Dear Dr. Schlessinger,
I know you're a big supporter of the military, so I thought you might enjoy this. I'm a proud warrior's wife. My husband has been in the Navy for 18 years. I've been with him for 10+ years, and of those, we've been apart for 6+ years. Over the years, I have had lots of stupid comments from non-military people. I saw a blog with a list of things you should never say to the wife of a deployed soldier. After reading that blog, I felt compelled to make my own list. I'm a sarcastic person, so this is a bit tongue in cheek. I know sometimes it's hard for that to come across in the written word, so I hope you get me.
10. "At least he's on a ship and not on the ground." Yeah, you're right. Thanks for pointing that out. Ships are completely safe no one ever dies or gets seriously injured on a ship. It's not like they're a big target, floating around on the water for everyone to see. Terrorists have never floated up in a boat and blown a hole through the side of a ship. Ships have never had the guns of the Iranian military fixed and locked on them as they travel through the Straits of Hormuz. People never lose life and limb on a ship, and they're certainly not the target of terrorist attacks when they're on foreign soil during the 2 days they let them off the boat.
9. "At least you don't have kids." Oh yeah, you're right. It's much easier to go home to a completely empty house at night with no one to hug your neck and kiss you goodnight.
8. "Well, at least you have your family while he's gone." Really? The last time I checked, my closest family member was 2,000 miles away. Let me jump on my private jet and fly right over to have dinner with my mom.
7. "How much longer until he can get out?" Well, he's not getting out until he's ready. He's staying in until he retires. Usually when I tell people that, I get a look of pity, as if that's a fate worse than death.
6. "...but you get really good benefits." Oh yeah, let me drop to my knees and thank Uncle Sam for my amazing benefits. First of all, my husband is on duty 24/7, unlike most people who work 40 hours a week. He can't make plans to go away for a weekend unless he uses his leave. So, for his salary that amounts to under $7 an hour, here's what we get: Let's see, my health insurance is taken care of at no cost as long as I go to a military hospital. Have you ever been to a military hospital? And let's not forget, I can shop at the NEX and commissary where I get about 1/4 of the selection I would get at regular stores for about 2% of a cost. News flash: Navy families still have to shop at regular stores.
5. "Are you afraid something will happen to him?" No, I never thought about it until just now. Of course I think about it, every single day.
4. "At least you get to talk to him." Well, yes, I do. When the email is working, he can email me. When he's in port, he can call me. So, on the average 7 mo. deployment, he gets to call me a whopping 5 times. Yay me!
3. "I wish my husband would get sent away for a while." Then you must not have what we have. Every moment we're apart, it physically hurts. He's my best friend, my lover and my hero, and saying goodbye NEVER gets any easier.
2. "At least you keep yourself busy. He'll be back before you know it." No, he won't be back before I know it. No matter how much I throw myself into my job, I still go home and cry every night when I lie down to go to sleep in an empty bed.
And the all time dumbest thing that's ever been said to me is:
1. "My boyfriend is in Japan for two weeks for work. I know exactly how you feel." WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Yes sweetie, that's exactly the same. Your man was forced to fly business class to Japan, and he's having to suffer at a 4-star hotel. He has wireless internet access which the two of you use to video chat while you're at work, sitting 10 feet away from me. My husband flew on an Air Force cargo plane, sitting in a cargo net suspended from the wall of the inside of the plane. It's not pressurized so he had to wear 5 layers of clothing to prevent hypothermia. He had to wear industrial ear muffs to protect his ears from damage because of the noise. Once he caught another plane in Europe, he had to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, where two of his plane's tires blew upon landing because the ship was in such rough water the movement of the deck literally popped the tires. Once he arrives at the Hotel Haze Gray, he's met with luxurious accommodations such as a 2 in. thick mattress in a 7'x3' bunk, showering with 20 of his closest friends, and a tiny little locker to keep all his worldly belongings in. Your man gets to eat at business dinners, and gets wined and dined after 5 when business is over for the day. My husband works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. He eats what he's given. There's no room service menu to order from. He can either have chicken or beef, and that's it. Oh, and by the way, while you're over there at your desk video chatting with your live-in boyfriend, it's been over a month since I've gotten so much as an email or letter, because my husband is in a war zone. Yes, you're right, you must know exactly what my husband and I are going through. Thanks, I feel a lot better now.
Again, I'm a proud warrior's wife and am very happy to be married to him.
Thanks for your time Dr. Schlessinger! You keep me company every night on my long commute from law school, and for that I thank you.