You know, after that terribly long column enumerating traits of a military spouse, I started thinking about the next hurdle. Did I give you enough information to move forward? Are you ready to take your place next to your block leader and dive right in to company politics? I’m going to suppose you’ve weighed your options, spent serious time in contemplation and determined the wedding’s still on, so give yourself a moment to smile, take a deep breath and move forward. You’ve got work to do – literally.
If you’re like most military spouses, the wedding will put stars in your eyes (it’s the uniforms) and a few days later, you’ll find yourself waking up in WWII era housing wondering what happened to room service. You’re going to spend a fortune trying to make a home of those four dilapidated walls so there’s only one thing to do – go job hunting. And I pray you’ll enjoy it because you’ll do it over and over and over and over – each time you transfer. Don’t fret. You’ll get good at it. Keep your resume updated and sally forth!
Next step, make friends with other spouses. Most are very nice, concerned about the same things you are, BUT, with great sorrow I must warn you, there are troublemakers in the mix. And they can appear sincerely friendly, so it’s easy to be taken in by their smile and pleasant attitude. It’s kind of like going swimming in shark infested waters – feet first, first time. Go slowly. Share no heartfelt confessions, make no plans to meet for a drink, give away nothing but a smile, a ‘how are you’, and ‘hope to see you soon’. Covertly study your new acquaintances with a discerning eye. Be alert to arched brows, pursed lips, a smile that doesn’t make it all the way to the eyes, characteristics of satan’s little helpers.
Now you might wonder why on earth would anyone wish to make trouble in your little military corner of the world. Why would someone like this even be in the mix. Well, darlin’, the devil is busy and he thrives where he can find even the most minute bit of unhappiness and sometimes there’s a lot of that near a military installation. And there really are people who just like to cause trouble. No one around them is allowed to be happy. So, learn how to recognize the signs. Don’t let yourself be caught up in their webs.
Much of this is going to sound juvenile, totally absurd. Don’t doubt me. You’ll find yourself in hot water with your spouse and unwelcome at the next soiree all because some dimwit took your innocent remark and knowingly stretched it – until it snapped – out of shape. Or there was some rearranging of details you unwittingly shared about, possibly about your hostess – who is probably the wife of your husband’s commanding officer. You’ve gotta stay sharp. Gossip runs through a spouse’s group like water through a sieve.
When the troublemaker scores a point against you, and she will, stand your ground with a smile on your face and steel in your spine. Shake your head in disbelief at your accuser and say ‘well, at least I’m not the topic of dull conversation, even if it is lies’. Remain calm and say nothing more. You’ll notice furtive glances sliding around the room to land on the evil deed doer. Turn slowly toward your Benedict Arnold. Look not in her direction, but directly into her eyes. Don’t flinch, don’t smile and most certainly do not sweat. Watch her face warm up. She’s not accustomed to being called out in front of witnesses. Allow yourself a tiny smirk as she slinks into another room. You’ll have no more trouble from her and, in all probability, others like her will follow her out the door. They’re known to congregate around the weaker members of the group.
Now, you’ve gained the respect of your peers, rid yourself of your enemy and made your spouse proud all in less time than it takes to spit shine a boot! Enjoy your gathering, and the camaraderie of women with concerns similar to yours. Oh, and don’t forget to update that resume!