11 Things Not To Say To A Military Spouse

what not to say to military spouses

A military spouse who lives in a not-so-military town is bound to attract the curiosity and intrigue of neighbors. Military families usually love sharing details of their lives with interested civilians. But sometimes that curiosity and intrigue can take awkward, irritating or wildly offensive forms. AOL Jobs asked a handful of military spouses what irksome things civilians often say to them, and we've compiled the top 11.

Even though these remarks can grate, Jacey Eckhart, the editor of military spouse blog SpouseBUZZ, and author of several books on military spousehood, says she'd prefer civilians said grating things than, for fear of being grating, didn't say anything at all. "I'd rather err on the side of being included and treated like a normal person than any weird special behavior," she says. "We pride ourselves on being resilient."

More: 7 Struggles Of Military Spouses You've Never Thought About

And if a person wants to understand the military spouse's life better, but doesn't know how to approach it sensitively, Eckhart suggests starting the conversation with, "I bet you've met some really wonderful people."

1. Has s/he killed someone?

It may sound obvious, but this question gets asked frequently. In most cases, a military spouse does not want to discuss whether his or her loved one is responsible for the death of a human being in casual conversation. "That's like asking a woman if she's had an abortion," says Eckhart.

2. Aren't you so glad s/he's home?

If you weren't glad your life partner was home, you probably aren't the best life partners. Lori Volkman, a military spouse who writes the blog, Witty Little Secret, says she feels the question whitewashes all the struggles of transition, as if there aren't months of hard work ahead to refigure everything back into some kind of normal.

3. I don't know how you do it!

Military spouses don't have insides made of steel. They haven't 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," as a military spouse writes on the blog, A Soldier's Perspective. They aren't missing the genes for loneliness or fear or suffering. They just fell in love with a person who chose to serve, and they're dealing with it the best they can.

More: Military Spouse: One Woman's Journey

4. Your husband is in Afghanistan? I thought Obama brought them home!

Afghanistan and Iraq are not the same thing.

5. Are you and the kids going to visit?

If your spouse is deployed in a place like Afghanistan, you probably won't throw the children in the back of an RV and barrel through a Middle Eastern desert, dodging the occasional IED.

6. How can s/he fight in such an evil war that's killed so many innocent people and was all about oil anyway?

Civilians will often volunteer their political positions on war to military spouses. But for most members of the military, their service isn't about serving any politician or ideology; it's about serving their country, period. "They don't always separate the act of the service member from world leaders who make decisions," says Volkman. "They tend to lump the military into one big category."

7. I know how you feel. My husband was gone for a month/a week/a weekend.

Your spouse going away on a two-week business trip in Geneva is not the same as your spouse going away for a 12-month deployment in the deserts of Afghanistan. In the first case, your spouse may bring home a box of gourmet chocolates. In the second, s/he may bring home a shrapnel-studded leg.

8. Don't you miss sex???

"Hmmm, no i don't miss sex. i'm a robot," as a military spouse writes on the blog, A Soldier's Perspective. "Military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex."

10. Well, you did marry him knowing this would happen.

There's no way to predict the potential costs you'll face with a spouse in the military: the missed anniversaries and lonely Christmases; physical wounds and mental trauma; giving birth to your first child with your partner halfway across the world. There's no way to plan for the sleepless nights and panicked phone calls. Signing your family up for service isn't signing away your right to hate it sometimes.

11. Oh yeah, the will is good. You guys die all the time.

This one comes from a poster on Scary Mommy, who was greeted with this line when she and her husband filled out his will together. When talking to a military spouse, it's probably best to avoid comments/jokes/songs/or any other form of vocal expression that make casual reference to his or her higher risk of widowhood.

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Isaiah Christopher R

And that is why I don't want to associate myself to negative people,because most likely you will absolutely hear these stupid questions from them.As a wife of an Active Duty,our way of life ain't easy..but it is what it is,we stand strong and deal with it.

