Without fail, at social gatherings or online, it will happen. Someone will ask a question and my face will kind of freeze into an awkward mask. It’s somewhere between a cringe, a fake smile and an eye roll.
I don’t mean to do that. It’s just, well, some questions are awkward and strange.
Please Don’t Ask Me That: The Strangest Questions I’ve Been Asked As a Military Spouse
(Full disclosure: I haven’t personally been asked all of these questions, but I’ve had friends who have been or have heard the rumors about certain questions in my decade as a military spouse.)
Can you make sure your next move will take you to (location near family)?
If we actually got to pick where we moved, I would be picking Hawaii or San Diego. Maybe somewhere in Europe or a tropical island, like Jamaica.
Unfortunately, we just get told where to go. Even when submitting a “wishlist” of next duty stations is possible, the chances of getting your top choice is laughable.
Will you be going to visit your spouse in (location near the front lines)?
I’ve heard that Afghanistan has some lovely hiking in the Hindu Kush. I, unfortunately, do not plan on visiting my combat deployed spouse while he is there. He’s mentioned something about rocket strikes and horrendous dust storms during the 5 static-filled minutes we talked via satellite phone 2 months ago.
(Spouse) is coming home soon! Will you be moving home?
I’m not sure you understand how this life works. It’s a job and we live where the job is. There is not a job in (hometown) for my spouse. So we’ll be staying at our current location until the military sends us somewhere else.
I’ve watched “Army Wives.” When are you going to become friends with the general’s wife?
Any question that tries to relate my military spouse life to the fun, but fictional, romp that is “Army Wives” will get extra eye rolls from me.
No, unless my spouse rises in the ranks to that level, Claudia Joy will never be my BFF. Instead, I’ll be socializing mainly with families in a similar status or rank to my own spouse. If I am invited to a social event with the higher-ups, it will be a more formal occasion. Pleasantries will be exchanged, but I probably won’t become besties with a general’s wife.
Why can’t I post the specific homecoming date and location or share exactly when and where my spouse will be deployed?
Let me explain it to you in 5 little letters: OPSEC. Operational Security. A handy way to remind yourself of this is “loose lips sink ships.” There are individuals online constantly looking for information about forward-deployed troops.
Posting information online or oversharing in any situation can cause these individuals to target units or locations for attacks. Sharing specific homecoming information can also invite these trolls to interrupt the safe return of troops.
Your best bet? If it doesn’t come from the public affairs officer or shop, don’t post it or share it.
I want to visit my spouse at their unaccompanied OCONUS duty station. Won’t the military pay for me to go there?
No. They won’t. Your spouse or significant other is unaccompanied and has a job to do overseas. They might get some time to head home mid-tour, but otherwise will be mainly at their OCONUS location.
If you want to visit, you’ll need to do it on your own dime. Or learn how to work the Space-A system.
My spouse is late coming home from work. Who should I call?
No one. Call no one. Calling the duty desk or his shop or his senior NCO or reporting officer is not a good idea. Instead, of just being late tonight, your spouse will be late every night for the foreseeable future. And they’ll enjoy endless teasing from everyone else in their shop forever.
Instead, proceed as usual at home and maybe set aside some dinner for reheating later.
You had a baby in Japan! Does he have dual citizenship?
OK, first: that would be super cool! Second: my baby is fully an American without any extra citizenships. The overseas bases have special privileges, which include making any children born there immediate American citizens.
Unfortunately, having a baby OCONUS does mean that registering the birth is a super long and pricier process than in the States.
He’s home (or leaving soon). Planning to get knocked up?
I mean, maybe? Anyone who has tried to conceive kind of knows that it is a crapshoot, at best. Honestly, my desire to have a baby and when and how is really none of your business.
Your life seems so exciting! Can you give me your best tips so I can marry into the military too?
After I give you some fierce side-eye, I’ll calmly explain that this life was never my first plan. I fell in love with a guy who happened to be in the military. The end. I didn’t chase him down because of his dress blues or go out hunting for a dude with dog tags.
While there are awesome parts to military life, a lot of this is really hard. It’s not all fancy birthday balls and happy homecomings. This life is messy and hard and emotional and stressful.
But good luck with that!