This month on NextGen MilSpouse we’re taking a deeper look at common decisions constantly made in the course of military life. We want to know the motivation behind our decisions whether or not to geobach, why or why not to delay higher education, whether to volunteer or seek paid employment and what goes into deciding to transition out of military life.
With so many decisions to make, it’s no wonder that military spouses have become experts at its crowdsourcing for advice. We’ve created hundreds, if not thousands, of crowdsourcing communities to connect with other military spouses to share insight on everything from where to live to how to survive your first deployment.
Just for laughs, check out this hilarious graphic from a military spouse blogger at Semi-Delicate Balance about How Military Spouse Facebook Discussions Seem to Go Down:
Not only is that graphic ridiculously funny, it also has more than a grain of truth to it too. It’s amazing how a simple request for help or advice can lead to, as JD from Semi-Delicate Balance put it, “crazy drama.”
Now, I’m not saying that we don’t field some outlandish calls for advice in the military spouse community like…
Is okay for me to get a little love on the side while my spouse is deployed?
Can I own a bazooka/raccoon/have an orgy while living in base housing?
<insert any question you can just Google yourself>
Now, I know these types of requests make some of us see red immediately. Some of us are ready to, and I quote, “tell people like it is,” but a best practice in the area of advice is that if the request immediately pisses you off somethin’ fierce, just walk away and don’t engage. You don’t need evidence of you losing your cool with someone online. Whatever you put out on the internet definitely stays on the internet forever. FOR-E-VER.
Here’s a few other smarty and savvy advice-giving rules for military spouses:
Advice on Giving Advice
It’s all in the delivery.
No matter how outrageous the request or how stupid or ignorant the question, I guarantee you that the person asking is not asking with the intent or desire to be condescended to or attacked. Give the asker the benefit of the doubt and ONLY give advice if you feel you can provide constructive feedback and useful resources.
Nobody likes advice with a side of judgement.
You know, if you need help, it take a little bit of humility to open yourself up to feedback, especially online and even more so in some of these online groups and forums. Ultimately, everyone asking for advice is ignorant to some degree. That’s why they’re asking for help or advice, right?
Let’s take a question like this:
Hey! I just had a new baby and I’m feeling really guilty about neglecting my dog. I hardly have time to walk him or play with him like I used to. I feel like the best thing for him is to find him a new home. Is anyone interested in adopting my pet?
Now let’s look at some responses:
YOU should’ve known what you were getting yourself into! No self respecting pet owner would ever CONSIDER getting rid of their pet! Shame on you! You need to figure this out and I hope you never own another pet again.
DISGUSTING. You should be ashamed at yourself.
I remember how overwhelming it feels when you have a new baby and a pet. I know it feels crazy right now, but before you give up your pet you might want to give it a little longer. Maybe you and your spouse or a friend of yours could help you by taking your dog for a walk each day?
I think we all know which of these answers is the most appropriate and helpful regardless of where your personal opinion falls on the topic.
Serve up your advice and back away.
I came across this quote when trying to remember something my father always said about opinions and advice. I’m pretty sure it’s something about them being like buttholes and everyone having them, but I thought that this one was better, I think you will too:
Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
You cannot force someone to take your advice no matter how many times they ask for it. If you give advice, consider it a gift and let them marinate on it. They might not take your advice immediately or ever, but, hey, it’s the thought that counts and that’s what matters.