Being a military spouse isn’t easy. This life has broke many marriages while it’s also made some pretty strong ones. I’ve been married to my husband going on six years now and while that might seem like a short amount of time, it’s enough time for two kids, two promotions, selling one house, moving from Georgia all the way to Belgium and countless of “overtime” hours (not that they actually have those in the military but you get the point). In those six years, I have had my fair share of dealing with comments towards me or my family that just struck me wrong. I’m not saying that those people that said them are being malicious or anything but I do think they don’t realize how those comments resonate with me, or any military spouse. Some comments or questions are more frustrating than others. These six are my top comments or questions that I believe every non-military (or even military) should NEVER say to a military spouse.
You knew what you were getting into.
People who say this really have no concept of the military life. No matter who you are, you do not know what you are getting into before you marry into the military. I am an Army Veteran yet I still had no concept of what life as a military spouse would be like. No amount of talks, books or whatever you use to prepare yourself will help you fully understand what is entailed in this life. I am not saying I didn’t understand a little more than the average person what it would be like but I am saying that you can’t prepare for this life. Years of deployments, long hours at work, missed family events and picking up and moving your whole family/life every 2-3 years…you can’t possibly prepare yourself for that. I always like to say this comment towards a military spouse is like telling a new mother that she knew what she was getting into. In reality, she really didn’t know and it’s just rude to insinuate that she did. Same goes for military spouses….this comment is a sure fire way to cause the spouse to distance herself from you. Just don’t say it!
When are you coming to visit?
Lets be honest, we get this question from every family member and friend back home. They just can’t seem to help themselves. We get that as family and friends you miss seeing us and want to see our kids and so forth. Trust me, we miss you too. BUT you need to understand that coming “home” to visit isn’t a vacation. We spend all of our time making sure that everyone sees us and no one is left out. The military member gets a limited amount of time off and normally we only get one “vacation” a year, if that. If we come home every time then we don’t get time as a family. Not to mention that coming home is normally not cheap! We are a family of 4 so that’s 4 plane tickets, a rental car, maybe even a place to stay that needs to be paid for. Many times flying Space A (military flights) isn’t an option because there is no guarantee you can get on the flight…meaning you could end up not getting back to base within your allotted time. Instead of asking when we are coming to visit, how about you plan a visit to come see us! Getting a long weekend off is easier to swing for the military member than an actual vacation. Just make sure you let us know when you are coming so we can ensure that there aren’t any mission requirements during that time frame.
My husband goes on business trips, I know how you feel.
Sorry but your husband’s business trips can’t really compare to the anxiety and fears we face when our spouse is deployed to a hostile and very dangerous place. There really is no comparison unless your husband is a civilian contractor or something along those lines. If that’s the case then we consider you one of us and you know that this statement is a big no, no! We also have love and compassion for law enforcement since they face the same kind of fears we do…but again you know that this statement isn’t to be made to a military spouse. If your husband takes business trips then just try saying that you understand being lonely and offer to help with our kids or just come hang out and drink some wine with us. Whatever you do, do not compare a business trip to a deployment!
I don’t know how you do it.
Trust me, we don’t know how we do it either! This life isn’t for the weak. Some days it takes every bit of will power we have just to make it through the day without breaking down into tears. Heck, my husband isn’t even deployed and last week is the most I have cried in a long time. We do it because we love our spouse and we are proud of their accomplishments along with the pride of being married to someone who is willing to fight for this country and our rights. We do it because we have a family to take care of and our kids do not need to see us breaking down every day. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, this life is not for the weak. It takes a STRONG person to marry a military member. We do it because we have to! We don’t need you reminding us how tough this life is by making this statement. Instead, just tell us you appreciate our sacrifices or that you admire how we push through.
It must be nice to be a stay at home mom since he makes so much money.
I have no idea where people get the idea that military members make so much money. I mean, if you are single with no kids then I can see where it might seem that way. It even is a comfortable income as long as it’s a two income family. The problem is, most military spouses end up being stay at home moms because when you move every 2-3 years it’s hard to find a job. It’s a funny thing about that…businesses don’t really like to know that they are hiring someone that will be leaving within 2 years or so. Granted, they don’t pass up hiring you for that reason “officially” because that’s against the law but the typical response is, “We hired a more qualified person.” Then of course there are the duty stations (overseas) that the spouses aren’t allowed to work in accordance to the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement). I know that people often give you the pay for a new military member but to show my point I want to give you the current base pay for an E5 that’s been in over 6 years. This is the rank for when I was about to get out of the military in 2010, but with the 2016 pay chart. A military member that is an E5 and has been in over 6 years makes $33,573.60 a year base pay. That’s not very much when you are a family of 4 trying to live comfortably! Now, I know people like to bring up the housing allowance that some members get but if you live on base then you do not get that. If you are living off base then the military does provide a housing allowance that helps the members to find decent housing and that amount is based off of where your duty station is. Sometimes that amount is a big help but there are times the amount just doesn’t cover it. Now remember that the base pay I stated above is for someone who has advanced in rank AND been in at least 6 years! Think about all those military members with kids and a wife who haven’t reached that rank/time in. I recently read the following in Marketplace.org, “In 2014 more than $84 million-worth of food stamp benefits were spent at military commissaries. That’s just a fraction of a percent of all the food stamps spent in the U.S. last year. But the number is sobering when you think of who is doing this spending — people who served or are currently serving our country and are still having trouble making ends meet.” If that doesn’t put to rest that our military members make so much money, then I don’t know what will!
When is he getting out?
Why is it that people assume that every military member is getting out at a certain time. Not all of them say that they will retire at 20 years or that when their 8 years are up then they are getting out. Some actually enjoy their time in the military and want to stay in as long as the military will let them. If they are anything like my husband then they have the aspirations to become an E9, one of the 1% of the Air Force to make that rank. If that means he reaches 26 years in the military then that’s what he will do. As his spouse, I am here to support him and that’s just what I will do. While this isn’t the most annoying question out of the list, it’s pretty frustrating to be asked this over and over again. It’s almost as if every person that isn’t in the military feels the need to ask us this question. Just do us a favor and avoid asking us. Often times when we feel comfortable in our friendship with you, we will discuss our future plans and it will give you the answer to this question. So just be patient and wait for us to offer it up instead of asking.
There you have it…the top 6 statements (or questions) that annoy the heck out of us military spouses. Seriously, please don’t ask or say these things to us. I know most of the time these statements are made out of love and we appreciate your support but we are just trying our hardest to be good wives, fathers, mothers, and husbands. All we need are some good friends and family to listen when we want to vent and to be there when we are lonely. To just love us and accept the path that we have taken as spouses. Just support us, that’s all we need and want.
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