You have probably heard the phrase, “Army (or Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps) Wife is the Toughest Job in the Army (or Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps) .” You might have seen it on a bumper sticker, T-shirt, keychain, coffee mug, magnet or an online forum. It’s out there and it is something that can cause a lot of frustration for a lot of people.
The reason people say this is because it is hard to be a military spouse.
Being a military spouse isn’t an easy life. You have to give up a lot from where you live to pursuing your own career. You are home with the kids as a solo parent and the military isn’t always the best of letting you know what is going on or what is ahead for your family in the future.
The issue with the saying “Military spouse is the toughest job in the military,” isn’t that military life is hard. We all know it’s hard. The problem with this statement is it acts as though the spouse IS actually in the military which is not true. Spouses are civilians unless they serve in active duty or the National Guard or are reservists or veterans.
If you talk to a spouse who served in the active duty military, she might tell you how frustrating it can be to hear that other spouses act like they too are in the military. They would tell you how different the 2 roles are. They would try to explain that serving in the military is different then serving on the homefront.
While the service member trains for war and is eventually deployed, the spouse stays at home. Whether the spouse works outside the home or not, they are the ones in charge and taking care of the children. They are the ones left behind to keep things going. They say goodbye to their spouse and make do playing the dual roles of mom and dad for months at a time, sometimes years at a time. They take care of what needs to be done while the other spouse is away. All of this is hard and appreciated. It can be frustrating when you have to wait on the military for almost everything. You wait on finding out where and when you will move, when your spouse will be home and what is going to happen next. Forget about planning your future, even if you were able to, the military could change things at the last minute.
None of this is the same as being in the military, to train hard, carry your weapon and put yourself in harm’s way. Nothing a military spouse is doing at home is literally putting yourself in the line of fire.
While we need to remember and recognize the sacrifices that military families and spouses make, we need to stop acting like it is the same as actually being in the military. Because it isn’t and it isn’t fair to act as though it is. We need to stop saying it is harder than what those who have enlisted have had to do. We need to understand that as stressful as it gets waiting at home, at least we wait in a safe place with a warm bed, a full fridge and friends to help us through the deployment.