February 06 2014 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I Pray for America's Military Men and Woman. If it were not for them we would be over run or slaves to other Nations. We would not have Freedom if our Military Men and Woman did not protect us. It reminds me of a Bible story I read. GOD was walking with a Prophet when they came upon numerous Bones. The Prophet ask GOD why all these Men and Woman Bones were there. GOD replied, these are my people who gave their Life for me and I will restore and reward them. Now Look and see, all of a sudden the Bones stood up right and began to piece together and grow flesh on them. Next the Men and Woman were alive and at attention to GOD. GOD had restore their Lives, rewarded those who did as GOD asked and they were Glorified. GOD said to the Prophet, these are my Soldiers whom defended those who Love me and those who could not defend themselves. My Soldiers will live forever while their enemies will suffer eternal Damnation and the fires of Hell. He who has ears should hear what GOD says to his people. GOD BLESS the U.S.A. Military, all those who seek GOD'S face and those who defend GOD'S will. Keep up the good work and remember, those who believe in GOD are your Brothers and Sisters. Love, Michael.

July 25 2013 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is a common thread of humanity that runs through the lives of everyone who is uncertain or unsure about what their loved ones in the military are experiencing and those in the civilian world who face similar situations. Until you have experienced some of the worst of both worlds - you can't understand how one really can empathize with the other. I am a military retiree / veteran and I have experienced both. As long as people show they care enough to ask questions or make comments it is a good thing. It's when they stop caring enough to say or ask anything that we should become truly concerned.

March 28 2013 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not only civilians have issues understanding deployments. My wife had some trouble sleeping during my deployment. She went to the base hospital and requested a sleeping aid. They attempted to refer her for psychiatric treatment and give her anti-psychotic drugs. I had to call the Hospital Commander and have him knock it.

March 28 2013 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Claire Gordon. She writes the most interesting articles.

December 17 2012 at 3:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can a retired SEA vet get in here?
All are valid in this list. NO one knows how you feel.

I once told my wife, if the news reported anything concerning the locations I was at, TRY not to worry unless she got a knock on the door and saw a Chaplain and an NCO standing there. All she said was, "Thanks, that's not much help!" Nope, it isn't much help.

BUT, the one that really ripped me when both my son's were in the desert was, "Better yours then mine!"
That is something NO ONE wants to hear! Is your child really worth more then mine? I think not. At least mine is serving his country! What is yours doing?

October 23 2012 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only one on this list that bugs me is "I know how you feel." No - you have no idea how I feel when the news reports that 3 service people were hit in an insurgent raid and the names are being held pending notification of next of kin. You have no idea how it feels to sit on a bed of tire spikes awaiting a call or notification of some kind for 24 to 72 hours. And you have NO idea of the horror of simultaneous relief and guilt at the feeling that "OMG - it wasn't him" that is capped with the realization that it may not be him, but it was someone's child, parent, or sibling. The rest of the comments, I can handle with an amused look or a smarty-pants comment. This one - I have to walk away without comment or retort. My fears are not for public display - but no, you most certainly do not know how I feel.

October 23 2012 at 4:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HUMMM! Interesting but the same ole same ole on certain levels. But having said that,
in reading International News, I thought we were bedded down in Iraq in depth. There to stay!
Also there are many levels in the military, much like Civilian and I am not speaking of rank and file.
Then to, it would be positive for THE AMERICAN PEOPLE to distinguish, Military Complex
that has taken over and our Military Serving! Some merchant class , as such, take advantage
of our young in the military by overcharging and such.
Speaking of our Military, it has an amazing History for such a young Nation also if we were not
for our constant warfare, it would be positive for our young to serve even two years, in the Army,
after High School. The good Sarge's, they say, are still around. and we have many young
people, on the loose and too many in prison that should not be. Please think about that for
a change of pace. Also teach our young what our Nation is about, along with the responsibility
it takes to keep US above water.

October 22 2012 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a stupid list. I've been a military spouse for over a decade. If you can't field simple questions or you get offended by these questions then you shouldn't be married to the military. Who cares if you get asked questions?? For most people our lifestyle is completely foreign. Let them ask and then respond appropriately; even if that's, "I'd rather not discuss that. It's a sensitive subject." People in general need to get over themselves and stop trying to be so PC.

October 22 2012 at 4:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think #2 (Aren't you so glad s/he's home?) and #3. (I don't know how you do it!) are a little on the catty side - obviously the asker is trying to show empathy. Anyone who would be insulted by either of those questions is also a jerk. I can see getting upset about the other questions but geez when did it become rude to show empathy?

October 22 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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