As military spouses, we know to expect the many challenges that come with this life, including long separations, frequent moves, and putting our own careers and goals on the backburner. It’s not easy, and we all deserve a safe space to talk about our feelings and frustrations. But let’s be honest — being a military spouse also invites a lot of unwanted questions, probing, and judgment from people outside the community.
Here are eight of the most common responses we hear and why they’re so cringeworthy.
“You knew what you were signing up for.”
Actually, we didn’t. And while we did choose our spouses and fully support their careers, we certainly didn’t sign up to move seven times in 12 years, or to fight for proper medical care, or for moving companies to break our valuable household goods, or to find a new job every few years. And while we’re grateful for the opportunities the military provides, no one truly understands the challenges of this life unless they’ve lived it, too.
“My husband travels for work a lot, so I get it.”
Oh, is he getting shot at, too? It’s not the same in the slightest. Depending on the mission, when our service member spouses are away, they could be in constant danger, have limited means of communication, or be gone for an undetermined period of time. Definitely not your typical business trip.
“At least it’s only ___ months.”
This might be a well-intentioned effort to make us feel better, but is it really helpful or comforting? It comes across as insensitive and dismissive of our feelings. Also, I wasn’t aware I was only allowed to miss my spouse if he’s gone for a certain length of time! The truth is we miss them every day no matter how long they’re gone for.
“At least the government pays for everything!”
This is a pretty big misconception. Does the government subsidize many expenses related to military life? The answer is, “Sometimes,” or “It depends.” Military families don’t live in the lap of luxury, and just because something is free doesn’t mean it’s good — we often contend with sub-par quality services, accommodations, and care. Benefits like government housing are actually not “free” at all, or always available. And if you consider non-competitive salaries and non-traditional working hours, the extra perks don’t always balance out.
“Why doesn’t he/she just get out if it’s so hard?”
It’s not so simple. Service members sign contracts that obligate them to a certain number of years of service. They can’t just put in two weeks’ notice and then leave. Even if a service member is no longer contractually obliged to stay in, getting out of the military is a complicated, long, drawn-out process that can take months, or even years. Sometimes a military family has a specific end goal in mind that keeps them in, like retirement — but that doesn’t make the journey to get there any easier.
“I couldn’t be married to someone in the military. I would miss him/her too much!”
So, because our spouse is in the military, we must not miss them? Or if our spouses really loved us and cared about our feelings they wouldn’t choose to be in the military?
“Are you sure that baby is his? Wink wink!”
This comment doesn’t even merit a response, but I’ll give it one because it’s so downright disrespectful. It may be masked in humor, but the implication that a pregnant spouse cheated on her husband isn’t funny at all. No one has any idea of the timing or circumstances behind someone else’s family planning. Being pregnant or parenting solo is hard enough already without these rude assumptions.
“I don’t know how you do it!”
The truth is, we don’t have a choice. We make it work because there’s no alternative — we have families that need to be taken care of and work that needs to be done and lives that need to go on. Even on the days we don’t think we can, we have to, because there are people who depend on us. Fortunately, we have each other to lean on.Read comments