Is Your Spouse Pulling Rank at Home?

One particularly stressful day was the catalyst for my outburst against a behavior, which normally, would only merit an eye roll. While my husband was out of state for training, I was left alone to deal with a serious case of identity theft, and with our rambunctious 3-year-old, who had mastered backtalk overnight. Every moment not parenting said rebellious preschooler was spent making panicked calls and emails to save my good name. Damage control took over well into the evening, and by bedtime, I had snapped.

Stressful as these events were, they did not break me. It was my spouse’s incessant texts and calls throughout the day regarding our credit scare, most starting with, “You need to…,” or something to that effect. Shortly before midnight, he called to insist that I make a police report, and I let him have it: “Stop giving me orders!” Shocked by my insubordination (ahem, exclamation), he stammered a quick apology for his delivery, never meaning to condescend.

Condescension, however, was exactly how it felt, as if he held rank over me and I would be lost without his direction. As much as this bossiness bothers me, I get it. He gives orders for a living and sometimes he unintentionally takes his work home with him. But is getting your active duty spouse to speak to you as an equal as simple as teaching him or her to shrug off the work day?

Very little is written on the subject. Scouring psychology journals and military blogs for the answer turned up articles about workaholics and lists of shared personality traits amongst military personnel. However, Dr. Bret A. Moore’s Psychology Today post titled, “Is There a Military Personality?” reminded me that directness is taught to service members as a means “to communicate quickly, clearly and without any hint of self-doubt or ambiguity.”

It may come across as insensitive or brusque, but speaking directly is more efficient for those in the military biz, especially while problem-solving. Perhaps, then, I was wrong to misinterpret my husband’s managerial communication style. Not only was he used to speaking this way, he was trained to speak this way. Case closed? No. I still don’t like taking orders.