Comparing Yourself to Other Military Spouses
Comparing yourself to other people is bound to happen at one point in your life. Do not feel bad about it. Please know that it can be a very unhealthy thing to do. I am not talking about about scrolling through Pintrest and finding inspiration for self improvement. I am talking about “look what that family has and what we do not have…”.
*This is crucial when your spouse is on deployment. Let’s break it down.
Comms: If you stay connected with family members in your spouses’ unit while deployed (which I highly recommend you do) do not compare the amount of times you talk to your spouse to others. If you are on a Facebook group, you are going to see a whole lot of posts saying things like, “talked to my Marine today! I am so happy and so in love. He will be calling tomorrow”. Do not think twice about this. Learn to be genuinely happy for the couple. In my experience, I got terrified when I was seeing all the posts go up, and I didn’t talk to my husband for seven weeks. He was on an MEU at the time and it turns out he was on ship tacks. The hours of work were he was getting used to ship life/schedule, worked long and rigerous, our hours conflicted, and he was saving money for that expensive calling card to call me once things settled down.
Keep in mind location. Eventually the ship landed somewhere in the middle East and some people in the unit went to Syria, while others stood patrol in another country. This gave them more time to talk. The spouses that once posted and talked about how much they talked to their servicememeber, were now worried. I felt worried for them and very sympathetic. I also had a spouse to talk to that assured me those guys were okay, they just didn’t have comms up.
MOS AND Rank: A servicemember with an MOS in admin who has access to the internet might have a chance at communicating more with family vs. a servicemember in the infantry (my husband) who would spend the majority of the time out in the field. A Captain might be able to communicate with their family more often than a jr. enlisted- Lance Corporal for Example.
Do not compare ranks: This is probably the most controversial. When I meet someone, I do not ask them what their spouses’ rank is. This could damage a potential friendship as it has at times when people have asked me. Particularly when they are deployed, we need all the support we can get. Cutting off ties because you find out that your talking to a wife of a Lance Corporal is entirely your ego talking. It is an outdated rule. When my husband was a Lance Corporal, I made great relationships with women who’s husbands were Gunny’s, Master Sgt, and Captain etc.
*Important fact: Did you know many people EAS as Lance Corporal due to the high cutting scores particularly in the Infantry? Hence Terminal Lance. This is why we need to stop comparing.
Housing; An example of Camp Pendleton: “They live in Del Mar while we live in Stuart Mesa, my husband better get promoted.” I have heard this one quite a few times and it is toxic sentiment. It is not a good idea to put pressure on your spouses’ career just to move to another housing district. Either way you have a great view of the Ocean. Del Mar housing represents some sense of prestige, which attracts Warrant Officers and Officers to move there. Let go of the ego and be happy with the life you have. You have free rent, and a great community of military spouses if you make it that way. Another common thought about housing and location is on base vs off base. They say you are not experiencing military life if you are living off base. This is not true.
Do not let your ego consume you. Be happy with what you have and do not jeopardize friendships due to comparison . Although controversial, I believe the rule of not associating outside your spouses rank is outdated. I would stay clear of asking this question if it has been a problem for you in the past.
As for communication during deployment, it took me into the seventh month of deployment to learn how to be genuinely happy for family to hear from their servicemember. I had to constantly remind myself that schedules differ, duties rapidly change, and not everyone will have the time to talk depending on your MOS and rank. Sometimes they are just too tired to talk, and that is okay. Just be present and in the moment and everything will fall into place.
You are your own unique family and be proud of that.