Man, Myth, Legend: The Male MilSpouse


“The male military spouse? What is that? There is no such thing!”

Au contraire, but there is.

Believe it or not there is a fairly large population of male military spouses, or MANspouses as I like to refer to “US” as. Between the five branches of active duty service there are approximately 100,000 of us men married to female service members. Sure some of those numbers include dual military couples, but that population comprises only about 35-45 percent of the marriages of female service members. Here at Fort Riley, Kan. we have over 500 civilian men married to female service members. I am sure such a large population at one specific installation is rare, but never the less, there is a larger population of us than many would think. But where are they all?

When I became a military spouse I decided to do like many MILspouses do and become active in our military community. I figured that would be the best way for me to meet other stay at home dads and men married to female service members because I knew I wasn’t the only one doing this. That was great in theory, but the truth of the matter is the guys just don’t participate as much in our community as the ladies do. Why is that?

Let’s face it, the MANspouse is an EXTREME minority. Female service members who are married make up right around 10 percent of the marriages in the military. So there just isn’t that many of us in comparison. But the simple truth is that at an installation like here at Fort Riley where you have over 500 civilian men married to female service members, you would think there would be more of a presence by us guys. Unfortunately that is not the case. And in many ways I don’t blame the guys for avoiding many of the social events our military community hosts. Especially the events geared towards the MILspouse.

There are very few instances where a MILspouse gathering is promoted as being for females ONLY. These days with political correctness and the need to be socially accepting of all, there are very few gatherings that will advertise to ladies only. But that doesn’t mean they are offering ANYTHING that appeals to us guys. I mean really, what guy wants to participate in an FRG “girls night” out at a spa(although I will admit a pedicure is AWESOME!)? And even if it’s at a more neutral venue like a MILspouse night out for drinks, common courtesy would keep most of us men from going out for a drink with someone else’s wife. And if that isn’t an issue for a man, the simple fact it was really a girls night out would keep most of us from going unless it was with a group we knew.

The MILspouse clubs for officers spouses and enlisted spouses are no longer “Wives Clubs”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are enticing the MANspouse to come hang out. Let’s move past the fact most of these events have themes like “tea party”, “wacky hat”, “craft night” and “wine and chocolate night”(beer and wings maybe). If we put those themes out of our mind let’s think about how fun it is for the average guy to go hang out with 30 women or more. That would be like asking a woman to join 30 guys she doesn’t know at the local sports bar for a game she knows nothing about. Sure some of us are willing to step out of our comfort zones, but to what extent?

I personally get involved in as much as I possibly can within the MILspouse community(and have been extremely welcomed by ALL). While there are many great social benefits for me becoming involved, it is mainly for networking purposes. But I won’t lie, a lot of the stuff I do is a drag. Most of it is awesome and very beneficial, but there are times when I am wondering what in the heck I am doing there.

So do I think that every MILspouse social gathering needs to work on being less gender biased? Do I think all these MILspouse events need to change what they do to serve us MANspouses? Let me answer this as best I can, and I hope SpouseBuzz doesn’t get mad at me for saying it like this, but HELL NOOOOO!

The women who have created an incredible network for MILspouses do not need to change a thing. At least not at this point. Until guys actually start making a presence in our community I would not ask them to change a thing. I don’t want you to change your “Women’s Conference” to a “MILspouse Conference” just so three others guys and I have the option to attend. At an event where 200+ women are served well with the way things are, I wouldn’t want that to change just to be politically correct. At least not until more MANspouses emerge from the sidelines and take an active role in our community.

I would like to see the MANspouse recognized more. I do want to see us guys have some gatherings catered to us. But whose job is it to do that? It’s ours, the MANspouse.

Being a MANspouse I am gathering as much information as I possibly can about us. I am doing my best to track down every article written about us, and most of them are written by us. One thing I commonly hear in all these articles is the trouble it is for men to fit in within the MILspouse community. The MANspouse will gripe and complain how nothing at the gatherings is “for them,” but they won’t show up to assist in a change. The MANspouse will say he wants to feel part of our community rather than neglected and overlooked, but he won’t leave the comfort of his home. The MANspouse will say he wants something he can call his own, but he won’t start anything.

I believe us MANspouses NEED something all to our own. We need guys at each installation who are getting together on a regular basis. I would say to “support” one another, but we know guys don’t want “support.” We just want to get together, grill some brats, drink some beers(or if you are like me sweet tea) and catch a game or play a game. But we want to do those things with guys who get us.

