Woman covering her mouth

10 Things Never to Say to a Milspouse: Blog Brigade Edition

I’m pretty sure that one of my teachers somewhere between kindergarten and college told me that there is no such thing as a stupid question. When I became a teacher myself, I tried to adopt this philosophy, but it turns out that stupid questions are alive and well.

If my stint in the classroom left me with any doubts, becoming a military spouse gave me a big fat affirmative on the existence of stupid questions. It’s not that the individuals asking these questions are trying to be mean; most often they are just misinformed because they haven’t experienced many of the things that are second nature to us as military spouses.

Maybe you’ve had one (or all) of these questions or (unsolicited) comments hurled at you, or maybe you’ve just heard rumors that they exist. Either way, one thing is for sure, any one of these 10 questions or comments is cause enough for an eye roll that could rival that of a moody teenager followed by the classic, “Don’t get me started.”

  1. My spouse has been gone all weekend; I really miss him/her. Sorry, but “missing” your spouse for 48 hours when you are still in the same time zone and can call each other anytime is not even in the same ballpark as enduring a deployment of anything from a month to a year. It’s OK though; we’re tough enough to handle it, and that’s something we’re pretty proud of!
  2. Why doesn’t your spouse just get out? Now there’s a loaded question! Maybe because there is a lot to think about when it comes to contracts, promotion timelines, retirement pay, benefits, the civilian job market and the whole volunteering to serve the country thing. The military is a job, yes, but it means a lot more to the men and women in uniform. 
  3. That’s so exciting that you’re moving again! If only you knew how exciting. Have you ever counted how many military bases are plopped right in the middle of vacation hot spots? You’ll probably only need one hand to count that high. While moving is what you make it, and every installation has the potential to feel like home, it’s tough readjusting, making new friends and possibly moving farther away from family.
  4. I don’t know how you do it! We do it because our family counts on us. We just happened to fall in love with a man or woman in uniform, and this is just part of the deal. When you love someone, you do what you have to do. We make it work because it’s worth it to us.
  5. The military is to blame…Just hold it right there! It doesn’t matter what the last half of this sentence is; it’s going to be bad. No matter what someone’s political views are, he or she should understand that our husbands and wives are doing their job. Violence and danger don’t exist because we have a military, quite the opposite; violence and danger are why we need a military. Our men and women in uniform are the only things keeping that danger out of our own backyards. So blaming the military for doing a job they were ordered to do is no different than blaming doctors for the existence of the flu.
  6. What if…your spouse gets injured, doesn’t come home from deployment or misses the birth of your child? There is really no way that a “what if” question is going to have a happy ending. We face every day with all of the positivity we can muster, and drawing attention to the worst case scenario isn’t helpful for anyone.
  7. I’m so busy, tired and overworked. If your spouse is deployed, you’re handling the kids, the pets, the house, your job and everything that broke the first week of deployment, so you have every right to feel however you want! If you’re in the middle of a deployment and someone with a typical case of the Mondays says this to you, you have every right to laugh…hard…at them (not with them).
  8. Why do/don’t you have a job? There is no such thing as the “military spouse type.” We are all different. We have different career goals, backgrounds and priorities. Some of us choose to work because we want to; some of us work because we have to. And some of us don’t work because job markets in the area are slim pickings, we’re there for a short time or we simply put other priorities ahead of a career. Whatever we decide is right for us and our family is our business.
  9. At least your spouse isn’t deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. If you’ve turned on the news lately, you know that danger isn’t isolated to two countries in the Middle East. The dangers our spouses face during a deployment are only half of our burden though. Whether our spouses are away for training on the other side of the country or they’re on the front lines, we are still juggling everything at home; it’s never a vacation for us or our spouses who have to be away from us.
  10. You’re lucky! The government pays for everything. There’s more attention to this topic now than there ever has been in recent memory. Let’s just clear that up. Nobody pays for “everything.” Our spouses get a salary and a housing allowance. It’s up to us to budget that money no matter where we are in the world. We pay bills just like everyone else. Money can be tight at times just like everyone else. And any benefit that the “government pays for” is well-deserved. Anyone complaining that military families receive too much is welcome to sign up and join the luxurious lifestyle!
Kristi Stolzenberg
Written By Kristi Stolzenberg
Marine Spouse

Kristi started writing for Blog Brigade as a new Milspouse in 2008, and all of a sudden, she’s a seasoned (but not overly salty) Marine spouse.

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  • Angie Yount says:

    I couldn’t say it better myself!! I’m sharing on FB right now!

  • Janiçe Warden says:

    It takes special people to handle military life. Having been a muilitary wife, I know how hard it can be to run a household alone, being a wife, mother, bill payer, housekeeper, handyman, etc. It takes a lot of strength & willpower to do it and love.

  • Sarah Jones says:

    Great–and the last sentence is my favorite!

  • Teresa Dupepe says:

    Here is a question I got as a working spouse with a husband deployed in Iraq: Why can’t your husband call you during non-working hours?
    My reply: He is in a WAR ZONE if I am so lucky to hear his voice I will ALWAYS take his call! ALWAYS!

