Friday, April 21, 2006

Back When I was New

Some discussion around my and another blogger’s blog as well as on a MilSpouse board I frequent got me to thinking to back when I was new to both being a wife and being around the military in general. It was definitely a different world than what I was dealing with at the time but hey I figured I could figure it out.

So here’s 5 things I remember back when I was new:

1. The Military Wives Handbook was actually useful – twice. Once for addressing invitations to military personnel and as a doorstop (it’s current occupation).

2. “Texas Casual” or “BBQ Casual” is not what I thought it was. I showed up at a Spouses welcome BBQ of a new Group Commander’s wife in jeans, nice shoes and nice shirt. Everyone else was apparently thought that it meant skirts, heels and silk blouses – boy did I feel stupid, I should have worn my Stetson!

3. I wondered if I would ever learn all of the acronyms that were being thrown at me & ponder why in the hell did the Army create so many of them in the first place! Now I know some that even my spouse didn’t know.

4. I remember a time where speaking up and defending myself a little too loudly caused my spouse and I to be shunned faster than a naughty Mennonite. None of these folks are even in the Army anymore, including the girl who cried “foul” when I told her to stay the hell out of my business and stop talking crap about me unless it was to my face.

5. I remember my first experience with a Spouse’s Club meeting – it has tainted my view ever since. While sitting quietly in a meeting, taking notes and putting faces to memory, one young woman came up to me and said, “I’m so glad you could come, especially since we voted you in.” Voted me in? WTF? I was a fiancé at the time and apparently they voted if I could join their little shin-dig or not. Apparently fiancés could come and go and they didn’t want to invite them if they weren’t going to actually get married.

This did NOT go over well with me. My pledge days were long since over and I found this separatist attitude to be really off-putting. I attended a few more coffees and decided that this group was so NOT for me. (This was the same group that eventually participated in number 4).

Finally, I have come to terms with spouse coffees. After this bad experience, I have had several good ones with a random not so good experience. Because the good experiences out number the bad, I accept each new coffee group on a “trial” basis. I don’t like separating folks based on rank and those that make it such a big deal that my best friend is an “insert rank here” spouse’s wife are just not people I want to spend my time with. If the coffee is a group full of the aforementioned then I find folks outside the coffee to spend my time with.

So you veterans of the MilSpouse world, what five things do you remember when you were new?


Philomina said...


Yeah, that about sums up my concerns about the FRG and spouses groups. Did your husband ever get spoken to by the powers that be about you not going to the coffee groups or any other issues related to stories like number 4 and 5?

I appreciate your stories about what its like at first to be a part of this experience. Any stories about how you got through his training? Thanks, take care!


monique said...

My husband used to beg and plead with me to go to the stupid Christmas parties and other events, just to be the pretty LT's wife. I refused one time and he actually drove all the way back home to get me on "The BC's wishes" Back then, I thought a battalion commander was a big deal. Now I reserve respect and fear for those who've earned it by actions, not by rank. He's a reservist, currently in Iraq, so I do get involved willingly now :)

Household6 said...

No he never got talked to about me telling the girl off, his peers just shunned us until we went to another unit.

The next unit commanders wife was a laugh riot. She made it the best experience for me. What was sad was that my first experience had to be the horrid one. Luckily I have had more good experiences than bad so I go to the coffees and figure the folks out. If they aren't my cup of tea, I just back out of many events quietly. I think my number 4 & 5 just had to do with a group of bad apples - all of which let me remind you are NO LONGER in the Army at all.

Nicole said...

Well I never really participated in the FRG at our first duty station but might take it on a case-by-case basis. As for the coffees, I feel the same way you do...I think each group is different but I definitely see the potential for some serious annoyance every once in a while. :)

Christie said...

There's a Military wives handbook?
I sooo need to get that

Army Wife said...

Sometimes, we military spouses~well we eat our young. I will add here, I can recall every time and moment a wife was welcoming!!

You are right, the military spouse handbook was helpful.

Shannon said...

I have always tried to participate in the FRG. When we married, it was prior to Tricare lol and they still called it the Family Support Group...

As a young person, I felt extremely welcomed by the commander's wife who headed up our FSG. I still think of her so many years later and what a huge impact it had on the way I viewed being a part of it all so early in our marriage. Having just moved far from home, my first real experience at being part of the Army life, being a new was all so exciting and positive. At our next duty station I learned that not all FSGs (and soon after FRGs) and not all spouses were so wonderful. Not a huge deal, just a learning experience. One that made me realize that some spouses cared about rank and who you were married to more than who YOU are as a person...that has always turned me off. If someone asks my husband's rank, I immediately know, we probably have NOTHING in common.

Coffee Groups are a whole 'nother horse of a different color in my opinion. I have never gone to one of these. I will never go to one of these. I always politely ask to be removed from that social roster and let them know that I am not interested in participating. If that's all that is needed to satisfy the powers that be, that is all I offer. If pushed as to WHY I won't participate, I am honest. If it is based on rank and for the SPOUSES (not the soldiers who EARNED the rank), I refuse to participate. I'm NO better than the private's wife who is new to the Army, new to the unit, new to the state and post. SHE doesn't have a "special" place to meet other spouses in the unit outside the FRG. Why do senior NCOs and officers spouses? Not much difference in the brand new LT's wife and the brand new private's wife. Both want to make a connection, both want to meet friends - yet both do not have the same opportunity to do so. It goes against my personal convictions and I refuse to be a part of it.

I don't hold anything against those who do participate of each their own. However, if I wanted a "rank" I would have joined the Army myself. Participating in things based on rank when it has nothing to do with the soldier (FOR ME) would be hypocrisy - so I stay far far away ;).

Sorry to ramble on and on during one of my first comments. I ran across your blog and truly have enjoyed reading your entries....look forward to reading more!