My husband works in the Chinook community. The crews (enlisted personnel) and pilots (warrant officers and officer-officers...don't know what the technical term is to differentiate between the two) work intimately together to keep that helicopter in the air and get it back on the ground safely. Therefore the lines between officer and enlisted are blurred.
You can't go from that kind of a working relationship to a "no fraternization" relationship off the clock. It just doesn't work. So it is not uncommon to find E4s and 03s who are friends outside of work.
And I cherish that. I love it.
The first summer after we had moved to Alaska, we were invited to a BBQ with friends. It was actually the FRG leader who was a friend of mine that invited me. I thought nothing of it. I do not pay attention to rank. I don't know how to read it on a uniform, nor do I care to. To me, people are people. I don't have a chain of command therefore I don't give a rip what rank you (or your spouse) wear. I will afford you the respect you deserve.
Anyway, we were invited to this BBQ. So we went. These were people from MacGyver's work. People he admired and worked with on a daily basis. MacGyver is the easy-going type that gets along with just about everyone and is pretty much at ease in any situation. He has no pretenses.
The BBQ was great. Good friends, good beer, good food, beautiful weather. What more could you ask for? As I was driving home (MacGyver had had a few too many beers) he looks over at me and tells me "thank you" with that silly permagrin he gets on his face when he's had too much to drink. I asked him why he was thanking me. He proceeds to tell me that the people from work at the BBQ were two of the senior-most warrants in the unit (W4s), a Captain (the XO I believe...this was back when Majors were still unit commanders), an E8 (the 1SGT), and an E6 (MacGyver's platoon sergeant). MacGyver was a FRESH E4 at that point. He had *just* been bumped to flight crew maybe 2 weeks before. To be invited to hang out with people he admired in a social setting was very flattering to him and it showed him that rank has its place but it's a small place, at least in the Chinook community.
I understand the need for the cina of command and the "no fraternization" regulations. I get that. I am also incredibly thankful that my husband wound up in an MOS where rank isn't a big deal most of the time.
When I meet a military spouse (or the military member, for that matter) my natural assumption, unless I know otherwise, is that the servicemember is the same rank as my husband. No higher. No lower. I've always had that mindset. I think it is simply because rank doesn't matter to me. Everyone puts their pants on pretty much the same way. Every servicemember - enlisted and officer alike - deserves respect based on the strength of their character, not the rank on their shoulder (or chest, depending on what uniform they are wearing). To believe otherwise can cause you to miss out on getting to know some incredible people .