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What It's Really Like Being An Army Wife

A new exhibit named 'Not Just a Wife' looks at highlighting what it's really like to be an army wife...

An Army wife is aiming to show people what it's really like to be married to someone in the military through a new exhibition.

The 'Not Just A Wife' exhibit uses pictures of 50 spouses along with cards which voice their thoughts and emotions of marrying into the Army.

The exhibition was set up by Wendy Faux, who has been an Army wife for the past 20 years and had to get accustomed to regular moving and army life. 

"By capturing the stories now we get a representation of what it's like to be an Army wife today"

Not Just a Wife

The exhibit is currently on show in Shrivenham at the Defence Academy where a selection of portraits of women and men, along with interview cards are on display.

Wendy Faux started by asking the spouses what they wanted to do when they left school, what skills they've developed since being in the army community and finally, how important is a sense of community to them.

Their responses were then noted down on white cards to accompany their portrait.

"It's so easy within this organisation to just be labelled as a wife"

not just wives

Some of the answers showed positive reactions with some saying moving had helped their confidence at getting jobs quickly within their new location.

However, some showed the sacrifices the wives had to make to support their husbands. 

"When we met we both had jobs we really liked. Somebody had to give up something. You've got to give it up without resentment."

Not Just Wives

From the cards, Wendy said she hoped she could further highlight the 'partner's loyalty to the Army.' 

One woman who took part in the exhibit was Lucy McFarlane, she says moving can be a tough challenge for any wife. 

"One of the biggest challenges for spouses is moving and not being able to keep a career in place."

Not Just a Wife

Lucy McFarlane left university with a joint honours degree in Music and Drama and had ambitions of becoming an opera singer. But after leaving university she soon started to settle into army life as she had been dating her husband for around two years when she took her finals. 

In the exhibit Lucy opens up about losing friends:

"I have lost friends who don't understand what it's like to be in the Army and so we have not been able to move forward together."

Lucy found solace in the Military Wives Choir, as it's something every location has - a sense of continuity despite moving.

But now she is hoping to become a doctor and is currently studying her A Levels in Biology and Chemistry.

Not Just a Wife

"I had a sense that I wanted to do something and have an identity that is purely mine - not a wife and not a mum."

The exhibit will remain in Shrivenham for the next two weeks before moving to the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall. 

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