Soldiers’ perceptions of military spouses’ career experiences

Ann Hergatt Huffman, Nora Dunbar, Alyssa G. Billington, Satoris S. Howes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The current study provided an exploratory qualitative examination of the issues surrounding career progression for military spouses from the perspective of the soldier. Utilizing family systems theory and spillover theory we explored the soldier’s perceptions of the impact that the military lifestyle has on a military spouse’s opportunities for employment and advancement within their work. Data from 50 soldiers (90% enlisted; 90% male; 59% White) whose spouses were employed as civilians were collected during 11 focus groups. We conducted an inductive analysis on transcripts of the focus groups to guide the discovery of themes. Three major themes surrounding military personnel and their spouses’ employment progression emerged: soldiers’ perceptions that (1) the military can negatively influence the spouses’ career progression through frequent and/or unpredictable relocations, physical distance, and the mentality that military comes first; (2) there are benefits associated with spouse employment; and (3) the spouses’ career type impacts the success of their career. Notably, soldiers view their spouses’ careers as important, and acknowledge that the military way of life can retard spouse career progression, depending upon the type of job or career the spouse holds. Soldiers suggest less frequent relocations and consideration of spouses’ jobs would improve spouse career progression and improve solider and family well-being. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalMilitary Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2019


  • Military spouse
  • career progression
  • job attitudes
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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