Dear Ms. Vicki,
My children and I moved with my husband, a soldier, last fall to a new country. Here it is, six months later, and I'm only now hearing from anyone with the family readiness group, and that's only because of the negative events that have occurred.
Recently, my soldier found out that the section sergeant threw an official unit bonding event and that they purposely did not invite our family. We're new and have never been invited to anything, so this hurt our feelings. We usually found out about events after the fact and everyone always acted like they thought someone else had invited us. This was the first time we had actual evidence that we were being excluded on purpose.
Now the FRG leader is finally contacting me, just days after they realized that the information about us being intentionally excluded from events was leaked to us. I can't help but worry about the timing. Now I'm scared to get involved with the other spouses and soldiers. They have obviously been judging us without knowing us, and my gut feeling is that I don't want to be friends with people like that.
But I'm also very torn because I don't know anyone here and after six months of utter isolation, I'm biting at the bit to make a friend or two. Part of me wants to say "hi" back to the FRG leader and go see what they have to offer. However, even my husband isn't thrilled with the timing of events and is worried about looking too eager to hang out with people who didn't think we were worth being around. He tells me that his unit is incredibly clique-ish.
Should I get involved or wait for my husband to give the nod? He is the soldier, and I'm worried that I might be stepping on his toes if I jump in without his blessing. Do I just ignore these people and try to enjoy my stay in this country? This all feels so high school to me.
--New and Vulnerable
Thanks for reaching out to me and for sharing your experiences living as a military spouse in a new country.
Most military spouses report that living abroad gives them opportunities to make great friends and form bonds because everyone is far away from home and from family and old friends. I'm sorry your experiences so far haven't been very positive with the FRG in your husband's unit.
I believe you that relationships can be clique-ish, even in adult relationships and situations where everyone should be supportive of each other. You will find that coming into a situation as the "new" person, relationships have already formed between other people. Sad to say, some people can be closed with their friendships. If they want to be closed that's OK; we won't judge them for that. However, the FRG should be inclusive of everyone.
I do have one question: Why do you think they are judging you? What's that about? Listen, this is a major relocation, and it is stressful. I think you will be more apt to bond with another new spouse just like you. Trust me, friends and close relationships will come.
There are other ways to get involved, too, both on and off post. You can volunteer with the Red Cross and with the family services like Army Community Service or Fleet and Family Service. Other options would be volunteering with a faith-based group, like with the religious programs on the installation.
You can also meet people by taking advantage of the opportunities on the post to build yourself up. I would encourage you to continue your education and take college classes, or even use your favorite hobby as a business opportunity. All of these are ways to get out of the house and meet people.
Last thing about the FRG: If you don't want to go to any more events, then don't go. No one can force you.
Throughout your husband's career, you will like some assignments and you won't like others. In some places, you will make a wealth of friends and in others you will make only a few. Life is like that sometimes. Don't take it personally.
Continue to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Check in from time to time and let me know how you are doing. Thanks for writing.
-- Ms. Vicki