Are You “Telling It like It Is” or Are You Just a Bully?

Are you just a bullyAs milspouses, we often throw around the word “drama” a lot.  Okay, a-lot-a-lot.  I think that one of the biggest issues in the military spouse community is not necessarily the drama that people call “telling it like it is,” it’s bullying.

Don’t believe me?  Just take a spin around Google or Twitter or even Facebook.  There are a  number of sites dedicated to military spouses tearing down other  military spouses.  And no, I won’t link to those pages because I’d hate to give them the satisfaction of increasing their site traffic.  If you haven’t seen them, just take my word for it.  They exist.

The worst part?  Those bullying sites are considered entertainment.  Entertainment.  How pathetic.  The targets of those sites are real people with real lives and the comments and rumor mongering can leave a horrible, and sometimes, permanent mark on lives.

There’s a big difference between kindly correcting someone and the kind of verbal aggression we see online in comments and communities to “teach someone a lesson”.

Just look at the comments section on an article by a military spouse writer on Babble who chose to use the word “deployment” rather loosely. You would’ve thought she committed high-treason based on some of the reactions.

Military Spouse Bullying

There are so many things that some military spouses bully other military spouses over.  As we discussed on Facebook, many of us have experienced military spouse bullying first hand. Here are just a few examples:

  • They bully unmarried partners because they aren’t a milspouse yet and have no idea what it’s really all about
  • Bullying milspouses by playing the “who had it worst” or “you don’t know what a real deployment is” or “my separation was longer than yours” game
  • Judging milspouse life choices concerning career, education, homeschooling or staying at home
  • Pulling rank or patronizing a spouse motivated by rank or the ever-present enlisted/officer divide
  • Excluding military spouses from events or clubs, like in the 2013 case of Ashley Broadway and the Association of Bragg Officer’s Spouses.

Stop MilSpouse Bullying In Its Tracks

We don’t tolerate our children being bullies (or at least, we shouldn’t) so why is it any different as adults?  We might think that adults are capable of handling themselves and it’s none of our business, but  you don’t outgrow having your feelings hurt  along with your Superman jammies.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to take a stand and have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. Don’t allow it happen around you or to you.

Don’t stand by and silently witness a milspouse tearing down another milspouse.  And remember, just because that guy you met at the deployment ceremony is “just dating” his soldier doesn’t mean he can’t relate to you and just because that girl you met at a social event is going through a 2-month TDY while you are going through a 9-month deployment doesn’t mean she can’t miss her husband.

We are all equals in this crazy thing called loving someone who serves their country.

We need each other.  We need all strength, support and understanding we can get regardless of our life’s journey.  Remember, after all, we are #OneForce.

Have you witnessed milspouse bullying?  How do you think we can best address this problem?  Share your thoughts with us.

 

28 COMMENTS

  1. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I couldn’t agree more. I get a lot of crap from spouses because I work. I’ve been asked why I work. If I work because we’re horrible with money and have financial issues. If I work because I don’t trust my husband. If I work because I don’t really like my child.

    I’m judged because my daughter isn’t biologically my husband’s. He’s been in her life since she was a year old (She’s 6 now) and is her Dad as her biological father isn’t involved. We’ve been married for three years and have not had a child. I’m asked often why I won’t “give him a kid of his own”, if I’m infertile, if I’m being selfish, if I’m too worried about gaining weight, if I don’t trust him. He and I are happy with how our family is now and have no plans to change it anytime soon.

    I was lectured a few months ago because I wasn’t distraught that my husband popped orders for a remote tour a couple weeks after returning from deployment. I handle deployment differently than many people and enjoy the experience and knowing he’s doing what he wants to do. To a lot of spouses, this means I am either cheating because I don’t get upset when he’s not home or that I’m just using him for benefits or don’t actually love him.

    I keep to myself, I work full time and I busy myself with volunteering, reading and feeding my fashion addiction. This makes me a snob apparently.

    I’m also secure in my relationship and don’t fear my husband cheating while overseas. This means I am stupid because I don’t check his email or Facebook and I don’t call him daily. (If you call them, they can’t cheat apparently) I’ve been told I am giving him “too much freedom” and that I will have to accept the fact that all men cheat while overseas.

    How can we fix this?

    Hobbies and self esteem. Bullies need to feel superior. So they bring down others they see as a threat or as someone smaller than them. If they make others feel like crap, they feel better.

    So we need to teach spouses that we’re all in this together. Everyone is different. No relationship is the same. What happens to you, doesn’t happen to everyone. Find the good in the world. Celebrate that.

