The life of a military spouse is a role dictated by tradition, rules and social nuances that make finding and maintaining friendships complicated.
The rank of our spouse doesn’t change that we all share similar experiences – we are all trying to navigate this minefield-riddled structure that makes playing hopscotch in the DMZ look like child’s play – but the experiences are different. One of the great divides among the spouse community is the unwritten rules regarding the socialization between the officer and enlisted communities. The military is crystal clear on fraternization among the ranks, but the waters get muddied when spouse friendships cross the lines of this hierarchy.
I follow the “unwritten” officer/enlisted spouse rules that many find arcane out of respect, and I shouldn’t be torn down or criticized by those that haven’t walked a mile in my shoes.
This is an unpopular opinion at best, but as the spouse of a senior officer, I damn well do wear his rank. I don’t look for anything I did not earn, but the harsh truth is that my spouse wouldn’t be where he is without the support I provide, and he is the first one to tell people that fact. I would never expect or demand a salute, special privileges or the like, but I am still caught in the tug-of-war between the system and naysayers that consider it oppressive and out-dated.
None of this is to say that we won’t get to know the enlisted members and their spouses on some level, but there are lines. Part of my officer’s job is to know his people, who they are, what their struggles or challenges are and how he can help. The same goes for their spouses. As an officer’s wife, if an enlisted spouse, or a junior officer spouse for that matter, needs a kind word, advice, support or a cup of coffee, I will be there, but while we will be familiar, that is not friendship. It can’t be for many reasons, and that is why I stick to my own tribe of officer’s wives.
Officer spouses aren’t looking down from our ivory tower casting judgment and scorn like arrows onto enlisted spouses. The grass is not greener on our side of the fence.