There was resentment. There was bitterness. There were insults, name calling, generalizations, and discussions about topics like pay, status symbols, and who has a harder life; who makes the bigger sacrifices.
No, I’m not talking about the “mommy wars.”
I’m talking about the conversations between (mostly) active duty women and female spouses of soldiers and sailors. There were new players, but the crux of the argument was still the same. Each group felt they lived the most difficult life, that they deserved more recognition because of their own separate challenges.
I wrote a piece that outlined how I handle this aspect of my life. And many readers commented, saying that they understood because they also used many of these same strategies to move forward during difficult times. It was awesome to read how others also felt how I do; how they create a system to handle challenges, how they often feel at their limit, how they need their friends and especially, how they are so proud of their children.
Others used my article as a jumping off board, as a forum where they could insult and berate the title of “military spouse.” Where they could call us entitled, hollow, self-righteous whiners. Of course, military spouses argued back. I don’t mind the criticism or debate. We are all entitled to our own opinions, based on our own experiences. We can’t all agree on everything. But wow…the insults.
So many readers had so much to say. Our blog crashed on the second day after the piece was published, and after calls to our host, we put it back up at a faster speed. Our daily numbers soared through the roof, and since last Tuesday, haven’t slowed down.
And two words began to emerge in the conversation.
Comments kept circling back to these two words. Some readers felt that I was writing as a victim, that I wanted pity because of the challenges I’ve faced in my years as a military wife.
Some talked about the subculture of military spouses, about how we as a group need to feel special in order to be successful. There were a few active duty men who explained that their wives were their rock; a special group of women who held them up through tough and unpredictable times, who pulled their family together during long separations.
But then, there were the active duty women. Some of these women were upset at the spouses for using the word “special,” (a word that was not in my piece, by the way.) These active duty soldiers and sailors argued that their life was harder, that they faced the difficult challenges, that we as spouses have a cushy and comfortable life, doing chores and buying groceries.
We all come from different perspectives. Some of us are stay at home parents, others are not. Some of us have children, and others do not. We all have challenges. But we cannot make this into a competition, about whose life is harder, about who has it worse. Active duty personnel put their life on the line on a regular basis. That is a huge sacrifice.
But military spouses give up things, too.
But that’s not what my piece was about. I don’t want to talk about whose life is harder.
It is unfortunate that through this conversation, there was so much bitterness. So much resentment. So much anger. I didn’t expect that from a community that preaches teamwork, that comes together with patriotism when ships pull into port or airplanes land at airports, welcoming soldiers home.
Our community, whether active duty or spouse, whether male or female, all struggle. I cannot, obviously, write from an active duty standpoint, but from what I have seen, active duty face serious challenges maintaining personal relationships and finding balance in their lives between their calling as a soldier and their family.
And spouses face different challenges. We live an unpredictable life, a life where we are married, but often don’t feel that way, a life where we want to have some stabilization, but we can’t. I know that sometimes I envy the husbands who get home at six, who can have dinner with their families, who don’t leave for work before the sun rises.
Does that mean I want pity? No.
Does that mean I view myself as a victim? Of course not.
But it’s a little sad. Sometimes it’s a lot sad.
Of course other people have it worse. But that doesn’t mean that I, or others in similar situations can’t miss their spouses. My husband is the love of my life. When you marry someone, it’s because you want to spend as much time as possible with them. And when something keeps yanking that time away, it’s frustrating. There is never enough time.
It’s not because I need him to mow the grass, or take out the trash, (although that is nice) it’s because he’s my best friend. And without him, there’s a hole in my life. So life becomes more stressful, because sometimes, when I want my partner, my love, to help me through life or to share it with me, he just can’t.
There’s no victimization or feeling special there. It’s just heartbreaking. For both of us.
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