Sailors' wives and husband absence
This thesis reports on a study of women married to Royal Navy personnel and resident in the West of England and Wales. The analyses are based on data derived from secondary sources, a questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews, the field-work having been conducted between January 1985 and April 1986. Past research has concentrated on the emotional reaction of wives to husband absence, its relationship to anxiety and depression. This thesis is, however, concerned with the social situation of wives intermittently without husbands. It is an exploration of the marital and domestic consequences of husband absence and the implications it has for the wider relationships of wives periodically without husbands. A distinction is drawn between long-term absences of weeks and often months and short-term, weekday absences. - Here the evidence suggests that short but frequent absences are the most disruptive and "weekend marriages" the least satisfactory. Husband absence is seen to impact deeply into the life course experiences of wives; it increases their domestic powers and responsibilities, especially if they are resident in private housing; it alters relationships with children and the contexts of child-rearing; it effect the employment opportunities and experiences of wives; it transforms domestic routines and household timetables; and it influences the social contacts and neighbouring relations of wives, leaving wives without husbands relatively isolated members of the community. The thesis also suggests that although separation and absence have been the foci of past concern, reunion and reintegration are equally problematic. The findings provide case study information on a particular set of marital experiences and relate to wider perspectives on the construction of marriage and wifehood.