FO Blogs - The Worst Things You Can Say to a Woman Whose Husband is Deployed
I have a lot of friends with husbands who are deployed right now. For most of them this is at least their second or third deployment to go through as a couple. So the other day I was talking with a friend whose husband is currently deployed and we started talking about the most annoying things that usually well-meaning people say to us regarding deployments. We agreed that we are always polite in our responses and that we realize that the offending person usually had only the best of intentions. But here's what we came up with as the things we get asked or told that really make our skin crawl. They're not in any particular order. Feel free to add some of your own in the comments.
1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?"
(This one ranks in at number one on my "duh" list. Of course we're afraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds ---but thanks, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they're scared of dying.)
2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."
(Though this is really annoying, I feel bad about mentioning it because I know that it is intended to be a compliment. Still, it's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked/told to take on a challenging job and we rose to the challenge.)
3. "At least he's not in Iraq."
(This is the number one most annoying comment for my friends whose husbands are in Afghanistan. As one friend put it, "What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? A huge game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there, too.")
4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?"
(Don't you watch the news? No. They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.)
5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"
(Short answer: Try to keep my sanity. Maybe there's a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves, but I have yet to meet her. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don't get bored.)
6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"
(This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because (gasp!) they love what they do.)
7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."
(Sure, we do learn coping skills. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets easy and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.)
8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through."
(This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband's three week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a one-year deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious trip length difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for comparing a combat deployment to a business trip.)
9. "Don't you miss him?"
(Like number one, this one gets a big "duh" from me. Of course we miss our husbands. If we didn't, we'd get divorced.)
10. "Where is that?"
(I don't expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Province on a map, but they should know by now that it's in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada al Sadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Know that Iran is a major threat to our country and that it is located between Afghanistan and Iraq. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for six and a half years and at war in Iraq for four years. These basic facts are not secrets, they're on the news every night and in the papers every day ---and on maps everywhere. You've had time to learn it. Do your part by at least knowing what is going on.)