Saturday, February 16, 2008

Things NOT to say to a military wife/girlfriend

Things NOT to say to a military spouse or girlfriend.. (#14 is thebest!)

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?"

(This one ranks in at number one on the "duh" list. Of course we'reafraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds ---but thanks brilliant, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they're scared of dying.)

2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."

(This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here's why: it's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.)

3. "At least he's not in Iraq."

(This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening inAfghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.)

4. "Do you think he'll get to come home forChristmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/familyreunion, etc?"

(Don't you watch the news? No! They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.)

5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"

(Short answer: Trying to keep my sanity. For those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don't get bored, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.)

6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"

(This one is REALLY annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.)

7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."

(Sure, we do learn coping skills and its true the more deployments you've gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. Butit never gets "easy" and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.)

8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through."

(OK. Do NOT equate your husband's three week trip toLondon/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 12-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do NOT feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a shitty ford taurus with mercedes convertible. )

9. "Wow you must miss him?"

(This one also gets antoher big "duh". Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they're now divorced.)

10. "Where is he exactly? Where is that?"

(I don't expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Provinceon a map, but they should know by now that it's in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada alSadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Know that Iran is a major threat to our country and that it is located between Afghanistan and Iraq. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for seven years and at war in Iraq for five years. These basic facts are not secrets, they're on the news every night and in the papers every day ---and on maps everywhere.)

11. "Well, he signed up for it, so it's his own fault what everhappens over there."

(Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn't sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that "You're welcome." He's still fighting for your freedom.)

12. "Don't you miss sex! I couldn't do it!"

(hmmm, no i don't miss sex. i'm a robot. seriously... military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most 'normal' relationships probably couldn't withstand 12 months of sex deprivation. )

13. "Well in my opinion..... "

(Stop right there. Yo, I didn't ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in thegrocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a bar when I'm out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our asses off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President, esp. while we're trying to heat up our lean cuisines in the crappy office microwaves.)

last but not least....

14. "OH, that's horrible...I' m so sorry!"

(He's doing his job and he's a badass. Don't be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our soldiers fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad.)

(borrowed from a friend...thanks, Lily!)


Laura said...

They are all so true...unfortunately, in most cases people just do not know what to say.

My heart goes out to all those serving and their families. May they all be safe.

Jane said...

I completely agree.....all are VERY stupid things to ask.
When we lost our 20 year old son in a plane crash I will never forget a woman saying to me, "I read that more people die in cars than in planes"!!!! I guess she thought that would help me somehow!
I so appreciate your husband's service and pray God's blessing on him and on you and your children.

MondaythroughSunday said...

People say such goofy things! Why do we feel we need to say something! Good grief! LOVE..the golden rule is a good thing to live by. Do you want such goofy things said to you?...NO!!

I grew up as an army brat..I liked it but it was hard..the moving around part.

I so appreciate those who are in our military!!

forgetfulone said...

When I first had my twins, there were similar sayings, as I'm sure you've heard them all having six kids, that totally got on my nerves. No, no one who hasn't been exactly in our shoes, your shoes, knows what it's like and shouldn't pretend to know. I think people sometimes don't know what to say, but in those cases, they shouldn't say anything. And yes, they are fighting over there to KEEP it over there and fighting for our right to say ignorant things. So very true. I enjoyed this post. And could you tell your husband thank you?

Wendy said...

Oh Laura, I'm laughing so hard at some of the responses, they're so perfect! It's a shame that more people don't engage their brains before opening their mouths.

And I definitely love #14 (He's doing his job and he's a badass.) You're darn skippy. ;)

Tina said...

I guess you never know what someone is going thru until you've been in their shoes. I think people for the most part have good intentions but if they're anything like me, they stumble over trying to find the words to show compassion or empathy.

Thank you for being a wife who gives her husband up so he can serve my country. I don't take our boys for granted. Or their families!

Thanks for coming by my blog today. There is a great community of bloggers that are always there to support.

Have a great one!

mylhibug said...

Some people just don't think.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be a spouse of someone that gets deployed. I was single when I served, I guess I figured it would be easier, plus I was pretty much a kid, right? No career for me.

Now my brothers, on the other hand, are both career Air Force and would't change a thing. Except maybe fewer trips to Afghanistan, where one is right now.

SD Sue said...

Oh, my, how dumb can people be? My 24 year old son just graduated from Officer Candidate School and is volunteering for the Rangers so he can go to "where the action is". When he graduated from Basic Training a VietNam vet stopped him on the street and thanked him for serving "our country", my son was so proud to be in the Army and to be thanked for his service. We live in a city with a National Guard Camp and an Air Force Base and I try to thank every uniformed person that I see in town for their service to "our country". You tell your husband we really appreciate his service and I really appreciate you for the sacrifice that you make every time someone asks you a dumb question about your husband's service.

Sniz said...

This is such a timely, wise post and a way to educate people about this in a non-threatening way. I hope people who are saying those things read this.