does it help to change anything.
How do I know this is true? Because over the last 4 years I’ve seen how male spouses can change how things are done. Both Chris Pape and Jeremy Hilton have called me to the carpet for using “girl language” and pointed out ways in which the male spouses don’t feel welcome. And I listened. They did not complained but rather made suggestions on how things could be better and work hard to give the male spouses a voice as they advocate for the entire military community.
Was I mad at them when they broached various topics with me or told me I really needed to hold off on the tea party and bon bon references? ABSOLUTELY NOT! In fact their feedback and input has made me better not only personally as a military spouse, but professionally as a speaker/author.
It’s time both sides stepped up and made an effort to listen, adjust and work together to create the change that we all want. An inclusive and strong military spouse community that helps one another get through the difficult moments and is there to celebrate the homecomings and incredible moments that only this lifestyle can bring. We are better together.
I’d welcome any tips and suggestions that can help us better support you!
Pop them into the comments below!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author, lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Risk? are go to resources for families and those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com