Hmm…did I hear that correctly? Did he/she actually just ask me that? There are times when individuals want to know more about our “glamorous” military lifestyle. Whether they mean well (or not), sometimes their phrasing comes off as…less than eloquent.
At some point in your time as a military spouse, you may be presented with one of these questions or statements. Instead of getting offended, I suggest you hold your head high and understand that he/she is trying to better understand our unique lifestyle. Odds are that he/she isn’t meaning to verbally punch you in the gut, but is instead, genuinely curious. I recommend that you maintain your composure and explain your answer as best you can, while taking the high road. Looking for pointers? Here’s a great place to start.
- Aren’t you afraid he is going to die?
Your thought: Bring up my biggest fear, why don’t you? OF COURSE I worry about that! Are my eyes starting to water now?
Your response: Naturally I worry about his safety, but I try not to dwell on it. He is well trained and trusts his command and fellow soldiers.
- Do you think he’s going to cheat on you?
Your thought: Um, I hope not. Why would you bring that up? Now I’m thinking about it…
Your response: We love each other very much and are doing our best to maintain communication and trust while we are apart.
- When you’re apart, do you do whatever you want?
Your thought: If you mean that “different zip code” rule, then no, definitely not.
Your response: I do enjoy some freedoms, and I’m sure he does too, but nothing that would threaten our relationship. If you mean binge watching chick flicks, drinking some wine, and not shaving my legs, then yes!
- Are you going to lose weight while he’s gone?
Your thought: Are you saying I’m fat? I mean, I have eaten some ice cream since he left…
Your response: I am taking care of myself in several ways while he’s gone. I’m doing what I can to make it about my happiness and well-being.
- I know it’s hard, my husband has to go on business trips.
Your thought: Apples and oranges, not exactly the same thing…
Your response: Thanks for trying to relate. Any time apart is tough on a relationship. It’s especially challenging when you add children to the equation.
- Did he kill anyone?
Your thought: Wow, that is pretty straightforward. If he did, would I tell you?
Your response: That’s up to him to talk about it if he so desires, but understand that if he did, it is not a light subject. The best rule of thumb is that if he brings it up, it’s okay to talk about. If not, don’t ask.
- Didn’t you know what you were getting into?
Your thought: No, I suppose my crystal ball was broken that day.
Your response: Does anybody ever really know? Like most other people, I married the person I cared about and we are both on this journey together.
- What do you do all day?
Your thought: Did you just insinuate that I sit around watching TV and eating bon bons? I wish I had time to do that!
Your response: What don’t I do? (And here you insert your list of responsibilities which may include taking care of children, working, attending school, volunteering, holding down the homefront, etc.)
- Don’t worry, your kids are too young to remember this.
Your thought: I think you’re trying to be nice, but this feels a bit insensitive.
Your response: Although my child may not remember, it’s tough right now because he/she misses dad. On top of that, I will remember and my spouse will remember. We do everything we can to stay close as a family and help the children count down to his return.
- This too, shall pass.
Your thought: I am upset now and I feel like this diminishes my experience and invalidates my feelings.
Your response: You’re right, it will.
What difficult questions have you been asked? How did you handle them?
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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