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The Male Military Spouse Network

Following the amount of responses I received after releasing my last blog 'ladies only', I thought I should introduce the Male Military Spouse Network (MMSN) to those who don't know it exists.

It's a place where men can chat openly about how they're feeling, without judgement and just connect with with other male military spouses & partners.

I often get messages from male military spouses looking for advice or support or just to chat and it really is humbling to connect with them and talk about our shared experiences.

Now, you may be reading this and just thinking... 'MAN UP' this isn't needed!

Well... I started this blog back in 2019 when I was in the Falklands with my wife after seeing that everything was aimed at the female spouses (often referred to as the military wives). So I wanted to share my experience of being a male spouse.

Fast forward almost 5 years and I hoped things would have improved and become more inclusive, but I still receive messages from male spouses who are feeling isolated, excluded and lonely as a minority group in the military spouse community.

I recently reached out to a few members of the network to ask for their thoughts and experiences of being a male and married to somebody in the military.

I'm not going to mention any names or locations but this is one of the replies that I recieved...

"In hindsight I was naive about how challenging being a male spouse in the military community would be.

I recall my first day on the camp, I met a lady (a female spouse) who advised me that I'd have a hard time as a male partner. The communtiy looks great and I dismissed the comment as something that wouldn't affect me as I'm an outgoing character.

However, I'm now a well-seasoned spouse and I realise just how true those words on day one were. While I've developed good friends on camp, I'm still shocked by how many explicit and implicit gender barriers I continue to encounter.

Male spouses aren't supported nearly as much in my military community as female spouses are. I do get that the ladies have a hard time too and over the years clubs have evolved that provide support networks for female-spouses but the problem for male spouses is how core these non-inclusive clubs remain to the partners social scene.

As a male spouse it really hurts to be denied genuine access to the community's social scene for partners.

l've asked to join some social events and have experienced female-spouses actively defend the need for ladies only events, this is based on how important they have found the support networks personally. Others don't feel strongly eitherway but choose to keep their heads down to avoid disagreeing with others with more social influence.

I'm usually met with empathy when I ask these female spouses to imagine being in my shoes; with all the same needs as the female spouses but being denied access to the support network as I'm male.

On camp, l've yet to meet a female-spouse who's prepared to speak up for promoting genuine inclusion of male spouses into the military partners community.

It's not just a female thing either - serving male military friends who I've discussed this with aren't interested in things changing either. To paraphrase their view: Male spouses are such a minority in the military community and if its not seen / heard to be broken, then there's nothing to fix (whereas the female spouses need all the help they can get)!

The difficulty in getting included by the local community of female spouses has pushed me further afield (sometimes beyond the camp) to join clubs that that are gender inclusive. I really hope more focus is given in the future to male-spouses supporting the military community. They need just as much help as the females!"

This is just one example from the many male spouses that I talk to about their experiences living in the military community, and sadly the lack of inclusion is a common theme across the many different Armed Forces locations.

I did used to think it was just me and my views but since starting the blog back in 2019 I can clearly see that I'm not alone in this. What I'm realising more and more is that us male military spouses need a platform to voice our experiences to try and make some positive change to finally start to feel included in this community.

I have to wonder, will things ever change? Sadly things haven't progressed very much in the past 5 years, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep on trying. Realising that this is a widespread problem shows that it is an overall cultural issue and maybe we just haven't been raising the awareness high enough.

I think it will get better... I had a really good meeting recently with the chair of DAFFYS (Defence Academy Friends and Family) and they were really keen to hear from the male military spouse perspective and were very interested to see how they can become more inclusive.

This isn't just a UK problem though, nor is it specific to an individual unit (although I notice that some are evidently better/worse than others), this is a problem all over the world where the British Forces and their families are posted to.

It's also not a problem for the spouses to fix - yes they need to be on board with it and be on board with change which I think most of them are but inclusion of the minorities in the military spouse community is a complex welfare issue. It requires proactive engagement and leadership to make progress towards more positive inclusion.

So please spread the word that there is a Male Military Spouse Network and I'd encourage people to join, this is the link -

Alternatively, if you don't have Facebook, there is a link to join at the top of this website.

The aspiration is for this to be used as the platform through which male military spouse issues can be voiced, without just being dismissed. It means we can identify any common or recurring themes, where interventions may be required. It has already shown 1 or 2 locations where male military spouse inclusion is particularly bad, and this feedback is currently being consolidated for the appropriate commanders and welfare teams for their consideration.

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