    Focus on yourself and making yourself a better person instead of focusing on others flaws.

    Get a hobby, get something that makes you feel accomplished.

    • Amen, lady! I think sometimes “we are all in this together” translates to “we are all the same” which we are not. You are right every marriage, relationship and person is different.
      It sounds like the people you know are insecure in their own lives and are threatened by your confidence, it sounds to me like you have it together and just have the misfortune of knowing a lot of insecure people.
      People are going to judge whatever they can.

  2. I’m in the “judged because we’re not married” camp. I recently moved from Texas, where I was working on my Masters degree to Washington… Somewhere I’ve never been and don’t know anyone, to be with my boyfriend. I get judged for doing that without a ring on it. The ring will come. I am going to finish school here. We’ve been together over a year, it’s not like I did this after only knowing him for 3 weeks or something.

    And Christina, we deal with the judgment all the time. My bf has a son who will be 4 in Feb, I’m not his mom. My son just turned 2 on Monday and my bf isn’t his dad. My son calls my bf “daddy” because he’s the only father figure he’s ever known. His son calls me Brandi. We always get “so when are you two going to have a kid together?” Um… None ya biz. Lol

    • You’ll get to the marriage thing when you get there. I personally think it took some major cajones to move to WA without a ring on it, so good for you. And I hope you finish your degree! And I think it’s cute that T$ calls your bf “daddy.”
      Don’t worry about what everyone else says, just do what makes you happy and what makes life easier.

  3. This sounds like the whining of every mil spouse “support” page that I’ve come across. You cannot expect hundreds or thousands of people to agree. Disagreeing isn’t drama or bullying – it’s just stating one’s opinion. How about a blog related to censorship on mil spouse pages??? The “if you don’t agree, you’re banned” policy? Sometimes the answer isn’t “oh, I’m so sorry”, sometimes the realistic answer is “put on your big girl panties and suck it up”. Most pages want you to ignore common sense for the sake of being “drama free”. That isn’t help, it’s blowing smoke up each other’s asses.

    • We definitely agree that not everyone is going to agree at all times or ever. Nor are we naive enough to think that milsposues are all going to hold hands and sing Kumbayah. However, there’s a big difference between respectfully disagreeing with someone and forcing your opinion on someone else. I can understand how frustrating it is to be censored and I can tell you that as long as you have something constructive to add to the conversation on NextGen, in a respectful manner, you won’t see censorship here.

      • Adrianna,
        I’d take it a step further… it’s not just forcing your opinion on someone else that is the problem, it is actively tearing others down, being purposefully hurtful and disrespectful. As military spouses we should hold ourselves accountable to the very same values that the military holds dear: loyalty, duty, RESPECT, selfless service, honor, INTEGRITY, and personal courage (Army).

  4. There is a LOT of bullying going on between military spouses and I think this problem needs much more exposure. Not sweeping under the rug as simple disagreement. I’ve personally witnessed CPT. Spouses targeting the reputations of Senior NCO spouses via rumor and innuendo in order to keep them out of what they consider “their” FRG. I’ve seen Officer spouses refuse to sit at a table in a social situation with enlisted spouses because they consider themselves “different” than the enlisted spouse. I’ve seen spouses black-balled from social events because the mean girls only want their friends to attend even though the un-invited spouses know the events are taking place and they are purposely being left out. This IS bullying and there is plenty of it going on. When spouses put themselves and each other into “classes” or “categories” or “boxes” and then treat people differently based off that class, category or box it’s wrong! Gossiping about another spouse with the intent to spread titilating information whether its true or not, in the attempt to make someone look bad or feel bad IS bullying. Making someones life so miserable that they don’t feel comfortable participating in unit events, IS bullying. In the end all spouses are simply that. A spouse. A dependent of a soldier and are all equal. Bullying in any way shape or form should be considered 100% unacceptable.

    • You are absolutely right, and it’s hard to know how to handle these types of situations as adults. How do you handle an adult bully with out being a bully yourself. It’s a hard situation all around. I don’t know that there is any answer but I hope that more and people see it for what it is and bring attention to it so that it happens less.

    • Yes, this is true bullying is happening in the military. Wives need to be a little more supportive to one another because we don’t know what people have been through and being mean is not the way to resolve any issues. Bullying is just as bad as getting into a physical altercation words can be just as brutal.

  5. I’m in the “just a girlfriend” camp, too. (I recently got my first hate comment on my blog about being “just a girlfriend.”) I’ve learned to just ignore it; I tell myself it’s OK because I have amazing friends (both military spouses and civilians) and have never been one to have a TON of people around me. But one thing bugs me – at some point, they were dating their soldier/sailor/Marine (unless they were an arranged marriage) and they seem to have forgotten what it’s like.