  • Melanie Bang says:

    I have tons of respect for the military and their families who sacrifice so much. But, this article is terrible! It makes it sound like no one else has anything to complain about. Like military families have the corner in the market of suffering. Ridiculous ! You cannot judge someone else’s life and decide you have the right to laugh at their pain.

  • stephanie says:

    you hit the nail right on the head with these. thanks

  • Amber says:

    I am not a military spouse, but I do understand stupid questions. Having had 8 miscarriages and looking into adoptions, I could give you a long list of “helpful” suggestions and insensitive questions! Let me say this though: I welcome that over the silence. Most people will avoid talking to me about it out of fear of saying the wrong thing, or feeling uncomfortable. So, I have learned to be forgiving, have patience and realize that they are ignorant or naive. I especially welcome the questions! The stupid, unhelpful suggestions from people are a little harder. At least with questions, they are admitting they don’t know something.

  • Chris says:

    Melanie Bang, your comment shows you have no clue. No where in this did it say that no one else can have pain or that they are laughed at…what it’s saying is so many of us military wives get sick of these questions. I’m an Army wife of 16 plus years, 5 deployments, and let me tell you, these questions come up over and over.
    What this article says is that people ask these stupid questions, over and over again.

  • Molly says:

    Add in “At least he’s not deployed.” To that list. My husband is an Air Force Military Training Instructor and is often gone 16 hours a day or even just stopping by to sleep and change clothes. I have been through 7 deployments and that wasn’t easy but I’m just as much a single mom like this as I was when he deployed. If you are doing it all you are doing it all and little ones still don’t understand why daddy wasn’t here when they woke up and won’t be home when they go to bed no matter what the reason is. Yes, I’m glad he is currently not in a war zone but sometimes I am very jealous of my civilian friends who have 9-5 husbands who are home for dinner, weekends, birthdays and holidays!

  • Lou says:

    I agree with Melanie. I am a military spouse and I was offended by this article. You should never compare your situation to others and you should never belittle the struggles that someone else is facing. It’s not the same but peoples struggles are real and genuine and many people outside of the military have harder lives than we can even begin to imagine. If someone is attempting to sympathize with you or console you even if they do a poor job you should appreciate that they care and are trying. If someone had tried to get me to understand military life before I lived it I wouldn’t have been able to understand so maybe we should all be more gracious. Also a very poor attitude to take is one that I deserve this or deserve that. We chose this life and we choose it every day so let’s live it as gracefully as we can and not act so conceited.

  • Courtney says:

    I’m not sure how ya’ll could be offended by this article?!!? #1 and #7 are the only two questions/comments that could refer to anyone else’s “hardships”. Missing someone for 48 hours (like author stated) really is NOTHING compared to 7-12 months of missing spouse/feeling alone. That’s just common sense. As far as #7, yes, possibly offensive to someone who has it worse..such as medical problems, ailing parents, disabled children…however, military spouses face these issues as well…and we do it alone. Come on now. Quit trying to argue and take the article for what it is. I’ll now retreat to my corner that’s made special for me and my suffering 🙂 LOL

  • Debra says:

    Haha! Love it!
    And… Completely agreeing with Courtney’s comment! However, to offer a little more support regarding #7, Kristi CLEARLY states, “someone with a typical case of the Mondays.” I personally took that as the “routine complainer,” whether co-worker, friend, or family member… NOT someone who may be facing true difficulties or struggles in their life & needing someone to vent/talk to!

  • Katie says:

    It’s a lot harder in the civilian world. You don’t have Mommy Military watching out for you to make sure you have clothes on your backs or food in your belly. I am the “trifecta” of the military, my father served, I served, and now my husband serves, so I know the different situations, and I also know that for every hardship we have, we have several options to help.

    Be GRATEFUL that you have such a good life in the military who takes very good care of you. In the civilian world they could give a darn less whether you sink or swim.

    It’s hard being a “single mother” during deployment? Don’t make me gag- you are NOT a single mother, you still benefit from your spouse’s income from his/her deployment, not to mention you have ever single person on base waiting in the wings to help you, not to mention this wonderful site militaryonesource.mil.

    You have to PCS? Ha, welcome to the real world, many jobs will voluntell you to relocate. Over 20% of the US population moves to another state within 10 years, and they don’t have TMO packing their stuff for free.

    Stop being a whiny stereotype, it’s posts like these that give military spouses and service members a bad name.

  • Anne says:

    I very much appreciated Kristi’s article and disagree with the nay Sayers. The fact is, the “blog brigade” is a forum for military spouses and the blogs address things from a military spouse perspective. Not a civilian spouse perspective. It was a clever article and very on point. It also provides the opportunity for other spouses, some who may be going through a difficult deployment currently, to know they are not alone. In fact, it may help them handle the insensitive comments more gracefully to know they are not alone in experiencing them. Katie I think you were a little harsh and perhaps too far the other direction. Keep up the great work Kristi, love your blogs!