Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Response to I am not my spouse's rank

I finally had a chance to sit down and read an article called, I am not my spouse's rank. It was written last September, but I didn't see it until someone posted a link on Facebook (oh Facebook, our love/hate relationship continues). The author is the spouse of a lieutenant colonel and she explains that she's been discriminated against because of her husband's rank to the point where it interfered with the care of her child.

What I appreciate about the article is that she's willing to go there so to speak. The rank divide amongst military wives seems like a taboo subject and I think it's healthy that she's sharing her experience. My own experience is one I would describe as a mixed bag at best.

My husband is in the military and what I can tell you is that it's usually tough regardless of your spouse's rank.



The military is an odd profession in that you pick up and move every two to three years. You're forced to make friends and spend time with people you wouldn't normally seek out. Sometimes it's an amazing experience and you meet a new lifelong friend. Sometimes going to social events makes you want to pull your hair out because you don't click with anyone and you feel alone. Note: There are some spouses who can make a best friend anywhere they go. That - much to my dismay - is not me.

Right, so I've definitely been in situations where I've been gossiped about or bullied. One of the worst situations was actually by a group of peers. Who knew that a group of military wives could be so vicious? I definitely felt alienated and singled out even though we were all "in this together" so to speak. Without going into details, I'll just say it was rough. And probably helped me develop a thicker skin, which certainly doesn't hurt (although it took awhile to appreciate that little tidbit).

But while I've met my fair share of rude officer AND enlisted spouses, I've also met some pretty amazing ones on both sides of the spectrum. There are plenty of spouses that don't fall into the drama of Army life and remain individuals with their own interests. I wish we could all get together and agree that we don't wear our husband's rank, we aren't responsible for the decisions they make at the office and at the end of the day, we're our own people.

I realize that at this point all I can control is my own behavior. So here's where I stand. I will spend time with, help out, befriend any spouse if we have similar interests. Hell, I'll help someone out if they need assistance even if I don't like them because it's the right thing to do.

Maybe if we all put a little effort into making one another feel like part of the team or the Army family, we'd all have a more enjoyable experience. Let's stop gossiping about one another or freezing out a spouse. We're all in this together and since our soldiers are gone so often, shouldn't we be able to rely on one another? Wouldn't it be nice to ask for help or go have lunch with someone without wondering if they're going to turn around 20 minutes later and talk about you behind your back?

I've been blessed to find a group of women (military and non-military) in our local area that I enjoy spending time with. It's drama-free and they're always willing to lend a helping hand. I don't want to get all mushy so let's just leave it with me saying I feel very fortunate to have them in my life.

And I hope that in the future, this is how it looks at FRG meetings and military events. Lots of people from different backgrounds having fun and helping each other out. Let's choose to be kind to one another. It would be a beautiful thing.

Cheers,
Jen




5 comments:

  1. I think the art of just being kind is something that is lost on a lot of women these days...everyone is in a damn competition of some sort. It's ridiculous.

    I don't envy you - I do make friends easily, but the thought of not having my "village" that I've built here in Arlington stresses me out. So much so, that we aren't even looking at buying a house too far from where we live because I don't want to be too far. haha So, kudos to you for doing what you are doing - and shame on those people being rude. They are losing out on meeting one of my favorite sisters!

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  2. Aww, thanks!

    Yeah, I think too many people spend too much time comparing their lives to others. There's always someone with more money, a bigger house, a better car, an enviable figure - whatever. I think we all need to take a step back and appreciate what we have.

    And I know I'm guilty of gossip (really working on this), but I hope I've never been guilty of making someone feel isolated or bullied. Sometimes I wish I'd had the perspective/wisdom I have now in my early 20s. Anyway, I've forgiven those rude people. Maybe they haven't had their lightbulb moment yet.

    Yeah, I hear you. Leaving your "village" is tough. Luckily, I've been rewarded with some pretty unique opportunities and a loving husband to boot!

    PS - I didn't know you were looking for a new house!

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  3. I'm working on not judging others, as an American I think it's ingrown in us! But who knows a persons back story....anyway, I get what you mean here. Fortunately this is the hubs first "real" army unit and not hospital so who knows what it holds but I'm sure people judge me as his wife (exactly why I don't like going to many army functions). He too makes people work, stop being lazy, and do it the right way. My philosophy is to leave work at work and be who you naturally are in a non work social setting. But officer, enlisted...as wives we all need to stick together and help each other out as it's not always an easy job on either side of the spectrum!

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  4. ahhh....that's a recent thing. We are looking for our "forever" home, so this isn't a rush job or something that will happen soon. I have a very specific vision of neighborhood and home, so it will take a hot minute. I'm very excited, though!

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  5. Jody, it's true. It's ingrained in us to make snap decisions based on what people are wearing, how they act, their facial expressions, etc. It is what it is. But it would be nice if we could all keep it to ourselves (or share with our husbands/moms who aren't involved) rather than gang up one someone, you know? Or to be able to put those initial judgments aside and actually give someone a chance to show who they really are instead of pigeon-holing them. But I know you know what I'm saying. And I totally agree. Leave work at work. And I'm by no means perfect. I think we're all a work in progress, lol.

    Jenn - that's exciting! I hope you find what you're looking for. And if you need a realtor, let me know. :)

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