Spouse 101

Dealing With the Drama

Article by Tim Blake, Army Spouse

One of the great things I love about the military lifestyle is the diverse backgrounds of those around you. You might meet someone from your hometown, then two minutes later meet another person from clear across the country.

During my 14 years as a military spouse, I’ve met people from all over the world-people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. It seems like every time we PCS, I’m surprised by the new places people are from. Of course, with so many people from so many different places (both in terms of geography and where they are personally in their lives) comes the inevitable clash in interests, personalities and desires. The technical milspouse term for this is drama.

Even if you’re brand new around here, I’m guessing you’ve heard it already. Nobody likes it, and yet it keeps creeping up. It happens in FRG groups, it happens in spouses groups, and it especially happens in base/post housing areas (lovingly referred to as “courtyard drama”). Issues between people fester and are left unresolved, making everyone tense and on edge. Before you know it, opposing groups of spouses form and a sort of “cold war” begins.

Everyone has experienced this, but few know what to do about it. I’d like to pass on a few suggestions, especially if you’re a new spouse, on how to keep yourself from being involved in “spouse drama.”

1) Don’t Get Lured In

LadydramaThis is probably the most important thing anyone will tell you today: You can avoid drama by not being a party to it. What does that mean? Issues grow between people because of the undercurrent of “talk” swirling around them.

Want another technical term? Here it is: gossip. We all know how juicy it can be and how satisfying it can feel to know some secret detail that you probably wouldn’t know otherwise. You really can’t stop someone from unloading their issues to you (especially if you have that “look” that says, “Hey, I’m a good listener!”). But you can turn your ears into a black hole. What goes in NEVER COMES BACK OUT. The best thing that someone can say about you in these types of situations should be, “I’m not sure where she stands…” or “I’m not sure where he stands…”

2) Don’t Instigate the Drama

Many times we go about our normal routines without any thought or realization of how our actions affect others. Ready for another technical term? Brace yourself: consideration.
Before you park in front of your house, ask yourself if your car is making it hard for your neighbor across the street to pull in and out of their driveway. Does your dog bark a lot? Think how that affects those next to you and think of it before that sweet dog of yours causes unnecessary drama.

In FRG meetings, do you have an answer for every question? Does it occur to you that others might want to contribute? Having a heightened sense of consideration can keep nearly any situation from rising to the level of an undeclared war. (Which happens a lot, given that we’re all already dealing with the challenges of real wars.)

3) Work Issues Out in Private
When you have an issue with one particular person, don’t try to work it out with everyone else. They aren’t part of the problem OR the solution. Go to the person with whom you’re having the problem and get to the bottom of it.

Work It OutHere’s your final technical term for the day: confrontation. It has such a bad connotation, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Go to that person and calmly try to work out your differences. Be honest and open with them, BUT don’t forget to realize that you might have done something that caused an offense.

There are two magical words that can diffuse nearly all forms of drama: “I’m sorry.” When you tell someone you’re sorry, it completely disarms them. It throws nice, cool water on their anger. Along those same lines, the phrase, “I forgive you” has nearly equal power. If someone tells you they are sorry, then forgive them, let it go, and don’t ever bring it up again. Drama defused.

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