When your service member complains that you do not “support” him or her, what exactly do they want? Money? Words of good cheer? Attendance at events? Boots with better insoles?
We want to know.Hanna, a military wife of nine months, says her they have been getting into fights in which her husband complains that she doesn’t support him. She says that the transition from her job back home to going to school full time at a new duty station has been hard on her.
It doesn’t help that her husband left for training three months after she arrived. Hanna wrote:
“I have been taking it out on my husband more then I should. We have been getting into a lot of fights lately. I tell him that I will get a job, but he is not talking about financial support. How are some ways I can support him?”I could write a whole blog about how Hanna’s husband could support her, but that guy did not write us. Hanna did. Here are some ideas I thought of for Hanna. What would you add?
1. Give the bride a little credit.I think Hanna needs to start by giving herself a little credit for making the move to live with her husband. That is a big step. Everything changes at once. We forget that a lot of the invisible support new military spouses had back home disappears once you move away.
It takes some time before a new duty station becomes familiar and new supports kick in. I think she should give herself six months to get used to the new place. What do you say?
2. Ask the service member what he or she means by ‘support.’Hanna’s husband isn’t asking for financial support. So she needs to ask him what he wants. He needs to ‘fess up to exactly what he is looking for. Spell it out.
This sounds like an obvious step, but we are often really bad at putting what we really want into words. In a military marriage in which a lot of big relationship work must be done in a very short period of time, both partners gotta own what they want and then deal with the compromise from there.
3. Don’t dog the military.This is the hardest thing I tell newlyweds to do: set a little rule for yourself that you don’t blame the military. (Full disclosure: this has been a lifelong struggle for me!)
We all want to blame the military for our troubles. The military does a lot of pointless, useless, rule-bound stuff that drives spouses crazy. And they don’t keep to a schedule!
Even though our complaints are probably spot on, they have a strange effect on our service members. Complaining about the military puts the service member in the position of defending the organization. Even if he or she doesn’t agree with what the CO is doing, he or she has to defend it--which can make for a bitter argument.
4. Think your way around the military.Swallowing complaints about military life or pasting on a happy face will make you certifiable. That will sap your energy for sure. Instead, Hanna might start thinking of the military as a giant boulder in her path. It’s immovable. So think around it. How can a newlywed get what they want while working around the military? Be crafty.
5. Get a job.Hanna is in school full time—which is a good thing. But school doesn’t provide quite the same structure as a job.
As hard as it is to get a job in a military community, a job gives a person more than money. It gives you a schedule. It gives you somewhere to be and people who expect you to be there. That's where people find a lot of that invisible support that they lost. Then the service member isn’t responsible for all of your happiness.
That’s what I’ve got. Now it is up to you. What else should Hanna and her husband be looking at when it comes to getting and giving support?
U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Eric T. Sheler