People are fascinated with the military lifestyle. And who could blame them? Thanks to Hollywood, it appears very glamorous and dramatic: spouses fighting, tearful reunions and more scandal than a TV show on ABC. But so much of what you see on TV or in movies is dramatized and exaggerated to the point that it’s not even close to accurate. Unfortunately, the public’s idea of the military spouse lifestyle comes from these dramatizations and military spouse myths become so deeply ingrained, they seem like fact.
As a military spouse, I firmly believe that it’s in our best interest to tell people the truth behind military spouse myths. Only when people know the truth can they begin to support and help military spouses in the way they need it the most.
Military Spouse Myths
Myth: We were all young when we got married.
Real story: Yes, some of us do get married at comparatively young ages (i.e. right after high school), but that is not the case for all of us. For example, I was 25 when I married my husband, certainly not a kid anymore. Some of us don’t become military spouses until much later in life, think 40s or 50s.
Myth: We’re all female.
Real story: No. Just no. There may have been a time when this was true, but it’s not anymore. There are some kick butt military husbands now and they deserve far more credit. Now more than ever there is greater diversity in the military spouse community and we need to celebrate it!
Myth: We don’t work.
Real story: I will admit that there may be a nugget of truth to this one, but not in the way you likely think. First of all, the work done at home counts as work, especially when you’re doing it all solo. We do not sit around and eat chocolate all day. But military spouses do face some major challenges when it comes to working.
According to the 2016 Blue Star Families Survey, 48% of military spouses are employed. But because of frequent moves, solo parenting and our spouses’ work schedules, we are often underemployed or go through long periods of unemployment. Think about it: how easy would it be for you to find a good job with benefits that fits your skill level, education, experience and pay requirements when everyone knows you will likely have to quit within 2-3 years? Not too easy.
Myth: We knew what we were getting into.
Real story: Find me a military spouse who tells you that things worked out exactly as he/she originally planned and I will show you a unicorn made of cotton candy. The only thing you can be sure of with the military is that things are going to be unpredictable.
I don’t think any of us (military or civilian) go into anything, let alone a marriage, knowing 100% what will happen every step of the way. Why would a military marriage be any different? Did I have a general idea of what life would be like before I said “I do”? Yes. But did I know that my husband would be gone for more than half of our first two years of marriage and how hard that would be? No, I did not.
Myth: We always agree with our spouse’s boss.
Real story: Do you know who my husband’s boss is technically? The President of the United States. Do you know who I don’t always agree with? The President of the United States. The military community in general gets painted with a very conservative brush, as in that’s the way we all vote. That is decidedly untrue.
And it’s not just our current President. Anytime someone makes a decision that puts my husband’s life at risk, you can bet your bippy that I’m going to have issue with it.
Myth: We get to spend a ton of time with our spouse he/she is home from deployment.
Real story: Ha! My husband came home from his last deployment on a Saturday. I was back in the office on the following Monday and so was he. Work does not stop when deployment is over. We both put in 40+ hour weeks even before you take into account trainings or travel.
Myth: We are constantly pregnant and have at least four kids.
Real story: Oh for heavens sake. No. So many of us don’t want children or want children, but can’t have children. Of all the military spouse myths, this is the one that bugs me the most. Personally, raising a child in my husband’s current job climate scares the beejesus out of me. And remember that whole “gone more than half the time we’ve been married” thing from earlier? Not all of us are constantly pregnant or even want to be pregnant.
We can thank the entertainment industry for a lot of the most common military spouse myths. But each military spouse can do his/her part in making sure folks learn the real story. What’s the craziest military spouse myth you’ve come across and how did you set the record straight?