Who Is A “Successful” Military Spouse?


When I quit my second great job for my husband’s PCS move, I got to thinking about what career success means for a military spouse.  Success isn’t measured just by having a job.  Success isn’t only attained by staying in one place.

I’m thinking that when it comes to a career, a successful military spouse is one who creates her own story of success. Despite the challenges of military life (PCS’s, deployments, and everything else), a successful spouse is motivated, bold and independent. She understands that being passive will not work to get the career results that she wants.

A successful career spouse builds work to fit into her life, instead of fitting her life around work. She also believes that the most successful companies and people are the ones that give as much as they can.

Success is highly personal. For career-minded and entrepreneur military spouses, it usually means building a professional life that they are proud of that contributes income to their family. They want to make a difference in other’s lives. They also seek careers with the flexibility to move frequently, raise children, and support their husbands when needed.

But how many people did I know in my own circle that qualified as a successful spouse?  That’s why I created the Successful Military Wife site to educate and empower military spouses to create their own success. I decided to launch the site by recognizing 17 extraordinary spouses who have built careers while living the military lifestyle.

I didn’t just want to list their bios.  Instead, I asked each of these women the same question: What things to you do on a daily basis that contribute to your success?  Military writers and online community managers and entrepreneurs replied (including Jacey Eckhart from Military.com).  Their answers demonstrated the habits I could adopt to reach my own success.

I am currently looking for other successful spouses to share their career habits.  I need educators, financial professionals, artists, physical therapists, direct sales consultants, marketing professionals, counselors, lawyers, entrepreneurs.  I want to hear from everyone who has worked out a work/life/love mix that works for them—because that is what success really looks like. If you would like to be featured, or know someone who should be, contact me with this form.

By hearing the stories of those who are uncommonly successful amidst the challenges of military life, I believe we will learn how to do the same.

Kaye Putnam graduated from with a Bachelor’s (BS) degree in Business/Marketing with a Psychology Minor. She started her first business as a senior in high school, which she grew rapidly for 5 years. From that experience, she discovered her passion for marketing small businesses & personal branding and shifted her career focus to work as a consultant to small businesses in Clarksville, TN. After leaving that job due to a recent PCS, Kaye launched the Successful Military Wife website & blog to educate and empower career-minded and entrepreneur military spouses to build “PCS Proof Lives”.


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8 Comments on "Who Is A “Successful” Military Spouse?"

  1. Aleah, Thank you! Enjoy the site!

  2. The definition of "success"… Not just in terms of career, but military marriage in general has really bothered me lately. I left a "successful" in terms of money, personal business at our last duty station after the attempt at geo-baching so I could stay put failed miserably on several accounts. So here I am, post earning my Masters, at a new duty station with a dreadful economy…greater than 15 percent unemployment in the local area, and a true resentment from the hiring managers I have spoken with against hiring military spouses, when so many locals need work. I have never had a difficult time finding a job in our entire military marriage of 18 years…but now here I am at x 8 months unemployed…and when you were "successfully" self employed the four years prior…well you don't get unemployment, and I am sure the IRS will want to audit us now after e dismal earning year I had for 2012. Sigh…."successful" in Army terms of marriage seems to only mean "still" as in "still married". And the only successful entrepreneurs written of define entrepreneurship as Partylite or Avon. I am frustrated. You don't work your behind off working for 15 years in your field, graduate at the top of your Masters class and then just settle for being a "volunteer" through an entire duty assignment. This is the only advice I have gotten anywhere…" well you don't need to work dear, just volunteer". The number one point of contention in our marriage is the tremendous sacrifice I feel I have had to make career wise. It's great to say spouse tax, but let's be realistic…when he retires I will be mid 40s…sure, that's always the most optimal time to jumpstart a career, ageism doesn't exist at all. We need real options. With a Masters in Organizational Leadership I am probably more qualified to be a "coach" then you are…but what if I want a real honest to goodness tenured career? Not Partylite, not Avon, not glorified blogger…a Real Career? I am beginning to think that was made impossible with "I do."

  3. Sabrina – there are successful military spouse entrepreneurs beyond the direct sales variety. I've spoken with non-profit founders, authors, coaches, business consultants, "glorified bloggers" that make 6 figures, and so many more. I hope to feature as many different stories on the site as possible.

    I agree that this lifestyle can be extremely frustrating, especially in terms of our careers. It isn't easy to find a location-independent "tenured" career working for the largest corporations (though, some opportunities exist). However, I encourage you to keep taking action, and focus on the "why" you went into the Organizational Leadership industry. There are more ways than one to help people/businesses in that arena.

    For example, I don't volunteer to "stay busy". I've found it to be a fantastic networking strategy to volunteer my greatest talents (i.e. I'm not going to volunteer as an FRG secretary, I volunteer to help non-profits with social media/advertising). In my experience, paid opportunities present themselves when you put yourself out there and show your best work.

    Good luck!

  4. Kaye, It will be interesting to see your blog develop. So far, I see two entrepreneurs and 15 blogger/author/public speakers/coaches. This is where my frustration comes in. Not everyone is going to aspire to be an author either. Many of us have advanced degrees, some much more specific than mine…I'd like to see you profile a lawyer, a doctor, a senior exec etc. Most of us, will still seek traditional paths…many of us have very large student loan obligations and need to fulfill them…which volunteer work doesn't do. Professional licensure problems plague us, tenure plagues us….we're just plagued. I just learned the hard way any business tied to a location is a huge risk and liability. It will be years until I recoup the loss I took dissolving my business to follow on here. I am certainly interested in reading stories where people have developed actual web based businesses or portable ones. I appreciate your youth and enthusiasm. I will be following you.

  5. also believes that the most successful companies and people are the ones that give as much as they can.

  6. Thank you, Marielle!

  7. I absolutely agree.

    PS: I thought for a long time about leaving the guys out, and the reason I went the "less politically correct" route is because of the exact issue you talk about – women, especially military spouses, sometimes get pressured into giving up their dreams.

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