Things You Should and Should Not, Say To A Military Wife

I don't have any personal experiences with a husband, father, or brother in the military. Lately, I have been working with a number of women who are dealing with husbands (and family members) who are serving our country. A lot of what they need help working through has to do with what OTHER PEOPLE SAY TO THEM. Comments and words that make their circumstances extra hard to deal with.

People are for the most part, trying to be supportive and understanding. Sometimes the comments come out wrong, or we are nervous, or just trying to relate.

The following lists AND the comments were written by a military wife. I have found that the women I work with hear these same questions all. the. time. It is a good reminder of the things that we should avoid saying. 
Last semester I had three students who had husbands overseas. I heard every single one of these questions/comments asked to them by other students.

1. I don't know how you do it.
Well, guess what? In all honesty, I don't know how I do it either. I just do. Because really, what other choice do I have?

2. I could never deal with it if my husband was gone for that long.
Hmmm...how does hearing how someone else can't deal with it help me to deal with it?

3. Are you scared that something may happen to him while he's there?
This one has always really perplexed me. Of course, I'm scared. I wouldn't be human if I wasn't. But being reminded of the fact that something may happen to him doesn't help me out.

4. Do you miss him?
Every time I was asked this, I just wanted to respond "Oh, no, definitely not. I like it when he's gone. It gives me the chance to be all by myself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who wouldn't want that?" Of course, I miss him. Wouldn't you miss your husband?

5. I know just how you feel. My husband was on a business trip last month for three days and I just thought I would die.
Unless his business trip was to a place where everyone is openly carrying a gun in the street trying to kill him and suicide bombers and roadside bombs are prevalent, its not remotely close to being the same.

6. Do you worry about him cheating on you? 
Well, people, it is a little thing called self control. That and a love for my husband and respect for my marriage. Do some people cheat? Sure they do - both here in the states and overseas. But people cheat in civilian marriages too.

7. How can you sleep at night knowing your husband is a murderer? Are you afraid when he comes home?
This one sets me off more than any other. Have they had to kill someone? Quite possibly. But there are a great many soldiers who never have. It's not something they talk about in daily conversation.They are in a war zone and following orders. I have never once even had the thought that I should be afraid of my husband because he is a soldier.

8. I'm so sorry your husband had to be deployed. Don't you just hate the President?
My husband joined the military knowing full well that he would probably be deployed. The President may be the one running the show, but my husband knew what he was getting into when he joined.

9. If you truly supported your husband, you would be protesting so he wouldn't have to deploy again/could be brought home/the war would end.
Supporting my husband means supporting him in what he does and what he believes in. It does not mean disrespecting the men and women who volunteered to defend our country and our rights. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have the right to protest in the first place.

10. I can't believe your husband did this to you. Aren't you mad at him?
Um, what?! My husband didn't do anything to me. He honors his agreements and he follows the orders of his superiors. There's certainly nothing sad or maddening about having a husband who fulfills his commitments.


"I'm making ________for dinner tonight. Why don't you and the kids come have dinner with us?" - Don't pretend like everything is normal, but don't ignore us.  Invite us to BBQs, family dinners, ball games and other activities. And don't talk about the war when we're with you. Give us the chance to have a normal afternoon/evening with our family and friends. It's one of the best things you can do for us.

"I'm going to the grocery store/post office/mall can I pick up something for you?" - Running a household and a family by yourself when your partner is gone is hard. Very hard. Sometimes it's just too much effort to get out and run errands. Sometimes we are waiting for a phone call or an Internet chat, sometimes we are just too worn down to face traffic and shopping and normal life. 
"I'd like to send a letter/card/package to your spouse. Can I have his/her address?" - Don't forget about our spouses. They are working hard in deplorable conditions and often they do not get the supplies they need. Send letters/cards/photos from home. Send dry socks too, they can never get enough of those.
"I'll take this meeting/cover your shift/let the boss know where you're going" -When we do get that phone call we've been waiting for cut us some slack and help out a little so we can talk to our spouses for as long as they can talk to us.
"Let's get a cup of coffee" - When you can see that we're edging down Depression Road and haven't gotten off the couch in a few days or have stopped bothering to shower everyday force us to get out and get back into life again. Drag us back into the world again even if it's just for a cup of coffee.
"I don't know what you're going through, but I want to help. What do you need?"- You don't have to try and sympathize. It's okay to not know what it's like to have your spouse deployed. Just ask how you can help. We'll tell you what you can do and what we need.
"Call me anytime you need to talk" - We need people to lean on. At 3 AM when you've been up for days willing the phone to ring so hard you almost convince yourself you hear it ring and you obsessively check the computer for email or an IM and the dark thoughts of disaster start creeping into your mind having someone to talk to can banish the "what if's" and help us gain some much needed perspective.

Thank you" - We don't do this for thanks, but even a small acknowledgment is nice.

Military or not, it is a good reminder to think before we talk, and be considerate of the fact that we never really understand what someone else is going through.  

Is there anything else we should add to the list?
How can we better support woman and families who have spouses serving in the military?
Are any of you military wives?


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  2. dropping in from 'this for that'. i don't see your GFC :/
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  7. As a military wife, spot on post! Thanks!


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