These 35 things are more important to me than your spouse’s rank


By Lizann Lightfoot

There’s a negative rumor among military spouses that some spouses “wear their spouse’s rank” and will only make friends with another military spouse who is the appropriate rank. Newsflash: Unless the spouse is also in the military, then they¬†do not have any rank, regardless of what their service member does.

Most of us know that.

For many military spouses, service member rank is the last thing that matters. Sure, I might be able to guess an approximate rank based on your age, where you live in base housing, or what assignment you just came from. But I don’t actually care about that. Your service member’s rank is no indication of whether or not we can be friends.

In fact, here are 35 things I care about much more than your spouse’s military rank. I’m a bit of an extrovert, so if we met, I am almost guaranteed to ask you all of these things before we get around to discussing rank:

  1. Do you have kids? (I have four, so if you have kids, you will get my life. If you don’t have any, then you can come over to my place when the kids are in bed for some binge-watching and ice cream!)
  2. Do you have pets? (I don’t–because of all the kids–but I love to see pictures!)
  3. Where did you grow up? (I love meeting people from around the country!)
  4. How long have you lived here? (Because if you know the area well, I am about to pick your brain for kid activities and great tourism deals.)
  5. Do you have family around here? (If not, you might be coming to my place for the next big holiday.)
  6. Are we neighbors? (Yes? Then we should be friendly and help each other. No? Then tell me about your neighborhood.)
  7. If you are on base, which house layout do you have? (And what did you do with that awkward space behind the couch?)
  8. Do our kids go to the same school? (Tell me about it!)
  9. How old are you? (Because people in their thirties have a different life experience than some younger Millennials.)
  10. Are you working or looking for work? (Every base has a different job market, but right now I work from home and love it!)
  11. Did you go to school or are you trying to? (I went to college in DC–which was incredible–then earned my master’s online, so I know a little about traditional and online classes.)
  12. Do you like to bake? (Me too!)
  13. Do you like to cook? (Me too!)
  14. Do you drink wine? (Me too!)
  15. Do you like to go running? (I kinda do. . . I’m just slow.)
  16. Do you go to the gym? (I do, because it has free childcare. . .)
  17. Do you have a jogging stroller? (If you do, we can go for walks or hit some trails together with the kids.)
  18. Do you like the beach? (Maybe we should go to the one on base. Like next week.)
  19. Where do you get your hair/nails done? (Because once I get moved in, I’m going to need to find someone to cut my hair.)
  20. Where did you find such a great outfit? (Because I’m always impressed by everyone else’s fashion savvy.)
  21. Where do you get your car’s oil changed? (I need to do that for our minivan.)
  22. What are the best places to visit around here? (Everyone answers this differently, which is why I always ask.)
  23. Where did you live before this? (I love to get the low-down on other bases.)
  24. Do you go to church on base? (Because we are always looking for a good community.)
  25. Is this your first deployment? (So I know where you are emotionally right now.)
  26. What do you think will be the hardest? (So I can reassure you that it will be okay.)
  27. What would you like help with? (Because I have been there and will be forever paying it forward.)
  28. Do you want to plan a game night? (Because things like Bunco and Cards Against Humanity can make us friends really quickly.)
  29. Have you ever done a cool scavenger hunt? (I have a funny story.)
  30. Do you watch sports? (Because I’m indifferent to most.)
  31. Are you on the base Facebook page? (If you are, we are seeing the same drama unfold every few weeks.)
  32. Do you know a simple recipe for busy nights? (I’m always looking for a good one.)
  33. What are your favorite TV shows? (I loved Game of Thrones, now looking for a new one.)
  34. Read any good books lately? (Which ones?)
  35. What are the coolest places you have visited? (I want to hear your travel stories!)

After all that, sure, if you want to tell me about your spouse’s rank, we can do that. Or we can trade birthing stories. I really don’t care who your spouse is or what their rank is. It’s the kids and food and laughter and trips to the beach that are going to make us closer friends.

Lizann Lightfoot is an associate editor at Military One Click and a Marine Corps spouse. She can be reached at lizann@militaryoneclick.com.

One Comment

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! As a military spouse I truly appreciate this article. As a teacher, teaching in a DODEA base school, I run into this all the time. When sharing my military life style with my student’s parents, I’m often asked what rank my husband is. It strikes me as odd that his rank is more important than my teaching experience or teaching style. I share that I am a military spouse of 30 years and also raised a child in this lifestyle so they know I completely understand the struggles our children go through. The students do not care where their classmates live on base. They care about how nice their friend is. I am a firm believer that, as a teacher, I should not teach rank to my students, because then it’s no different than teaching them to treat each other differently because of skin color. I address the parents as Mr. and Mrs. This article hits home on so many different levels. Thank you for addressing this.

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