I read an article on Military.com the other day about “those” spouses. It was a pretty short little bit about how quickly people are to judge overconfident spouses or those who “don’t seem to understand how it works.” Honestly, it got me thinking. It got me thinking back to my own husbands deployment when I was a newlywed, with a deployed husband and was all alone.
This judgement is a common one. For some reason, at some point, we all grow jaded about this life. On the one hand, we spouses are a proud and confident bunch. There’s nothing we can’t face down, nothing we can’t handle and are usually pretty self sufficient. This all comes from living a life where we have no other choice more often than not. We can either step up to the plate and swing, or sit in the dug out and sulk, but only one of those options allows the life we lead to keep moving forward when our husbands are gone.
But on the other hand, we are judgmental and critical of all of those who we feel are overly confident, or overly weepy for that matter. Both of which are things we can rarely afford to be. It’s not often an option to sit on our couches for days on end feeling sorry for ourselves, even if that’s really what we would rather be doing. But think about it for one second. That overly confident wife we are irked at? What is it that she was overly confident about? It was probably something she said about being frustrated that her spouse deployed with no warning, his duty got extended a day before he was supposed to be home or some other thing that she is now facing that she was not prepared for emotionally. Does that really make her confident? No, it makes her human. It makes her normal to have hoped against the odds that he would come home on time, that things would work out and that ever conceivable thing that could go wrong wouldn’t.
We spouses have been through a lot in the last 10 years. Those who have been married for longer have been through more, having seen multiple conflicts in their time with their service members. We all know that at the best of times, when we are a nation at peace, there is still no guarantee about anything that revolves around the military, but think back to those first years.
I think back to my first year married. Barely married. Barely having said “I do” and already saying goodbye with a tear in my eye. I knew I had to be strong, I couldn’t tell my husband how hard it was to have him gone so soon. I couldn’t tell my friends and my family that I had no idea what to do. I had no idea hard it would be, what to expect or even how to do something as basic as navigate Tricare. I spend my time blogging about this strange experience, weeping when no one was looking and trying to keep it together when all I wanted to do was hide in a dark room and sleep until it was over. I remember it vividly because I have never felt so alone.
And I knew “that wife.” The one who told me that I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what a “real” deployment was like because so far we hadn’t had any combat related injuries and her husbands last deployment had seen multiple deaths. “This was cake,” she would tell me. I spent a year of my life feeling ashamed about my own worries and fears because this spouse, who should have been there for me, helping me navigate this strange new world I found myself in, chose to tell me how I didn’t know what I was talking about instead. She chose to belittle my feelings as a new spouse, in a new life, having no idea what to do.
She was elitist, telling anyone who would listen how she was better than they were as a spouse because of what her husbands last deployment was like, what he used to do before he got to our unit, where they had been stationed and how long she had been a military spouse.
Don’t be that spouse.
So, the next time you are rolling your eyes at that spouse who’s mad about this change, frustrated about that one, or is just having a rough day and crying about it, stop for a second and think back to your first deployment experience. Think back to your first year as a military spouse. Were you that much different? And if you were, could it possibly have been because someone took the time to hold your hand and understand instead of judge you?