If I call a guy up and use the word “potty,” I don’t want him to laugh at me because I speak toddler talk as my first language. Some may say us guys need to just get over it all and get involved in the MILspouse community as a whole, but there is something to be said about being around people who are like minded and share similar interests (btw — by definition that is a clique). For example PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel), MCCW (Military Council of Catholic Women),  EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) families, ethnic groups, etc.

I do believe it is vital for the MANspouse to form his own sense of community, but even more so I believe he needs to become active in the MILspouse and military community that is already there. We need to step out of our comfort zones and take part in the plethora of classes that the military offers us to help us become more resilient. We must be willing to step up to the challenge of being the first guy at our installation to get involved in some of the philanthropist groups out there that the female spouses have more or less perfected (like official installation spouse groups).

I am always amazed when I hear guys who have been living the life as a MANspouse for a decade or so that will say they only met a handful of other MANspouses. Me, I have been doing this for two years and I would say I have been put in contact with over 100 MANspouses in that time. Maybe it is because I am looking. Maybe it is because I am willing to step up and step out. Whatever the case, it’s “game on” from here on out for me. I am going to stand up for the MANspouse until someone else does. I mean really, someone has to.

Wayne Perry and his wife reside in Fort Riley, Kansas where his wife serves as a combat medic in the US Army. His wife enlisted in 2010 and they were married in 2006. They have two children, ages 2 and 11. Wayne is currently a stay at home dad. He blogs under the name TheArmyWife(DUDE) and you can find it here. Wayne is honored to be part of the core team for the Army Wife Network. He also is one of the founders of the group MANning the Homefront that works to connect  MANspouses. The group at Fort Riley meets once a month for dinner  just for the guys and at least once a month for either a family or MANly event. They hope to see similiar groups start across the globe at all military installations. You can find the facebook page for MANning the Homefront here.

About the Author

Wayne Perry
Wayne Perry is a male military spouse (or as he likes to say, a MANspouse). He and his wife have been married for nearly seven years and she has been in the Army for three. Wayne is a stay-at-home dad with two boys that keep him extremely busy. Wayne is also an advocate for MANspouses, inspiring them to get involved in the military community and support each other. Through the facebook page MANning the Homefront he hopes to connect MANspouses with one another.

25 Comments on "Man, Myth, Legend: The Male MilSpouse"

  1. I went to a joint armed forces event on Friday where there was one MANspouse present, the same one that attends all the AF spouse functions held each month. He is there and happy to be…sounds like you both are of the same frame of mind. Wish more of you would come to events…we can all learn from each other!

  2. @Heidi….you mean the one titled "The Joint Armed Forces Wives Luncheon" (official title), per…. I agree with a lot of what Wayne said, but come on….I just can't bring myself to attend when the name makes it clear they don't really want you there.

    • Jeremy, if it specifically says ”wife”, then no, we shouldn’t go. And we should make it known why. If they want us there, then they better change the name. If they want an exclusive group, that’s cool, I kinda want one too for us guys. But something tells me this group may just be behind the times.

      I say we start a movement of burning boxer shorts instead of bras.

    • That would be the one. Didn't stop another manspouse from attending, and if the powers that be don't realize the name offends you, then you need to say something. Women have been in those positions before, so we know how it feels, but sometimes we just don't think about how it would alienate a population since historically speaking, we are the ones usually alienated!

      The name dates back 34 years. It has nothing to do with not wanting you there. If you have a solution, then I can get you in contact with the committee so changes can be implemented.

      It would mess up the acronym though. I kid…I kid….

      • Thanks for your thoughtful response Heidi. I think everyone agrees that the name should be changed, so as you are able, any help would be appreciated. See below for more information.

        • I contacted a committee member and your request should be in the hot wash for the event.

  3. I am a volunteer mentor for COMPASS, a program of Naval Services FamilyLine, and we would LOVE to have ManSpouses join our sessions! How can I find Navy ManSpouses in the DC area to encourage them to come to one of our COMPASS classes and share their knowledge & experiences with other Navy spouses??

  4. I love it Wayne! You have become the official MANspouse in my eyes:) Would love to have you do a guest post on my Your Yeoman site. I am a small business but starting to get my name out there and would love to promote as many MANspouses as I can! Great job!
    Lori Clinton

    • Lori, don't kid yourself, there are some much more quality and official type MANspouses out there. Kinda like that dude Jeremy a few comments up. And Tim Blake. And Chris Pape of Macho Spouse. I just happen to have a big mouth. 8>D

  5. Hey Wayne, grow a pair and get a job! You sound like a chick.

  6. Try being a former soldier, husband to a soldier, father of two and the Family Readiness Support Assistant for an all male unit. I’m usually the token male at all the installation spouses events.