    • Sorry to hear about the nasty comment, that’s always the worst! Good friends make everything better. One thing I’m sure you will never do is bully another spouse for being “just a girlfriend” which is great, and I hope more spouses do the same. And I definitely don’t forget being a girlfriend, it was no cakewalk.

  6. I haven’t had this experience at all, in fact, I’ve felt nothing but supported by the military SO’s I’ve met. However, I’ve noticed that milso bullying is rife on Twitter where it’s easy to be anonymous and not have to take any responsibility or deal with repercussions. I cannot stand reading all of the negative comments, so I just unfollow them. It sounds so simple, but if we all do it every time we notice bullying online, they won’t have megaphone to use to blast other people.

    • I hate twitter and all of the “anon” drama lately.
      But you are very lucky to have never experienced or seen the bullying in real life. It’s 100x worse in real life than on twitter.

  7. Love this! Honestly, I think a class needs to be held just for military spouses on how to conduct yourself. Even if people don’t want to admit it, the way you behave reflects on the military member, the spouse, the children, and the whole military community.

  8. I have a little different perspective on this. I’m an officer’s wife. I will tell you that I have NEVER given my husband’s rank out when I first meet people. I hate wearing those stupid name tags at joint spouse events. Usually, if there is a spot for rank, I put something like sardonic, because I don’t want to be associated with any arbitrary rank structure. I was an officer when I was active duty, but I’m not in the Air Force anymore. I say rank amongst spouses is like chasity amongst prostitutes.

    That being said, I have experienced some bullying from enlisted spouses, and it was really quite surprising. I don’t really fit in with officer spouses, but I’m amazed by some behavior I have experienced. When my son was two I was kicked out of a playgroup, because a newer spouse didn’t like that I was the only officer spouse at the play group. I never said anything about my husband, I never said anything about what he did, and I was informed by the playgroup leader that I was no longer welcome. When I questioned why, she told me one spouse was not comfortable having an officer’s wife at the playgroup. I have friends literally dump me after they find out what my husband is.

    I have also witnessed firsthand officer’s wives treat enlisted wives like crap. I have been treated like crap by those same wives. If someone is a witch, the rank of their husband isn’t going to change that, and the rank of their husband isn’t going mean that a person is a witch.

    Long drawn out meandering post short– the people who treat you horribly, they treat everyone horribly, it doesn’t matter what their rank is, and it’s not just relegated to officer’s spouses.

    • I’m an officer’s wife too, and you hit the nail on the head! I don’t see myself through my husbands rank, as far as I’m concerned I’m just Jules from the block. However, once some people find out then I’m out. It’s frustrating and lonely. I try to not mention his rank for as long as I can in hopes that we can stay friends. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. It’s weird, and I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to it.

    • I’m glad that I have the experience of being a veteran (prior enlisted Army 10 years) as well as now, the spouse of a soldier soon to retire. My husband and I were dual Active Army for 5 of my 10 years in service, and I must say, it is very different being a “dependant” that knows the other side of the game. I find that I do not relate well to the spouses that are all “Proud Army Wife 4-Ever” type individuals, with all the little tee shirts ‘Army wife…hardest job in the Army’ and ACU purses with their man’s rank, combat patch(es) and last name on it. To me, this stuff is incredible disrespectful to those of us who have served and/or are still serving. I understand that for some of the spouses, being married to a service member is a challenge, as they have never been away from home, and being thrust into a new environment with kids to care for may be daunting to some. I would urge young couples, elisted or not, to use caution then, before reproducing. It’s no cakewalk, I do understand. But, try doing it all as a single female soldier, or a female soldier whose better half is deployed and you’re back home tying up all the loose ends with home and kiddos before YOU deploy, too.

      Hardest job in the military is being a spouse? Really? Try getting shot at every other day for a year and some change while wearing full battle rattle and running logpac in a combat zone. Try having to navigate a ‘safer’ route into more unknown terriotry to pick up supplies due to ambushes being radioed in from the ‘usual’ route. Try seeing horrific scenes on the sides of the road and then going to your cot at night and thinking of your kids. Try dealing with this and more (I’m keeping it PG-13) while also worrying about those you left behind and remaining focused on your mission. So, I’ll never see eye to eye with these types of spouses. Pride is fine and admirable, but most take it way overboard.

