...or rather, HOW can we all get along better?
This is a subject that has been a source of great controversy on some message boards and amongst some of my friends, so I am going to try to tread carefully.
We're in this together, so why does it seem that there is often tension between the spouses of soldiers of different ranks. More importantly, what can we do to encourage understanding and camaraderie?
I couldn't tell you the ranks of any of the spouses of the authors on SpouseBUZZ. It does not matter--other than as a detail in one of their stories. They are all interesting and compelling people in their own rights.
Every time the subject has come up, everyone I know agrees: "I know I can be friends with anyone I wish--I'm not in the military--I don't care what your husband's rank is." And yet, I still hear remarks from spouses of enlisted and officers that the other "side" will not make friends, that "they" do not understand.
There was the First Sergeant's wife invited to a coffee who angrily responded, "I'm not an officer's wife, you do not need to be calling me." Another wife who accused the commander's wife of being "A typical officer's wife." A senior NCO's wife who yelled at the Specialist's wife who had been kind enough to volunteer as a key caller, "Do you know who my husband is? Do you think I need to get information from you?" And the countless examples that I've heard second or third hand.
I'm not really interested in trading barbs, stereotypes, and horror stories, though; I'm more interested in how we can move past this.
So many military spouses long for a connection with others who are going through the same ups and downs of military life. We move around so much that it seems foolish to reject an entire group of potential friends based on their spouses' ranks.
I genuinely believe most spouses wish to be open to any potential friends, so I suspect that part of the issue might lie in larger forces that have become part of the social institutions of the military.
I suppose this topic can be extended out to include other "subgroups" that exist--male and female spouses, for example.
I'm a traditionalist, but maybe there are some traditions that are best left behind. Perhaps we should eliminate social groups that reinforce these divisions? Or do officers' spouses and enlisteds' spouses have separate concerns that really require separate social organizations on the unit or installation levels?
What I really want to hear are your ideas.
So, what roadblocks exist (that we can actually address)? How can we as a group promote better ties between spouses?