Leisure Constraints Among Military Wives
Keywords:military wives, military recreation, constraints, leisure constraints, feminism
Abstract“Military wives” comprise a segment of the population who face all of the challenges of traditional family life as well as the challenges associated with military life. Despite the recognition that familial satisfaction with military life is a linchpin for soldier readiness, retention, and recruitment, we know very little about these women’s lives in general and their leisure in particular. This study seeks to understand the leisure constraints among military wives.Questionnaire responses supplied by 716 military wives living at the Fort Hood Military Housing Post in Texas were used for data analysis. Ranked mean scores showed that as a group, military wives’ recreation participation was most often constrained by a trio of time and responsibility constraints (busy with work, busy with family, lacking time). In addition, military wives reported that their recreation was “sometimes” or “often” constrained by a lack of information about recreation opportunities.MANCOVA analyses were used to pinpoint constraints that may not have impacted all military wives but that significantly impacted subgroups of military wives. With regard to military wives’ levels of education and income, our findings confirmed this expectation. Lower levels of education were linked to a greater incidence of constraints, whereas a higher level of education (particularly college completion and postgraduate work) was related to a decrease in perceived constraints. Contrary to study expectations, minority status was not related to a greater prevalence of constraints among military wives. The findings indicated that Caucasian and Hispanic women were significantly more likely than African American and Asian American women to report constraints.To help women negotiate their constraints to leisure and cope with psychological pressures on post, we recommend that leisure service providers undertake the following: (a) provide information about local recreation offerings for newcomers; (b) provide child-care services on-site and intergenerational recreation opportunities; and (c) provide outlets for adults-only recreation opportunities. In addition, we recommend that military and community leaders undertake the following: (a) recognize women’s critical role in soldier readiness and retention; and (b) include military wives in community-based recreation planning on post and in the host community.
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