Confession: I’m STILL a Clueless Army Wife


Because my husband works for the Army, our lives are unpredictable. This shocking to none of you! You know exactly what I’m talking about.

My husband is on some awkward in-between orders right now so we’re living a life of limbo.

We moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina. But we might be back in Wisconsin in six months.

Or stay in North Carolina for the next six years.

And who knows when they’ll let us know. Because planning in advance would cause a severe reduction in ulcers and anxiety for milspouses around the world (Anyone else ever curious if the military is running some giant anxiety experiment on spouses?!).

Because of this LimboLand we’re living in, I was thrilled to hear that my husband was offered a (very unexpected) promotion!

He failed to talk to me about the date that he selected for his promotion ceremony. He talked to his co-workers. He talked to his Army buddy who booked a flight to be there to pin him. But he forgot to discuss it with me.

It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s only the day before a big deadline in my own job. He came home, literally one week and two days before said ceremony and this was our exact conversation during dinner:

“Johnson reserved the place and scheduled the photographer,” my husband said.
“What?” I responded.
“For next Thursday,” he replied.
“For what?” I asked.
“For my promotion ceremony. We can’t do it Friday, so we picked Thursday.”

Commence conversation about me having no clue he was even planning it for next week

“So what do you need me to do?”

This question opened a whole new discussion.

We’re new here, and I have no clue how promotions are typically done. My husband responds, “Well, Johnson said we can do whatever we want, and he gave me the name of a spot that people typically go after, so we’re going to do that.”

“What else? Do they normally have cake? What about food? What do I wear?” and he literally responded: “We don’t need cake. I don’t know what people do. Whatever we want, I guess.”

These are the matters that I wish the FRG would offer up help on. I’m not saying plan the party, but give us some guidelines on how things are done at this unit. What’s the typical protocol? I feel like I’m always on the outside, always a step behind.

In the AGR program, they didn’t do anything for promotions other than a quick ceremony, sometimes on a drill floor if it was free. But we’re in a much different situation now.

This promotion is a big deal. We didn’t think he’d get the opportunity to promote to E-8 because of the way that the AGR program in Wisconsin works. Plus, it’s worth celebrating! He has worked really hard, put in long hours, and I felt that we should be celebrating his accomplishment.

I’m a chronic expectation exceeder. If I don’t know what is expected, how can I exceed? Cue anxiety.

I asked him to head back to his co-worker who has been through some promotion ceremonies in this unit, but he still didn’t seem to care.

Off to my BFF: Google.

This is what my search for “What do you plan for your husband’s Army promotion” returned: this article, this one, more about promotion ceremonies, etiquette, and even a pin.

Do you want to know what every blog post I found had in common: cake.

Needless to say, I ordered a cake…

…and the bakery misspelled his rank (which we all got a good laugh out of)…

…but it was a hit.

Moral of the story: Do whatever your husband wants. Let go of expectations.

And bring a cake.


About Jolene McNutt

Jolene McNutt is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She co-owns a business with her retired teacher dad creating hands-on resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for nine years. Phil is serving as part of the Active Duty Guard Reserve (AGR) in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - possibly the best kept secret in the Army! They have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a 90-pound lap dog, Odin. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1.

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