Things NOT to say to a military wife.

My sister is a military wife who sent this to me. I just had to share it.

*Please note that the word sex will be used in this post though it is not being used in a derogatory way.*

1. “Aren’t you afraid that he’ll be killed?”
(This one ranks in at number one on the “duh” list. Of course we’re afraid. We’re terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds —but thanks brilliant, 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.”
(This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here’s why: 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 and in the shower. We’re not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.)

3. “At least he’s not in Iraq.”
(This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.)

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, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.)

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 they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.)

7. “This deployment shouldn’t be so bad, now that you’re used to it.”
(Sure, we do learn coping skills and its true the more deployments you’ve gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. 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 12-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time 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 it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a shitty ford taurus with mercedes convertible.)

9. “Wow you must miss him?”
(This one also gets antoher big “duh”. Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they’re now divorced.)

10. “Where is he exactly? 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 seven years and at war in Iraq for five years. These basic facts are not secrets, they’re on the news every night and in the papers every day —and on maps everywhere.)

11. “Well, he signed up for it, so it’s his own fault whatever happens over there.
(Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn’t sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that “You’re welcome.” He’s still fighting for your freedom.)

12. “Don’t you miss sex! I couldn’t do it!”
(hmmm, no i don’t miss sex. i’m a robot. seriously…military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most relationships probably couldn’t withstand 12 months of sex deprivation.)

13. “Well in my opinion…..”
(Stop right there. Yo, I didn’t ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a restaurant when I’m out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our asses off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President, esp. while we’re trying to heat up our lean cuisines in the crappy office microwaves.)

last but not least….

14. “OH, that’s horrible…I’m so sorry!”
(He’s doing his job and he’s tough. Don’t be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our soldiers fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad.)

If you want to say anything, say thank you. After all, we are sexually deprived for your freedom


45 responses to “Things NOT to say to a military wife.

  1. As a previous military wife, I truly understand this list and can relate~ my cousin called me and said that she “totally knew how I felt, because her husband went out of town (to a safe city) for a week and she didn’t know what to do without him, so she went to her mom’s house” (5 miles away) Meanwhile I just gave birth to my 2nd child while Hubby was deployed and was on an island away for ALL family…yeah I can see how she TOTALLY knew how I felt, it was just like that…

    Anyways~ I just wanted to say thank you for posting this, because there are so many people that just don’t get it.

  2. Thank you, for sharing your story. Thank you, to your sister’s husband for doing what he does so I can raise my child the way I want. Thanks to the soldiers for everything.

    I have a few friends of friends that are deployed, where I’m not sure because, like I said, friends of friends, but I know one just got married the week before he was deployed so this has to be hard on the wives.

  3. The one I get most often is the, “I couldn’t do it! I don’t know how you do!” It annoys me because it’s not like I’m supermom, I’m just proud of my husband and he’s worth it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!


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  5. I am a milwife. I often got weird statements and questions such as these when my husband deployed. What’s worse is he’s NG and this is not military country here. There’s not a base or post around for many many miles.

    I think the worst thing is when people feel compelled to give their political opinions on the war and how wrong they feel it is. While my husband laid his life on the line for all Americans to have freedom of speech, a little courtesy goes a long way. If you can’t say something nice, just shut up.

  6. Or how about, “has your husband killed anyone yet?” He’s gotten that asked more than me…but you’d be surprised!

    • Absolutely! Well put. I wish a lot of people would stop running their mouths and spouting off their ill-informed opinions. For instance, my husband is in Afghanistan, currently living out of a truck, and I find it annoying when people say things like, “Why does he wait a whole week to call you?” Probably the same reason he has to wait a week to take a shower, dumbass! He’s not at a FOB with internet access and cold beer like some of the national guard units!

  7. I second the “Has your husband killed anyone yet?” comment!!! Awful! Plus, he’s a combat medic, so he wasn’t there to kill people. My mom makes comments like these even when DH is in the field for 12+ weeks. Grrrr…. 🙂 I do find that answering more kindly diffuses my wrath, however. I’d love to be able to snark at some of the questioners, but it’s better just to grin and answer gently.


    • Mary, you are in my mind! If that person’s loved one has in fact killed someone, why would you want to bring it up!? I also am a combat medic and get those kind of questions. There were times when I wanted to cause harm to the guy that just blew up the 10 year old I was working on, but as a medic, you have to put that aside. I also agree that if you just keep your temper under control and stay neutral, if not pleasant, you can exact your revenge by projecting calm and them getting all worked up and (hopefully) ruining their own day! LOL

  8. your husband’s are not fighting for MY rights. I’ll say whatever I please.

