I swear I was just walkin’ here when that rude guy bumped into me. “Sorry!” I said automatically.
Gah. Some days it feels like I’m sorry for this and sorry for that and sorry for everything under the sun. I am excellent at the automatic apology.
Yet as this recent study shows, people who refuse to apologize actually feel better than you and me. By refusing to apologize they feel empowered. They feel righteous. They feel like they exercised their integrity.
I feel like I need a box of donuts.
Although I might apologize to make some situations easier, as a military spouse, I know there are some things you never apologize for. Here is my list:
1. Never apologize for your service member’s absence.The teacher might want your sailor to show up for the conference and your sister might be mad that your soldier is not at her wedding and your neighbor might think that your Marine is a little slow on the lawn care. Oh well. If your service member is absent on training or deployment or geographic bachelorhood, those folks should be grateful your partner is one of the few in this country who can qualify for military service, much less do such an awesome job at it. And if his or her absence is inconvenient for them, they can just get over it.
2. Never apologize for being the new kid.The military moves families on average every 2.5 years. That means you are pretty much always the new kid. You don’t know where to find a good plumber. You don’t know when the sign-ups are for band camp. You could not identify the worst teacher in the district if they were in the lineup at the local police station. So what if you have to ask for info all the time? Think of yourself as curious and resourceful.
3. Never apologize for how you feel.Sometimes it feels like the world expects you to watch your airman or Coastie or soldier depart with no more emotion than watching the bus driver pull away from the curb. Wrong answer. You feel what you feel. And then you get to work on handling those feelings. If you behave kinda badly because of the way your were feeling, then OK. You probably need to apologize for that behavior. But never apologize for the feeling.
4. Never apologize for not knowing everyone’s rank.The people who are in the military read those bars and stripes and stars and preternaturally know exactly where everyone fits into the hierarchy. If you aren’t actually in the military, save a brain cell and give that a skip. Me, I just call everyone who looks like they are in charge Ma’am or Sir. Works for me.
5. Never apologize for stolen kisses.Who would agree to a relationship with someone who offers to move you a million miles from your family, friends and job and then disappears for a year at a time with nothing but a ‘love you?’ You would. Cuz you are smart that way. When you find a person you love that much, feel free to steal as many kisses as you want. In fact, I'll go further: go ahead and set up boundaries when they are home so that you can have a little alone time. Relationships thrive on attention.
6. Never apologize for “swimming.”Sometimes in military life you would like to change everything. You would like to move away from where you live. You would like to get past this stage of pregnancy or parenting. You would like your Marine or sailor to STOP BEING SUCH A JERK. But that isn’t one of your choices. Instead there isn’t anything to do but channel Dory in Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” It ain’t the best way, but sometimes it is the way that works.
7. Never apologize for doing things your way.So often on SpouseBuzz we see spouses mad because they feel pressured to have kids or pressured to have a powerful job or pressured to move or pressured not to move. Really, the only solution to military life is to do things in the way it works out for you and your service member. Don’t ever apologize for that. Own it. Love it. Do it.
8. Never apologize for the struggle.Sometimes things are going to suck for you in military life. You are going to sleep with the lights on. You going to cry in the bathroom because you don't want anyone to hear. You are going to fight about money. You are going to look at your credit card bills and quake. Military life is a struggle. It's hard. If it were easy,then everyone who thinks a uniform looks snappy would be doing it. Don't apologize for struggling. Struggle valiantly (and hunt down that phone number for the free counseling on Military OneSource. Oh, here it is: 1-800-342-9647.
9. Never apologize for being an American.Do you tear up when someone sings the National Anthem? Or “God Bless America?” Or “Proud to be an American?” Do those homecoming clips on YouTube make you sob a little? Does the sight of your loved one in uniform make you catch your breath? Never apologize for that.
Go ahead and apologize when strangers bump into you. Apologize to smooth people’s feelings. Apologize when you are wrong. But don’t apologize for that moment. Because it was earned the hard way-- and it is more valuable and more rare that you will ever know.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley