What Not to Ask a Military Wife

RebeccaUncategorized24 Comments

study

While sitting in the waiting room at the Children’s hospital this week, another mom heard Jason and I talking while we waited for Brody to come out of anesthesia.

I’m reading, and Jason is doing his best not to lose it because Brody’s been under 2 hours longer than they said he would.  The conversation goes like this:

Mom: “Oh, you’re in the military?”
Jason: “Yes, I’m in the army.”
Me :  Reading, because it’s… like… what I do.

Mom: “Oh, and you’ve been over there?”

Jason: “Yes, two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.”
Me (In my head):  thinking… here we go…

Mom: “Well at least you’re done, right?”
Jason: “I’m actually headed back next week.”
Me: Looking up and thinking:

Mom: “What?  Why would you want to go back?”
Jason: “Well, I really don’t want to.”
Me: Now I’m paying attention to this chick.

Mom: “You have to go back?  They make you?”
Jason: “Yes.  That’s how it works, we get orders, we go.”
Me: Now I’m realizing no reading will get done, and this ARC review needs to get done.

Mom: “I can’t believe they just make you go when you don’t want to.”
Jason: “It’s just part of being in the military.”
Me: In my head, I’m about to chuck this ARC (which ironically starts in Afghanistan) at this chick like:
With a few random questions, she’s ruined my peace of mind, halted my reading and reminded me that my husband is leaving next week (which I can do nothing about).  Yay.
So here you go, a little glimpse into the stupid questions people ask military wives, and while we may answer with grace and decorum, we might not be thinking the same way.  
And yes, these are questions people have actually asked me.  
Silly Statement:  What do you mean your husband is in Afghanistan?  We pulled out and the war is over!

I really say: Um… that was Iraq.  We haven’t pulled out of Afghanistan yet.

I really think: 
Silly Statement by a stranger: OMG, you’re an army wife!?  I love your TV show!  I feel like I know so much about your life!
I really say: You know it’s not really like that.  ( I backed away slowly.)
I’d Like to say:
          And a little bit of:
Silly Question: How the heck do you handle all these kids when he’s gone?  
          You must fall apart!
I really Say: One day at a time.
I’d like to say: Are you kidding me?

Silly Question:  Doesn’t the military make a ton of money?
I really say: Not as much as you’d think
I really think:

Silly Statement:  God, I wish my husband would deploy.  I need a break.
I really say:  You probably don’t mean that.
I’d like to say:
Silly Statement: I wish I married an army guy.  I mean, the free health care is worth the deployments, right?  It’s only a year and stuff, and you get more deployment money for him being over there, right?  That has to be nice.
I really Say: Nothing is worth a deployment.
I’d like to say: Do you know what a deployment is?
Silly Statement:  I’m so sad.  My boyfriend has been gone all weekend, and it’s been so tough!
I really say:  Missing someone you love just sucks.
I really think: 
Silly Statement:  Your marriage must be so easy, I mean you never see each other!
I really say: Deployments present their own challenges.
I’d like to say: 
Silly Question:  He’s gone so much… I mean, what do you do for sex?
I really say: Wait.
Follow up silly Question: You don’t, like, have a boyfriend?  Don’t you all cheat?
Then I think:
I really say:  No and NO.  We do NOT all cheat.  
I really want to say:
 
