I definitely got carried away yesterday, writing nearly 1,500 words. To summarize those ideas, I don’t identify as a military wife partly because I have found it very unpleasant to socialize with 9/10 other military wives I’ve met, and also because I still identify more as a military service member than a military family member.
Another big reason I don’t call myself a Navy wife is because I think men and women are equal. I think my accomplishments and daily duties are just as important and interesting as my husband’s. I’ve met many people since leaving active duty who find out that I’m both a veteran and a spouse of a military member, and do you know what they ask? They don’t ask what I did in the Navy, or for how long, or why I left. They don’t ask what I do now, or if they do, they stop paying attention when I say, “I study,” and couldn’t care less about what I study—and I study physics, so since when is that boring to talk about?
What people ask is what my husband does. Where is he stationed? Is he on deployment? What’s his rank? Is he going to retire? Thank him for his service. Is it because I’m a woman that my service doesn’t matter? I think.
I love my husband, and of course I am proud of him. He’s not an American hero. I know his job way, way better than most women know their husband’s jobs. I’m proud of him mostly because I know he could get away with doing way less work with way lower quality—but because he’s just that kind of person that doesn’t half-ass, gun-deck, or jury-rig (unless ordered to, which does happen sometimes). I’m also proud of him because he gets shit done. He doesn’t like the military, but he has yet to do something to purposely get kicked out. He doesn’t just sit around waiting for his contract to be up. He doesn’t refuse to get qualifications occupy leadership roles because, “I’m getting out anyway,”—which civilians may not know is actually a pretty common thing to happen among enlisted people who realize they don’t want to do twenty years. In short, I love my husband, and I’m proud of his work because in it he shows his integrity as a man. Also, I’m proud of it because it’s how he shows his patience as well; it takes a patient person to deal with some of the inept superiors he has had.
But my husband’s hard work, integrity, promotions—I should mention that he’s probably going to have to try not to get promoted next time up, if he truly doesn’t want to become a First Class—are not my own. My military service record speaks for itself. My grades speak for me. The way I handle myself speaks for me. Being married to a great person doesn’t make me a great person. When I call my husband “my better half,” I really mean it.
So when I say I’m not a Navy wife, it’s partly because I have my own accomplishments to be proud of—but it’s also because it’s not my business to take credit for my husband’s accomplishments. We are married, and we are one in important ways, but not in every way.
I think that’s all I need to write on this topic for a while. I do have strong feelings about it, and there are many misconceptions that civilians have of military people (some of which are definitely perpetuated by military people, such as the lie that we are not paid well). I wish people did not ask questions like they do… or I wish they would put more thought into those questions. I hope in my lifetime I will see women get paid the same as men for the same work, whether in the military or outside of it, and also receive the same respect. I also wish people would get over the military worship in this country, because we’re not all heroes, we’re not all saints, and most of us joined for economic reasons, not “to fight for your freedom.”
(The economic inequality that leads to more poor people going to war and dying versus rich ones is another topic entirely.)
Anyway, I feel a little better writing down some of my thoughts.