I gotta admit, I am judgey about geographic bachelors. Where I really don’t care if you breastfeed your baby and I don’t even notice what kind of car you drive, I’m pretty much against geographic bachelor tours.
And I do not hold back from telling you about it. Like so many in our military community, if you tell me you are thinking about going geobach (where the service member moves to the next duty station while the family stays put) BE WARNED: I am going to try to talk you out of it.
The blanket assumption is wrong.One of my colleagues thinks this is completely wrong. Not only is she against judginess of all kinds, she thinks that the blanket assumption that a spouse will move to be with their service member is a real problem—especially when it comes to spouse employment.
So she was surprised to be judged (not by me!) when she and her Marine lived apart so she could finish her degree. Even after the fact, when she and her Marine were back together and looking back at the geobach tour as a good thing that worked out for them, she found people were still judgey.
She was offended. I was intrigued.Any time people in your social group get judgey on you, it is usually for a reason. For all its obnoxiousness, that social judgment you feel is supposed to be doing some kind of work. I think it is good to take a step back and wonder why are we so judgey against geographic bachelors?
Geobaching is a solution to some of the ills of military life.Geobaching can solve the problem of spouse employment. Both partners keep their jobs and keep advancing. Geobaching solves the problem of an impossible real estate market. You keep your house for a few more years and you can probably sell for a profit. Geobaching solves the problem of moving teenagers. Just don’t do it.
Since frequent moves, like deployments, are a hallmark of military life, shouldn’t we all be embracing geographic bachelorhood as an awesome adaptation? Why do we greet it with raised eyebrows and snippy comments instead?
Good question. I know that I’m likely to rush in where angels fear to tread because my husband and I have done the geobach thing twice—once for Hurricane Katrina and once because we had a junior/senior in high school. We know for sure and certain that a geographic bachelor tour is not just another deployment. It isn't forced upon you. It is a choice to be married and live apart. That says something.
So, of course, when we were making these choices, we did feel judged. When my husband was eating his sad dinner in his car in the Wendy’s parking lot (poor guy he totally took one for the family on that tour) we got judged by the whole crew of his ship. What kind of wife doesn’t move with such a great guy?
That kind of hurt.Oh well. Sometimes you just gotta react to social judgment with a deep, heartfelt, oh well. Which is what we had to do. We recognized that the pain of perceived judgments of other people (parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, colleagues, strangers) about our decision made us examine our decision more closely. We knew we were between a rock and a hard place with that move. Either moving together or doing the geobach tour apart was going to suck in one way or another. I still have pages and pages of notebook paper where we weighed out our decision.
The judgments of other people didn’t make the decision for us. The judgment of other people flagged the decision as something we needed to approach with great care.
So if you tell me today that you are going to geobach, expect that I am going to raise my eyebrows. I am going to ask about why you would do that. I am going to tell you it is harder than it looks. I'm gonna be a little judgey.
Then I promise I’m going to shut up. Ultimately, you and your service member are the only one who know every factor that weights on your family life. And I trust you to make the best decision for you.
Photo by David McNally, USAG