A woman, husband, and dog walking in a field

Do you have any kids?  This is the dreaded question that many frequently face, even more so as a military spouse. For some reason, society thinks if you are a military spouse, you are very fertile and drive a minivan packed with kids, but that’s not always the case.

There are many military couples out there who want to have children, but are struggling due to infertility. There isn’t always a place for childless couples in the military community, nor any type of intentional support. Trust me, I have searched for it and came up empty every single time.  Most support can be found outside of the military community.

So, what is it really like being a military couple without children?  First of all, we don’t always feel like we fit in, no matter how hard we try.  I have plenty of military spouse mom friends and there is nothing wrong with that until a group conversation starts about kids and I stand there dumbfounded like, yes, “my uh dog….” What do you say when you don’t know how it is to be in their shoes?  You don’t say anything. You just stand there awkwardly, nod, and smile. Second, we don’t dislike being around children.  We LOVE children and so desperately want a child of our own. The kid-centric activities in the military world can be hard to bear for couples who are going through the struggle to have children. Lastly, it can get really lonely. It’s hard to find others who are going through a similar situation so you can build strength together through the circumstances. When you have that one friend who truly can empathize with your situation, it seems a little less isolating.

How can you support childless military couples?

1-Incorporate more pet friendly events into Military Family Programming. Pets are a big part of many people’s lives. For those without children, they are our children. We absolutely love when we are able to bring our fur babies to events.

2-Create marriage retreats specifically aimed at couples without children. While I know childcare is mostly provided at many sponsored marriage retreats, the topics can still be centered around parenting and couples with children. Retreats that focus on couples without children would be highly beneficial to the many couples that make up the military community. This will allow them to find others who are on a similar path.

3-Fund support groups for couples struggling with infertility in the military. Military couples on an infertility journey face extreme challenges and need support. Due to infertility being such a touchy topic, it feels like a disease that no one wants to touch or talk about. Meanwhile, couples are struggling behind the scenes. Infertility is tough on your marriage, on your self-worth, and can be severely impacted by field days, TDY’s, and deployment. That adds another layer of stress to the already difficult circumstance.

4-Don’t make family days mandatory. Give us the personal choice to decide how we want to participate or at least include our fur children in those family day activities. If the day is located outdoors, then create a special area for our fur children to be included. Having the choice to decide our level of involvement in kid-centric activities helps us to build strength and resilience. Being forced to participate in child-friendly events can be damaging to couples struggling to have children. Allow us to decide what we are comfortable with at that time.

© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2018.

Have you struggled with infertility? What support systems have you found helpful within the military world? What support systems would you like to see available?

Wendi and her husband standing side by side

Wendi Iacobello has been an Army wife for three years and part of military life for five years. After struggling through pregnancy loss and infertility for the last three years, she and her husband are now expecting their rainbow baby this fall. She has spent the last nine years as an adult educator, has a Master of Arts in Educational Media, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Her teaching career includes; Middle and High School Special Education, Correctional Education, and Community College Instruction in Early Childhood Education, Compensatory Ed, as well as Adult Basic Education. Currently, she is a blogger, freelance writer, instructional designer, aqua cycling instructor, and avid volunteer. In her free time, you can usually find her volunteering at USO’s story time, outdoors in the garden, exercising, or enjoying time with her husband and their adorable Beagle, Daizi. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others find their inner strength by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength4Spouses.