Some days, we sip our coffee as we watch our spouses leave in their dress blues and we glow with pride just to know how blessed we are to be a part of this life. Other days, we spend hours arguing with TRICARE’s automated system before we eat dinner alone because our spouse won’t come home until 2300 (just to let us know they only have five hours before a TA-50 layout in preparation for an upcoming deployment).
If there is one certainty in this crazy life, it’s that nothing is certain. A sparkling house or sitting down for dinner as a family at the same time everyday is mythical. I don’t know how this 1950’s standard has survived so long, but it’s time for that to go somewhere and die.
Because you know what? It’s okay to be imperfect.
It’s okay that your house is in shambles when you get that “housing inspection in 20 minutes” text message.
It’s okay if you forget to bring a dish to the potluck FRG meeting (and I won’t tell if you skip the FRG meeting altogether because you just can’t “people” that day).
It’s okay to have your own career or to put that career on the backburner while you raise a family.
It’s okay to be fiercely unapologetic.
It’s okay to live with a “worst-case scenario” mindset (because let’s be honest, that’s probably the most practical outcome, anyway).
It’s okay to not have a flattering, floor-length gown readily available when your spouse gets last-minute notice of a military ball.
It’s okay to yell, swear, or cry in front of complete strangers.
It’s okay to dream of a day where you have a sense of permanency in your life again.
It’s okay to not love every single aspect of this life.
But y’all, it seems in this generation of entitlement, some spouses have forgotten that they put their pants on one leg at a time. . . just like everyone else. Please, take a step off that pedestal and remember that you are a reflection of your spouse and their career. These mistakes do matter:
1. Wearing a rank you didn’t earn
It is not okay to wear your spouse’s rank as your own. Unless you plan on signing away your life, working your butt off, and earning that respect, then let their career be just that: Their career. When meeting someone new, the biggest red flag for me is someone starting with “Hi I’m Mrs. Sergeant First Class Wilson.”
We aren’t addressing Christmas cards here. Just be your own person.
2. Stirring the pot
It is not okay to be the bored spouse who starts unnecessary drama on the local military social media pages. If someone disagrees with you, learn to turn a cheek. If someone gives you a low-ball offer on an item you have for sale, kindly decline it. Manners go a long way.
3. Letting one rotten apple ruin everything
It is not okay to swear off all military spouses because you had a bad experience at a previous duty station. I’ve been guilty of this myself and after 7.5 years and three duty stations, I can confidently say that not a single duty station, unit, or FRG is the same. Give every new friendship or experience a chance.
4. Freaking out over a discount
It is not okay to berate the cashier because the department store has not implemented a military discount. My retired Marine Corps dad recently reminded me that at the start of his career, a military ID could get you on post and that was pretty much it. He didn’t have all the perks that military families have today. He couldn’t get 10 percent retail discounts, free theme park tickets, or whatever else. Do not make that poor 17-year-old behind the counter feel unpatriotic or whatever clever name you come up with. Pay the extra 50 cents and go along your merry way.
5. Bother the chain of command
It is not okay to bother your spouse’s chain of command for every little dispute in your relationship. Don’t be that person. They have a job to do.
And that job is not to play marriage mediator.
If you have serious issues in your marriage, make a counseling appointment, but allow your spouse to tell their chain of command on their own accord.
Don’t be melodramatic. Be the spouse your service member is proud to call their own. Be respectful. Bad days are inevitable but just remember to bounce back. Before you know it, you’ll be sipping your coffee with that cheesy prideful glow again. Although there are a number of things that are inexplicably unpleasant about this life, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons.
By Katy Porritt