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Military Spouses & First Ladies

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my post about First Women by Kate Andersen Brower. I finished up the book late last month and loved it. It offers a really interesting look at modern first ladies, covering everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Readers got to see how each woman handled motherhood, the spotlight and the responsibility of being married to the most powerful man in America.

As I read through each chapter, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to a lot of these ladies, not because I know what it’s like to be the first lady, but rather because I know what it’s like to be a military spouse. The more I read, the more I realized how much military spouses have in common with these well-known, powerful women.

#Militaryspouses have more in common with first ladies thank you would think. Click To Tweet

Both women give up a lot for their spouses’ career. 

As soon as their husband embarks on the campaign trail, the career paths of future first ladies are altered forever. Sometimes they have to give up their own aspirations entirely or face coming to grips with a drastically different version. Oftentimes, they feel that their duties are a bit token and don’t provide the same amount of satisfaction as their career. Military spouses basically face the same challenges. Finding a job (let alone a career) as a military spouse is an uphill battle.

Then when you factor in moving away from home, not seeing their spouse very often and all the other little changes, military spouses and first ladies know all about sacrifice.

Both women recognize their spouse may be in danger because of his job. 

The stories of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan are real enough to hit close to home for military spouses. Most of the first ladies profiled acknowledged living with a level of fear for their husbands’ safety. They would often kiss their loved one good-bye, not really knowing if they’d see them again. Military spouses do this before every single deployment.

Both women have to go through a significant learning curve when it comes to their husbands’ job. 

First ladies don’t really have any idea of what’s in store for them when they move into the White House and military spouses are oftentimes equally clueless. Both groups have to quickly learn on the job and roll with whatever punches are thrown at them. There isn’t really a manual, but just bits and pieces of advices from those who came before you and your own best judgement.

Both women have to stand up to quite a bit of scrutiny and ideas of what they should be.

A few days ago, there was a quite a bit of media buzz about First Lady Melania Trump’s shoe choice while visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Would anyone give a flying flip if she was just some other person? Probably not. But that’s the cost of being first lady: people suddenly have all sorts of ideas about what you should do and when/how you should do it.

Like it or not, military spouses experience similar attitudes and stereotypes. But gone are the days where both groups embody 1950s housewife ideals. First ladies and military spouses have opinions, dreams and goals and aren’t afraid to share and pursue them.

Both groups of women are some of the most recognized and talked about groups in the country, but unless you’ve been one, most people can’t even begin to understand what their lives are like. After reading this book, I think military spouses should take heart in knowing that the first ladies probably understand them even better than we realize.

Have you ever come across a group of people that you have a lot in common with, even though they seem very different?

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