I’m a military spouse, and I don’t have children. You wouldn’t believe the reactions I get informing other spouses of my… lifestyle.
My husband and I recently PCS’ed to Ramstein, or as I like to call it: the place where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. If you don’t understand, just wait until you get your first speeding ticket off post. Of course, after dealing with the usual PCS headaches, we came to realize that we knew no one. In the entire country. Where we don’t speak the language. This needed to change.
I’m a fairly sociable person after I’ve had my morning coffee, so upon arriving, I tried to put myself out there to make friends. I would start conversations with basically anyone because I missed the day in kindergarten where we are told not to talk to strangers. When we began talking about ourselves, I would say how I’m a writer (my level of success is never mentioned) and have an insane mutt with a fear of buckets. Then, without fail, the dreaded question would arise, “And what about your children?”
Not wanting to screw up a possible friendship, I would put on a grin and say how my husband and I haven’t had any.
“Oh, are you trying though?” Wait… what? I can never believe how often this is asked.
“Nah. It’s my biggest fear to go into labor surrounded by people who don’t speak English.” There we go, problem solved.
“Oh, I think you should. There are medical facilities on post and you wouldn’t have the distractions like you would back in the states.”
“Well, we just don’t want them.” You would have thought I slapped her own child by saying that. Look, I know what you’re thinking, but these have all been said to me during my time here. I don’t want to act like motherhood is beneath me, so I try to joke. Hey, I know how hard raising a kid can be. I have enough issues dealing with the emotional needs of my dog. The idea of having children is overwhelming.
It is very difficult to be a child-free spouse in a military environment. Nearly everything for military families is geared towards those with children. I understand the need for it, but it would be so nice to have a way to find other spouses that are in situations similar to mine. It’s hard to bond over whether or not someone should breastfeed.
Sometimes I wonder if we without offspring are considered spouses to most on base. I mean, last I checked, I have the ring, husband, incredible amount of debt from our wedding, and killer health insurance that says I am married. I hope so, anyway. If not, I have no idea how I’m going to explain the last year to my mother.
Maybe, next time you make conversation with someone who doesn’t have a kid next to them, don’t assume they have one. Instead, talk about hobbies, or good (and bad) places to eat, or if either of you has ever gotten the Tricare site to work. There are tons of spouses out there without kids… I hope. We just haven’t been noticed yet.
So, I call upon child free spouses to call out. Be heard! I want to find you, as I’m sure so many others do. We can have meetings, or socials, or wine nights. Actually, my vote is totally for wine nights.
Photo Credit: Christian Fu Mueller