      I will never forget the day my husband and his battalion assembled in the gym before deployment to Afghanistan. I was freshly civilian then. All of the crying and over the top weeping spouses (some obviously faking) gave me some ambivalent feelings. I wonder if they know what all that emotion does to the mind of the spouse who has to go away? Being old hat to deployment, my husband and I just exchanged hugs and kisses and spared each other the dramatics. I told him, “I’ll see you soon, Petname” and he told me the same. He boarded the bus after kissing our kids who also remained stoic because they saw me set the example. There were other spouses who acted similarly…mostly older couples who also know the game, even if the spouse has never served. However, most of the young wives in my immediate surroundings looked at me with contempt and hate, as if to challenge and question my love for my husband. Really? Because I’m not stressing him out by acting like a weakling? Please, okay?

      Don’t even get me started on the FRG and the spouses that wear their husband (or wives) rank. I never did the FRG even as a solider. I always found a way out of the ‘mandatory fun’ of FRG because those women are such a trip. Just one big gossip festival, and no thank you. I graduated high school in 98. I just cannot relate to many military wives and frankly, after going all around the world and seeing the same song, I don’t think I want to, nor am I obligated to. I am a different creature than them, and vice verse.

      • Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. I am sure that your experience is very different because you’ve seen it from the other side. You get it. As a spouse who is not veteran, I have to take objection with the idea that tears are not necessarily dramatics nor are they a sign of weakness or being a weakling…everyone experiences emotion differently and processes things differently. There’s a huge difference between a few tears and over the top hysterics.

        I think we can both agree that we’ve all seen some really overboard spouses; I’d like to say that’s not the norm. They just stick out like a sore thumb.

  9. I dont think there is any difference between the military and civilian world on this topic. Everything listed is the same in the civilian world. Being a stay at home mom vs a working mom, having a degree or title vs not having one, being legally married or living together, who grew up harder than who, who’s husband is gone more on a business trip. Bullying has been around since biblical times, whether your religious or not! It has been around that long. The world has not been a kind place since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. You can dwell on hoe others dont like you and are negative towards you or grow some self worth and let their thoughts roll off of your shoulder. I think we are all guilty at judging someone in some way at some point in our lives. We judge parenting styles while out eating dinner, we judge the clothes people wear, how people talk or look. Even this article and comments are judging people. Just because you think you are judging the “bad seeds” or the “bulliers,” so to speak, doesn’t mean you’re not using some form of hatred. And judging is really just a form of bullying isn’t it? But instead of to someone’s face, it’s in your head or behind their back. We are all gulity! No one here is Jesus Christ! We all deserve to be pinned to the cross! (If you’re not a Christian, you can still understand the metaphore.)

  10. […] Nextgen Milspouse posted a great article entitled, Are you ‘Telling it like it is’ or are you Just a Bully? As adults, I think it’s always important to ask ourselves ‘Am I the adult I want my child to be?’ We don’t tolerate child bullying. We’ve all seen the horrendous and horrifying consequences of child bullying. I think it’s important to proceed with caution when we use our words to fight against someone rather than work with them. The Nextgen article is right, we shouldn’t just standby and watch another military spouse suffer through a barrage of bullying, or even worse, start participating in the bullying ourselves. We are all bigger than this. We are all in the same community, and we should embrace it. […]

  11. […] of compassion. If you’re jealous of the spouse whose husband never has to go outside the wire or looking down on the struggling spouse whose husband is deployed to a safe place for a shorter period of time, it wears away at your […]

  12. I know this comment is late, but this article hit the mark on the head. In 2012, I was having a hell of a time with my husband’s deployment. We had just gotten married, and I was worried sick about him and just didn’t know how to handle a deployment. To make it worse, the spouses in the unit were absolutely horrible. Told me I was selfish, unsupportive of my husband, that I needed to “get it together,” and they even turned the few friends I had made against me. I had no one. Many people say that you can’t go through a deployment alone – that your milspouse friends help you get through it, and without them, you would be lost. Well I’m here to say, I went through it alone because of these military spouse bullies. What I needed was for someone to say “yeah it sucks, but I’m here for you. I’ve been through it before so I know what you’re feeling.” I know without a doubt that if/when my husband deploys again, I will be able to better take it in stride and handle myself better. But I never want anyone else to go through what I went through. Now we are at a different duty station, and a fellow military spouse’s husband is about to go through his first deployment. She’s struggling much in the same way I was three years ago. It would be easy for me to roll my eyes and say “ugh she’ll learn, she’ll get over it.” But remembering how hurtful that was, I have made sure that she knows I’m there to support her and that she doesn’t need to go through it alone. I would never want to be one of those bullies that I had to deal with. No one deserves to go through that. We need to all be better than that.

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