The impact of military lifestyle on the careers of military spouse educators : a phenomenological case study.


The military lifestyle can negatively impact military spouse employment, career progression, financial earnings, retirement eligibility, community connectedness, and self-esteem. Military spouses, on average, are overeducated and underemployed. This phenomenon is linked to unique military lifestyle factors, such as frequent relocation, and conceivably compounded by career-specific barriers, such as those often found in career fields like education. While substantial research exists on military spouse unemployment very little of it focuses on the impacts of the military lifestyle on spouses who work in education or seeks to highlight and describe the participants’ lived experience. The scholarship documents this concern but rarely gives military spouses a voice. To better understand the cumulative impact of these factors on military spouses, this phenomenological case study explores and describes the impact of military lifestyle on the careers of military spouse educators. This study employed a demographic questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and open-ended questions to capture the lived experiences of military spouse educators. The researcher utilized criteria-based and snowball sampling methods. The researcher described the results through the lens of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a theoretical framework used to interpret motivation and the pursuit of goals on well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Moreover, the researcher leveraged thematic analysis to highlight common topics amongst the interview transcripts. This case study informs potential and current military spouses, military leadership, policymakers, teacher preparation programs, boards of education, communities, and support agencies of the adverse conditions that may impact military spouse educators and offers insights into ways to offer support. The demographic findings closely imitate that of military spouses in general. Military lifestyle factors, especially frequent transitions, adversely impact Military Spouse Educator’s (MSE) well-being. Participants shared how the uncertainty of the military lifestyle led to unfavorable challenges, requisite sacrifices, and the internalization of guilt regarding their careers. MSE’s well-being would be fostered by a concerted effort to implement military policies that support the basic psychological needs (control, competence, connectedness) of the family unit. Military and educational policymakers can assist by auditing and mitigating arbitrary barriers to MSE employment and career progression.



Autonomy. Career. Competence. Connectedness. Deployment. Education. Employment. Lifestyle. Military. Motivation. Opportunities. Phenomenological case study. Relocation. Spouse. Transitions. Well-being.