No, but seriously, people.  We don’t cheat.  We get very creative with technology.  God bless the creators of email and skype.  
But then a girl I semi-know, whose husband is deployed with mine, walks over and introduces me to her boyfriend, and later that week her girlfriend, and I’m all:
Silly Question: But you do go out when he’s gone, right?  I mean you can’t stay home the whole year.
I really say:  Not really.  I spend the whole time thinking I might miss him on skype.
I imagine: 
Silly Statement:  You know you shouldn’t stress eat through this deployment.
I really say:  Oh yeah?  (While my mouth is full).
What I’d like to say:
Silly Statement:  Your husband is deployed?  You poor thing.  I bet you must worry and really want him to come home.  I could never send my husband!  You must need a hug!
I really say: Yes, I worry, and no hugs needed.
I really think:  
Because on Sunday night, when Game of Thrones is on and I realize I’ve survived another week, it’s more like this: 
But the silly statements don’t always come from non-mil spouses.
Silly Mil-Spouse statement:  You’re fourth deployment?!  Geeze, my husband’s been in 16 years and he’s managed to only go once!
I really say:  Nothing.  There’s just nothing to say that would come out politely.
I really think: 
         And maybe a little bit of:
Silly Statement:  Wouldn’t you love to be surprised on one of those welcome home shows?
I really say:  Heck no.  We have a routine, and I have to clean the house and shave my legs.
What it would really do to me: 
Silly Question: Your husband came home yesterday!  Aren’t you worried he’ll have to go back soon?
I really say:  I’m just happy he’s home.
I really think: 
But you’ve already ruined my emotional high, so now I’m all:
Silly Statement:  I can’t believe you let your husband deploy.  War is so wrong.  You know he’s killing innocent people, right?
I really say:  Well, this conversation might not end well.
I’d Like to say: 
 
NOW, my absolutely most detested question:

Silly Question:  No, really, has your husband actually killed people?
I really say:  What answer are you hoping for here?
(THIS, peeps, is the one question you’ll get me angry on).
What I’d really like to say:

         First, I’m all:

        Then I go to:

       Then I fight the urge to stop acting lady-like
And I would just really, really like to: 
 But finally, in reality it goes:

So there you go.  In brief recap:  Yes, our country is still at war, no my life is not like that show, Yes, I miss my husband, worry about my husband, hate that he’s gone.  But I pull it together, and in the words of Miranda Lambert, I hide my crazy and act like a lady.  Yes, I hate that his job is war, and I hate that he’s good at it as much as I’m thankful because it means that he comes home alive.  Oh, and he’s probably the best bet in a zombie apocalypse.

Mmmkay?  Excellent.

We never want to answer questions like this because we don’t want to hurt your feelings.  We know that we live in a subculture that can be hard to understand, but if you really want to help out a military spouse, lend a quiet ear, a helpful heart, or donate a bottle of wine. 
In reality, we’re just like you; we just happen to be married to a guy who goes to war for a living.  Just avoid the silly questions and ask the real ones.  Ask about where we went to college.  Ask what we do with our lives and our careers.  Ask about our kids, our family, our jobs and interests and you’ll find we are so much more than just wives.

And yes.  It’s all worth it, because we love these men we’re married to, with or without this uniform.  Just no silly questions while we’re waiting for my kid to wake up from a brain scan, mmmmkay?  Okay.

24 Comments on “What Not to Ask a Military Wife”

  1. JBodnarDrowley

    Love this Rebecca!!!But I have to say that I watched the first few seasons of Army wives and some of it feels oddly familiar…maybe we AF wives are a tad more cray-cray! LOL! Just kidding…sort of 😉 I can't count how many times I have been asked these questions…Your answers are cracking me up!!!!!

    1. Rebecca

      Thanks, Jamie! One day I'll have to try out one of these answers in real life just to see the reaction. 😉

    1. Rebecca

      Oh, there are some priceless ones! Some times you have to smile and just say "bless your little heart…"

  2. Jennifer Rook

    LOL yep and that's the stupid questions we get. Yeah when someone complains about one day away or a weekend away, i'm thinking "yeah the littlest violin is not playing for you! try getting sympathy somewhere else." ha! It would be hilarious to hear Sheldon's smart ass comments to these crazy questions and statements!If you do a volume two let me know, I'll throw a few in there too LOL!

    1. Sharon Dozack

      I am just reading this one now and it is May, so I'm sorry for the delay. There is a girl on my friends list, (daughter of a friend) whose boyfriend is in the Marines and he was deployed for 9 months. There were SO many times I wanted to say "suck it up cupcake", but stopped my fingers from typing because she was a naive 20 year old. It was best to think what you were thinking and not type it, but let the replies run rampantly through my head!

