Military spouses. The phrase can conjure up so many false assumptions based on a very narrow window of who and what a military spouse is.
I am a military spouse. When I was first married I overheard the remarks about spouses and what “those”kind of spouses" could be like - all with a ‘wink, wink and a nudge’.
What I never understood is why these derogatory comments were always made BY fellow military spouses!
I guess we can all poke a little fun at our own expense from time to time, but when a new spouse (or anyone for that matter) overhears it, it can shape their whole perspective of what this life is really like.
Ever felt lonely during a deployment? Feel alone despite living in housing or a in a military town? Wonder who your neighbor is? It’s common to not know who your neighbor is. While this may be normal in civilian neighborhoods, it’s a shame that our military housing in some areas has also headed in this direction.
Why dont we reach out to the new neighbor? It may seem old fashioned, but is it really so hard to say hello?
My theory is that we are scared.What if they think we are weird? Or they don’t like us? What if we are rejected and it gets awkward? What if they don’t have kids the same age? What if I don’t like their dog? Or…what if they feel the same way we do?
Well, What if they are new to the area and don’t know anyone? Maybe they just need to see a smile to realize they aren’t alone. A smile, a wave, or a conversation at the playground can do wonders for a spouse who hasn’t had an adult conversation all day!
We might just be more alike than we are different. Instead of perpetuating the stereotypes, why not actively change them, one person and one interaction at a time?
Many of us have had the good fortune of becoming lifelong friends with some wonderful people who happen to be fellow military spouses, many of whom fit no stereotypes. How about we drop the fear of rejection and take a step out of our comfort zones? I promise, it rarely returns void.
Instead of hiding in our houses, why not trade meals with a spouse whose service member is deployed, or invite them over for coffee? Let them know that even though ours may be home right now, we do remember how rough it can be. Even when it’s not convenient, and especially when it’s easier not to, we need to reach out. There are too many of us that feel alone. That shouldn't be. We are in this together!
We are not all moms. We don’t all stay home. We aren’t all shop-till-you-drop types. We are not snobs past a certain rank. We don’t wear our spouse’s rank. And on and on it goes with the negative stereotypes. You’ve heard them I’m sure, so I don’t have to list them all.
When we assume that ‘military spouse’means one particular thing, we all lose. We opt out of the potential of meeting people that can change our lives for the better. Perhaps it’s time to ditch the negative ideas about who we are, and stop robbing each other of the opportunities to create real community.
Lori Stoffers is a Navy Spouse, mother and fitness enthusiast. Currently finishing up their time in Washington State, the Stoffers are headed to Texas for their next tour.