    • Ricky, my buddy Anthony used to have a very similar job. Although i am not sure when the battalion he was over consisted of. He loved it. Especially because it put him around other men who he could cut up with. That's a luxury the SAHD lacks. Hopefully with your position you will connect with other guys via other FRSA's and let them know how important it is for them to be involved. I am sure there is a dude at your post who would benefit greatly from getting to know you.

  7. The best way to make a change when it comes to family readiness events is to show up at the meetings and speak up. Each planned event does not meet everyone's needs and it seems there will always be someone who is not happy with a specific event. Take for example, me, I do not drink wine , I do not like the pamper yourself themes ( ie. spas and manipedis) and I usually do not attend events that do not include kids because it is rare that my husband is available to hold the fort while I am gone. What I do, is go to the meetings and put in my 2 cents. Sometimes plans get tweaked because I am not the only one speaking up and sometimes they don't get changed. That's what happens when you are trying to accommodate a diverse group of people and I can't expect to have my needs met every time. cont

    • The family readiness program is constantly evolving and it will continue to do so as things change. Before Desert Storm, families really weren't all that important to the powers that be and it is amazing how much things have changed since, especially during the past 10 years. Now we have an abundance of family geared programs that do their best to ensure that military families have the skills needed to navigate military life. Things may not be perfect, but as long as we speak out about what matters to us, change will continue.

      • Mel, I couldn't agree with you more about how to make change happen. And that is why myself and a group of other men ARE speaking up. Some still have a hard time with the FRG thing, but even some ladies can't get over the negative and wrongly attached stigma it has. I thought I tried stressing my feelings about how important it is for guys to "step up and step out", but maybe that didn't come out as well as I hoped. Anywho…. I agree with you. **Now if we could only get events to stop being called "wives" whatever, then maybe guys wouldn't think they weren't welcome**

  8. Your ignorance is astounding. Please go troll elsewhere or contribute to the discussion.

  9. Actually, plenty of female military spouses also feel poorly served by the range of activities that speak to a narrow understanding of military spouse time and interests. Therefore, I disagree with your assessment; the community needs to change to welcome and include the diversity of military spouses that do in fact exist, whether they be male, female, people of color, or different sexual orientations, working or stay-at-home. We are all poorly served if any of our ranks feel excluded.

    • TheWoman…. I thought I was deliberate enough in my wording. Maybe it slipped by unnoticed so I will share again two key points I tried making.

      1)"So do I think that every MILspouse social gathering needs to work on being less gender biased? Do I think all these MILspouse events need to change what they do to serve us MANspouses? Let me answer this as best I can, and I hope SpouseBuzz doesn’t get mad at me for saying it like this, but HELL NOOOOO!"

      • Clearly you missed my point, many women similarly feel underserved. Therefore, the community as a whole needs to improve. I realize there are difference with being male and female, but the assumption of the article is that the female culture of military spouses works for women. For many women it DOES NOT. So I think it would be beneficial if all military spouses were able to feel like they had community. I know that over the past decade I have felt excluded despite my best efforts and I am sorry, but I think we are all stronger when we actually band together rather than giving paltry lip service to community.

    • 2)"I do believe it is vital for the MANspouse to form his own sense of community, but even more so I believe he needs to become active in the MILspouse and military community that is already there. We need to step out of our comfort zones and take part in the plethora of classes that the military offers us to help us become more resilient. We must be willing to step up to the challenge of being the first guy at our installation to get involved in some of the philanthropist groups out there that the female spouses have more or less perfected (like official installation spouse groups)."

      Ghandi said it best, "Be the change in the world you want to see." That is something any underserved demographic should adopt. Kind of like we are trying to do.

  10. MsCamo…. I don't think being "the guy" keeps too many guys from getting involved. I think if guys felt like they would be useful and add something to the group you may actually see them get more involved. I think it is more the chit chat and female oriented themes that detract us guys. Plus not feeling like we would have anyone to relate to within the group.

  11. Lance, that sucks dude. I totally feel for ya. Feel free to check out our facebook page if you want. Maybe you can connect with some other guys and ya never know, there may be someone at your installation on our page. If not you can join in the fun making fun of me. Being the fat kid has made it easy to take being picked on. And what dude doesn't enjoy some smack talk? Here is the link to our page.!/MAN

  12. Thanks for sharing! The video about reintegration was brilliant! I wish I had some of that advice a few deployments ago. It was a rough go, but we made it through. I'm glad to see information like this being shared.

    If you have any Navy husbands or fiancés in your FB group, we'd love to have them join us at COMPASS. There are sessions at most Navy installations. If near DC, our next session starts on the 15th.

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