Written by Bari D. Wald, Milspouse and Air Force Reservist
There’s something missing from our spouse community. A thing called respect.
We pride ourselves on being unique, resilient, adaptable, and a community of people who endure long absences from their loved one with grace, frequent moves without complaint, and ability to create a tribe-like community of military spouses wherever we go. So why…why then, are we so quick disrespect each other?
Recently, I wrote an article that drew mass criticism from the spouse community. The article, “I let daycare raise my kids…and I’m not ashamed,” drew an uproar of comments centered on how horrible of a mother I was, that I should have never had kids, and for the most part, were comments that ripped me, and my ability to be a parent, to pieces.
When writing that article, I expected there would be disagreement, there always is when putting your opinion out there.
What I didn’t expect was the abhorrent comments that were posted by my fellow “spouse community.” Interestingly enough, a few days later, another article was posted in which the author, a military spouse, was berated as well. That article titled “I am military,” drew comments of the likes below.
“You are most certainly not military. You’re disrespectful and pathetic is what you are.”
“These types of spouses give the rest of us a bad name with this kind of BS!”
“Some wives need to get over themselves.”
Wow…harsh much? Where’s the respect? After reading the comments on her article, I got to thinking…is this a sign of a problem within our spouse community?
So I tested the waters.
I shared my article on a Facebook group I belong to that consists only of female Air Force officers. The reaction? A complete 180. Yes, people still disagreed with me, with my article, with my beliefs…but guess what was different?
They were tactful and respectful in their comments, which in turn made me take a step back and analyze them, absorb their words, and think about things in another light and from their point-of-view. Why was this article posting experience so vastly different from the initial one? Well, probably because as military members we are taught to respect each other. Moreover, we are sisters-in-arms, we SHOULD have each other’s back, and we do.
Imagine if we did this as a spouse community? If we had each other’s back? If we really LISTENED and LEARNED from one another, and RESPECTED each other, instead of attacked, condescend, and pass judgment. Can you imagine the bond and support system we could create?
It’s funny because the military spouse lifestyle is all about, “Hey, let’s be BFF’s and do stuff together, and bond, and be in this spouse-life together…” but then there’s this dark-side of shaming, and name-calling, making assumptions, and disrespect. It happens in-person and online. Yes, most of it happens online, and I’m not naïve enough to think that will be eradicated anytime soon, but what I hope some of you take away from this is that we need to step-up our culture of respect as spouses, and it is our individual responsibility to do so.
My first Wing Commander was big on having a culture of respect. That priority crept into everything we did, how we were treated and how we treated others. Ultimately, that culture contributed to the success of the Wing itself and the success of the people serving there.
So hey, fellow spouses, let’s create a culture of respect. Online. In-real-life. Always.