  3. jessika fleck

    Love this! Not sure if I've ever shared, but my husband was in the Army for 7 years and went to Afghanistan in '04 – 6 weeks before our first daughter was born…um yeah. That year I got a lot of these questions and then some. My favorite (always asked with the best of intentions, but…) was, "I could never do it! How are you doing it? And ALL ALONE?" Yeah…Oh and the "I miss my boyfriend/husband/whatever, he's been working nonstop all weekend!" Oh man…being a lady can really test one's self-control. 😉 Yes, don't ask, just send wine. Thinking of you and following your posts… xo

  4. Jess Torrez

    Great! Even though my S.O. is just DOD deployed, I still receive the same questions and cringe. My brain wants to spew some smart-mouth answer but my lips remain ever the lady! Thank you so much for the wonderful and relate-able post! I am definitely going to be reading more!

  5. Kira =]

    Love your post! This is the gif that came to mind when I read- And I would just really, really like to:http://gifsoup.com/view/31133/ever-after-punch.html

  6. Ashley

    I'm jealous you get to Skype. My husband's in the Navy and is currently on deployment. We can't Skype. I can talk on the phone maybe once every two weeks. Your post is awesome and dead on. I laughed and understood. I also have a brother in the Army on deployment. Tough times.

  7. Carina

    Well, you have me running frantically through my memory for all the things I've said to my mil. wife friends. I hope, hope, hope I was never such a jerk as to make it to that list. God bless your family and bless your husband. Seeing all those handsome little fellows in the picture, it looks like he already has. =)

  8. Kelley Harvey

    I was a Navy wife and then I was in the USAF… really the ONLY thing someone should say to you is "Thank you and your spouse for your service to our Nation." That is all.Oh, except… "Thank you for you and your spouse's service to our Nation. We are grateful."Blessings to you…. and this totally cracked me up, great gifs!

  9. notesfromthebackseat

    I had so many people ask "How are you feeling?" right after my husband left that they started emailing my husband to ask him why I was in such a bad mood… Like seriously? What was I supposed to say? My answer was always "My husband is in a combat zone, how do you thing I'm feeling?" It's our first deployment and in the beginning I was a hot mess and then some. I kept my crazy to myself for the most part, but honestly, what answer were they expecting and then emailing my husband to ask him why I was upset, REALLY?!?! Like he needed that.

  10. B

    Oh man. These are all certainly "Bless your heart!" questions. I'm sorry people can be so tactless and ignorant, but I'm glad you keep a sense of humor about it 🙂

  11. silentrankmn

    I absolutely LOVE this! We've only been through one deployment and that year felt like 5 when you added in all the crazy from the people around me lol you should have heard some of the questions after our son was born!! [7 weeks before he got home] Thanks for sharing and hats off to your and your family!!

  12. Maffi

    Sorry but couldnt finish reading this so it was wasted on me. The movie clips were most anoying an I dont think they added anything to what I did read.

  13. lovedlikethechurch.com

    My brother is in the Navy and dude does my SIL have some crazy stories to tell of the stupid things people say. One of my favorites is when my brother was home and they were talking to another military wife who was lamenting that her husband had to leave for two months when my brother remarks "Oh, we laugh at those people. Two months? Ha! Pansy."Seriously. He said that. I love him all the more for it. Haha!

  14. Stormy

    Well done, Rebecca! Military people are just people; with the same needs, concerns, and everything else the rest of us have. Love you all…and I cannot respect anyone more than military spouses for your own decisions. You can come here and 'borrow' my wine any day of the week.

  15. movie girl

    YOU ARE FANTASTIC! And I love your humor & style. And mostly, thank you for your sacrifice. My family & I appreciate what your husband, you, & your children do for our nation.

  16. Fe Adamsonn

    I just totally love your article. I also got the same questions from people I come across. It's not easy to tell what you feel and experience as a military wife but I always do my best to answer them with grace even though I have completely opposite answer in mind. The way you present your thoughts are it is really awesome.

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