Military Life

Ask A Service Member

Dear Captain,

I am both a new military spouse and new to base living.  Since moving on to base about two months ago, I’ve made some really great friends and also found things to be nervous about I didn’t even consider.  Last week, one neighbor told me that that last person that lived here caused a bunch of drama around the neighborhood and with other spouses and that it ended up causing her husband to be reprimanded by his command.  I don’t plan on stirring up trouble, but it had me worried–what kind of things could someone do to get their spouse in trouble? 

Also, I work full time, so I can’t always attend all his unit events.  Many of the spouses do and so I feel a little left out.  Someone also told me that my not attending events could have a negative affect on my husband’s career. 

This is all new to me and I’m so concerned that I’m going to accidentally do something that causes my husband to get in trouble.  Thanks for any advice.

Nervous Marine Spouse Newbie



Dear ‘Nervous Marine Spouse Newbie”

When you say that the last person who lived at your residence “caused quite a bit of drama,” it usually means something much worse than failing to attend mandatory fun. That usually means things like showing up at events or public areas, like “mandatory fun” or the commissary, in an inappropriate or inappropriate state (such as drunk, or scandalously dressed); contacting the command to complain about your service member’s work, as in why he/she didn’t get promoted, or why he/she is out late training; or–worst of all–starting rumors about spousal infidelity, yours or others. For the sake of good order and discipline, commands will take action of you do any of those things! But if you don’t intend to make a public spectacle of yourself, then don’t worry! You won’t cause any drama at all.

For some reason, “mandatory fun” causes a lot of stress, even though it really is too unimportant to be a source of drama one way or another. As a service member, I will tell you that when your Commander tells you that “spouses are welcome,” it puts some pressure on you to bring your spouse. But it’s not professional pressure–you won’t endanger your service member’s career if you don’t attend (though he/she may act like it will). It’s really just personal pressure from your service member’s desire to make a good impression on his/her commander. And most commanders understand if a spouse can’t attend due to work.

Remember, though, that when your service member attends family “mandatory fun” alone, it’s not much fun. At those events, couples generally talk to other couples and the single attendees have little else to do but stand around talking awkwardly (and drinking). So I would encourage you to try to attend “mandatory” fun when you can–if only for the sake of your service member.

Hang in there!

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