Military spouses don’t wear rank…or do they? Technically they don’t. Military spouses know this, but mixed signals are given on the subject of military hierarchy. My husband became a chief in August 2013 and I attended the spouse welcome and education night. They gave us 2 books: Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers and Social Customs and Traditions of the Sea Services. I quite possibly could have been the only person that read both of those books that night. Some things were very helpful and others were very outdated. The subject of spousal rank structure came up once.
Additionally, even though there is no rank among spouses, your presence as “the Chief’s spouse” is significant. You are a natural role model for others coping with the challenges of military life.
Regardless of your intent, you will be a role model to junior sailors’ spouses and the example you set will have an impact on the other spouses at the command.
I agree with those statements. I don’t wear my husband’s rank, nor do I want to. Being myself and a positive role model for other husbands and wives is more important to me. I have a good friend that is an officer’s wife and one that is the spouse of a sailor still going through EOD school.
Some of my friends’ husbands are higher rank than my husband but we’re all friends. Why should rank matter?
Some spouses take the military hierarchy very seriously. They feel a sense of entitlement, that they have worked hard over the years and deserve their due. Really? After years of being part of the military community and watching your spouse rise in rank, you’ve experienced a lot. I understand that. Why do you assume an air of superiority?
The first thought that comes to mind when thinking of my family is pride. My father retired as command sergeant major. I am proud of his accomplishments. I continue to have the same sense of pride for my husband and his advancement. I don’t feel entitled to anything. I do feel special, I will admit. I’ve always thought I was part of something special by being a member of the military community.
When I attended the new chief spouse education night I thought it was quite interesting and somewhat surprising, that the master chief leading the night said not only were we special but that we deserved our due. He specifically said that we do not wear our spouses’ rank, but that we were not to fraternize with lower ranked spouses just as the new chiefs were not to fraternize with lower enlisted. I spoke up. There was no way I was going to let that comment pass. When I said I had friends with spouses of all ranks he said I needed to reevaluate my relationships. Seriously. “Though you do not wear your husband’s rank,” he reiterated, “it is up to you to decide if having those friendships puts your husband at risk of fraternization.” It is recommended that you do not maintain relationships with spouses of lower enlisted. I went home and told my friend we couldn’t be friends anymore. We both laughed.
While rules of etiquette are important to follow, always keep in mind that no rules will replace a warm heart, a friendly smile, and the sincere desire to share in the fellowship and camaraderie of the sea services.
This quote from Guidelines for the Spouses of Chief Petty Officers makes me smile. While what the master chief said was contradictory, this statement should bring it all back in focus. Sure some military spouses have more “mileage” than others. You’ve struggled with multiple moves, repeated deployments and last-minute changes. You’ve experienced a lot and learned a great deal. Why not share that knowledge with the younger generation and help them in their journey rather than put them down? A friendly smile and a helping hand can go a long way.