Emotionally strong people don’t lie in bed dreading the day. According to Paul Hudson’s awesome piece for the Elite Daily, Emotionally strong people don’t beg for attention, they don’t hold grudges, and they don’t allow others to bring them down.
It’s a great list for the civilian side of my life. But I suspect I might also need a list to remind myself what Emotionally Strong Military Spouses Don’t Do (for those days I am lying in my bed dreading the day and not actually feeling like an emotionally strong military spouse).
Here are the 12 Things Emotionally Strong Military Spouses Don’t Do.What would you add to this list?
1.They don’t get caught up in what’s fair in the marriage. They focus on what works. Emotionally strong people see the big picture. They don’t bother counting up how many times they have cleaned the bathroom/fielded phone calls from school/juggled work and kids and midterms compared to the easy-peasy life of their servicemember (which is never, in fact, easy peasy). Instead, they figure everyone’s life is hard and they just keep moving forward.
2.They don’t think that comparison is connection. When Emotionally Strong Military Spouses engage in social media, they use it to encourage friends and applaud good news and share the journey. If they start getting that creeping anxiety that makes them feel their life just isn’t as special, enriched, meaningful, easy, or lucky as other people, they turn off their screens and go count their blessings.
3.They don’t let other men (or women) take the place of their deployed servicemember. Emotionally healthy people may feel terrible lonely when a servicemember deploys, but they don’t find a member of the opposite sex to come over and watch DVDs, play ball with their kids, hear all of their most intimate thoughts, dreams and irritations. Instead, they use that energy to engage with the deployed servicemember and find like-minded, same-sex friends.
4.They don’t mention their home state as if life were perfect only within 50 miles of mom and dad. Emotionally strong young people might be forgiven for wishing they were back in New Jersey or Florida or Wyoming the first year they are married. It’s hard to be away from home and family for the first time. But after that year, emotionally strong military spouses start making their home wherever the military sends them—even without the free babysitting.
5.They don’t make anyone aware of whether they are married to an officer or enlisted. Or pay for the sins of officer or enlisted wives of the past. Emotionally healthy military spouses know that they never have enough friends so they are on the lookout for people they like who like them back.
6.They don’t spend time wondering if their servicemember was the “right one.” Emotionally healthy military spouses know that there is no such thing as Prince Charming or Sleeping Beauty. They know the old love got away for a reason (read Ms. Vicki). So they don’t friend old boyfriends on Facebook, don’t send overly flirty messages to guys at work and don’t indulge in virtual romances.
7.They don’t threaten divorce every time they have a fight. Emotionally healthy military couples know that they are going to fight. People who share a house and some kids and a bank account are going to fight. But they keep the fighting focused and productive and don’t trip offline with the "D" word.
8.They don’t put up with jerks just because they are servicemembers. Some people in uniform are no good as partners in the business of life. Emotionally healthy people don’t put up with (or indulge in) with the three As—Adultery, Abuse, Addiction. Emotionally healthy people may run into these problems in their marriages (tons of people do) but then they work on a solution: a healthy marriage or a healthy divorce.
9.They don’t look at female servicemembers as rivals. Emotionally healthy people look at female servicemembers in their husband’s unit as…female servicemembers. Everybody needs to work.
10. They don’t forget to praise the behaviors they want to see again. Emotionally healthy people can laugh as much as anyone else that men need praise for putting a glass in the dishwasher while the woman has loaded (and unloaded) that same dishwasher eight times this week. They don’t get deep into a philosophical contemplation of the roles of men and women in society. Instead, they focus on the fact that people repeat the things that receive praise far more than they avoid things that receive criticism.
11. They don’t stop glowing on the servicemember to the kids. Emotionally healthy military spouses know that they are the primary tool their kids use to figure out why the servicemember is gone so much. They don’t indulge in griping in front of their kids. Instead they go with stuff like, “Daddy loves his job.” “Mommy is a wonderful pilot.” “The Army really needs Daddy to help in Afghanistan.” “The ship doesn’t go without Mommy there to light off the engines.” Kids need good news.
12.They don’t give up the power of being the main force of good in their lives. Emotionally healthy military spouses may look at the demands the military puts on their lives and their careers and grind their teeth. But then they get on with it. They don’t fail to show up in their own lives. They don’t fail to act on goals lest they become wishes. They make a plan and work the plan. Whatever it takes.
There are probably a bunch of other things I forgot to add to this list. What behaviors have you learned not to do in your journey as a military spouse?