A woman with a husband who is serving in the Army is often said to be an “Army wife.” Military culture can be very insular and the spouses and dependent children of people who serve in the military become a part of that culture by association. There are a number of social expectations for Army wives, especially for women married to officers, and women married to members of the army are commonly expected to be willing to make sacrifices for the careers of their husbands.
Some Army wives have careers of their own. It is possible for members of the military to be married to each other, and Army wives may engage in a variety of other careers as well. One problem for an Army wife pursuing her own career is that because her husband may be reassigned or deployed, she can be forced to relocate. Women trying to establish careers may find it difficult to relocate constantly, especially if they have professional certifications that may require recertification in a new place of residence.
Wives of officers are expected to assist with entertaining and socializing. Officers with wives who are perceived as aloof or standoffish can have difficulty progressing in the ranks. While rankings are theoretically merit-based, recommendations from superior officers count, and superior officers consider not just someone's ability as a soldier, but also someone's connection with the community, when deciding who to recommend for promotion. A married officer who is known for hosting social events, being friendly on base and in the community, and participating in local events is less likely to be passed over for promotion. Supportive spouses are also considered when evaluating whether or not someone is likely to stay in the army in the long term.
Life for an Army wife can be stressful. Service in the Army is dangerous and when partners are on deployment, maintaining constant communication can be a challenge. Returning soldiers may be stressed and sometimes have difficulty adjusting to life on base or in a civilian community. An Army wife who supports and helps her partner can be an important part of successful reintegration after a deployment.
Marriage is a partnership, and some people struggle to make marriages work with the military as a third party. Some Army wives find reassignments and other hardships associated with the military very difficult, as they are constantly forced to establish new networks of friends. This can become even more complicated when children are involved, as an Army wife may be concerned about creating a stable home and school life for her children.