Smashing Military Spouse Stereotypes

I’d like to tackle a traditional military spouse stereotype of…(gasp)…the officer’s wife.

We’ve all seen these women at functions, probably wearing makeup and Spanx, walking around and talking to everyone, maybe even smiling at everyone through her teeth.

Who does she think she is?

I will never forget my first introduction to the stereotypical officer’s wife stereotype. My husband was graduating from Army basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Another spouse and I were making small-talk with the lady waiting in line with us at the commissary. During the first few minutes of our conversation, she let us in on a secret…

Officer’s wives had to apply makeup in the hospital immediately after they delivered their babies!

We were mortified. The horror and outrage that these poor women had to fix themselves up because they were officer’s wives blew our very naive and impressionable minds. I’ve been a military spouse for almost 14 years and that horrific secret has yet to be proven, thank goodness!

My husband and I entered the military when we were both 28 years old. I attribute the lack of getting wrapped up in the whole officer’s wife and enlisted wife stereotypical misconception to two of my favorite life philosophies: “Never judge a book by its cover,” and “Save the drama for your mama.”

I feel that military spouses have evolved both spiritually and emotionally; we’ve matured out of the Old Army during the past 20 plus years, thus squashing some of the ridiculousness that accompanies throwing any group of women into the same bucket.

Ladies, we are the backbones of the military family. We are charged with taking on the daunting tasks of nurturing our children, communities, and our spouse sisterhood while our service members are away. It is the diversity of our military families that unites us and makes us stronger, together.

I have personally been disrespected by officer’s wives and by enlisted wives. No military spouse has the right to wear their husbands rank—no one. I maintain strong friendships with both officer and enlisted spouses.

The key is that everyone has their own stories; we are all unique and bring our individuality to each and every relationship we decide to cultivate—or not.

I am a relationship-type of girl. If I feel a connection to a like-minded, positive energy-toting, fun- and pure-spirited person, I befriend them. No matter their background, age, culture, politics, or education—friendships grown out of dual respectfulness always prevail!

Instead of perpetuating this whole divide among military spouses, I charge you to look beyond your own misgivings and eradicate these negative, false, and unfair pre-judgments. Open your mind, and I guarantee you will be surprised how much more we have in common as military spouses than what we do not.

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About Sara Jane Arnett

Sara Jane Arnett is a seasoned Army spouse of 13 years, mother of dragons (four boys), and considers supporting fellow military families as one of her greatest joys. She serves in various leadership roles through military and civilian organizations such as Family Readiness Groups, community events, non-profits, and schools. Sara Jane currently serves as a Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion FRG Senior Advisor and is an Army Family Team Building and Four Lenses Self Discovery Instructor. Sara Jane actively collaborates with FRG leaders, volunteers, BN staff and company commanders throughout the state of Michigan, ensuring all families are taken care of and remain valued.

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