“As a bride new to the Marine Corps, at first you may feel strange among the military, but with the passing of time, various assignments, and different stations you will come to have a Marine wife’s point of view in addition to the feeling of belonging.” — “The Marine Corps Wife,” Sally Jerome and Nancy Britton Shea.
On the day that my husband commissioned, his (retired military) grandfather gave me a book about becoming a good Marine Corps wife — that was written in 1955. Go figure; the book is full of that gorgeous, kitschy ’50s housewife mentality, and it’s really pleasant to read (and, more often than not, will make sure giggle). Advice ranges from strange, detached comments on acclimatizing — see above! — to amusingly precise details on budgeting, entertaining, and “marketing” (grocery shopping, for all of us millennial plebs).
While this is a cute little book, I’ve honestly never actually read it cover to cover. I mean, the book was written fifty years ago, for one thing. Mostly, though, I’ve found that advice from other people has been more than sufficient to help me with any issues in my own military marriage. What does [X] mean? How do we prepare for a move? Where do I go to get [X] signed?
With that being said, there’s one little tic in military life that I can’t imagine I will ever get used to: Unsolicited advice.
Raise a hand (or a coffee, or that evening glass of Merlot) if you’ve ever been flabbergasted by the lunacy of all those voices — family members, friends, and fellow military spouses — who just keep on pushing all that *advice* on you which, no, thank you very much, you did not ask for.
When you make a flippant comment about Tricare. When you mentioned that you’d like to be able to afford a new fridge. When you noted that your spouse hadn’t been home for three weeks. When you find out you’re about to move to a new place, and you need to talk about how you’re intimidated, once again. There’s always that one irritating, apparently omniscient voice piping up in the back row: “Let me tell you how you should handle the situation! Let me enlighten you! I don’t even know what rhetorical questions are, anyways!”
Here are our top five pet peeve pieces of asinine, unsolicited crap that masquerades as “advice” — let us know what we missed!
1. Financial Advice.
“You don’t have to worry about money! You get a free house and healthcare!”
“His money is your money!”
Dear Unsolicited Financial Expert: How did you get to have a sneak peek into our bank accounts? I’m guessing you’re not a cyber warfare expert, so the odds are slim.
I’m just going to lay this out there, plain and simple: Never presume you know anything about a family’s personal finances. It is rude. Shut your trap.
As far as I’m concerned, I don’t give a hoot how you split your money, what you earn, how much debt you have, et cetera — and I most certainly don’t need you to know any of this information about my husband and I.
Are we good? Okay. Let’s move on!
2. How You Should Spend Your Time In Your Spouse’s Absence.
“Come home for the deployment!”
“Just make sure you’re staying busy!”
Because, of course, we spouses are programmed to turn into headless chickens as soon as our significant other leaves us for any longer than a week! That’s exactly how it works!
Whether or not you have a difficult time when your spouse is away, I’m sure you’re well practiced in the art of keeping your hackles down when someone tries to tell you how to deal with field ops/deployments/etc.
My personal favorites are the ones who assume I’ll trot merrily off back to Mom and Dad as soon as my husband leaves — as if I didn’t have a house to run, pets to pet, a job to work, and a ton of friends out here at our (remote) duty station.
Whatever your personal big peeve — don’t tell them to go to hell. Just work on your best neutral face and the art of taking deep breaths.
3. Family Planning Jibes.
“Enjoy your freedom, wait to have kids!”
“Hurry up and have babies!”
Hey guys! Guess what? The size of my family is none of your business!
So my husband and I got a dog. In case you weren’t aware, it seems that a small portion of people seem to believe that puppies are, in fact, gateway drugs to babies! Heaven forbid we just wanted to rescue a delightful golden ham — nope, it was definitely a sign that I should get knocked up pronto!
Spoiler alert: We have no intention of reproducing any time soon (and yes, I can be sure of this, because there’s this awesome thing called birth control). But man … the social pressure to start popping out a mini-me army is so real. Then again, I can only imagine the pressure from the other side, too.
Let’s just silently agree to keep family planning contained within the family it pertains to, yes?
4. “You signed up for this!”
CLASSIC. *slow clap*
Now, give me a second to find some words.
This was pretty unanimously the biggest peeve among the ladies I questioned before writing this piece. I think we can all agree that certain elements of the military lifestyle catch you off-guard, and yes — sometimes its hard to bear. Sometimes you need to vent a little — guess what? It’s okay! No-one’s perfect; no-one can be strong all the time. No-one can be expected to be sweet and silent all the time, either. So if I make an off-hand comment about how it’s lame that I rarely see my husband, or that I’m nervous about a deployment, telling me that I “signed up for this” is just … mean.
Remember, nine times out of then, these five flippant, grossly unhelpful words are the trump card of the holier-than-thou. At the end of the day: You know you’re strong, you know you’ll stick out the bad days, and you know you’re perfectly entitled to your freedom of speech.
Did we miss anything? Let us know your least favorite pieces of unsolicited advice in the comments!