    Edited by Rhen- I approved this comment so we can all pray for this person.

    • Feel free to fight the war against terror by yourself in multiple countries then. You should thank them for keeping you safe and allowing you to be free…including the freedom to post uneducated and thoughtless remarks about the military

  9. So if these are all things NOT to say, what would you like to hear from a friend who wants to give sympathy to a military wife?? It is obvious that some of the comments are just not appropriate, but I feel that some things are said purely out of sympathy for the spouse that is left at home.

    Edited by Rhen~ I am the sister of a military wife and the daughter of 3 military parents. If I wanted to address the spouse of someone serving in our military I would tell them, “Thank you for your dedication and support of your husband/ wife. You make it possible for them to keep our country safe and strong.” Just a thought.

  10. Just read your comments.
    Yes i am now beginning to understand!
    My husband is about to go to afghanistan.
    I am terrified! But trying to be calm and not show it to him so he does not have to worry about me when he’s gone.
    Not easy though.

  11. I live in a big military town so these are helpful. But I must ask… what SHOULD we say?

    Edited by Rhen~ I emailed you!

  12. to the angryguy comment who said our husbands arent fighting for our rights yes but these brave men are fighting to PRESERVE your rights and freedom of speech and to keep our country safer and you should respect that! God bless our troops!!

    • Good answer, Janelle. My son is in the Air Force for 15 yrs. He’s been to Bosnia, Afghanistan and other not so well known places; preserving angryguys right to make those type of ignorant comments. Thank you to all who have served and their families! We ALL owe them a huge debt.

  13. My son and daughter in law enlisted in the military shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq. When others found out, I always appreciated being told they would pray for their safety.

  14. Thank you so much for your post. My husband and I are surviving our first deployment. We married in June, he left for training in Sept., Iraq in March. I got a real kick out of your post. I get lost in frustration when people ask me these questions, especially “OMG, how are you going to make it through the next year and a half.” My favorite answer is get up every morning, breathe everyday, try to stay occupied and pray every night. I know that people try to be sympathetic. I understand that many are curious, but please know your boundries. If you are a close friend you may ask me how I’m doing or how you can help, how do I feel. If not I agree, “Thank you” is sufficient and goes along way. If you want to go out of your way ask how to contact an FRG and see if you can donate your time there.

  15. My favorite is…how could you marry him knowing that he was leaving??

    We got married two days b4 he went for some of his training. Since we have been married we have spent less than five days together. When people hear me say that they are always like “oh that must be hard do you get any phone calls or anything” and “oh did you get married because you got pregnant??? I’m sure he wants somebody to pass on his name if something happens to him”

    What has gotten into these peoples heads to think that every military man/woman is a “killer” or “evil” i wish we could take their husbands away for six months just to see how they would react its amazing sometimes.

  16. These are absolutely great! I hate when my friends complain about their significant others being gone for a week. They complain that they want sex! Hello! How long do you think I’ve gone without it? I don’t pretend to know the fear of a deployment because we haven’t survived that yet. But the day the Marines called (he’s in the Navy, corpsman) I knew my whole life was gonna change. Keep going strong milspouses! We are the sisterhood that stands behind our men!

  17. I came by to read other posts (I’m subscribed) and I happened to see this on the sidebar. My husband just retired last year after 20 years of military service. I appreciate this post so much.

    One of the things that bothered me in all his time of service was right before he would deploy, his parents would come to visit. They wouldn’t come to visit the grandchildren or us any other time, just before his deployments “in case something happened” while he was gone. Still bothers me to this day and I’m trying to get over it and forgive. I can freely say this here because I know they will never find the comment. It’s not something I could say over on my own blog.

    My husband used to have people come up to him in the airport when he would travel stateside for military duty in uniform and thank him. We have also found since he has retired and people ask us what brought us to Michigan, that when we say he retired from the military and this is where he found a job, people are specific to thank him for serving his country. It’s pretty amazing.

    Thanks again for the post.

  18. i was a military daughter,my dad retired 2 years ago. I watched my mom go through my dads deployment. It’s not easy on the family. Im also praying my dad doesn’t get reenlisted as some mil spouses have said he can volunteer,but that would leave me home with a 15 year old brother. My mom passed in 06 .So please no bashing he’s my only parent left, and the only family besides my hubby and babies and brother. Thank you to those who do go through it everyday.

  19. This made me laugh, because eventhough i been a USMC wife for less than a month i’ve gotten most of those commnets already.. and every single one is soo annoying.

    LOVED The Article.

  20. my husband is away at training, soon to deploy to afghanistan. The comment that drives me nuts is blah blah blah, “so maybe he won’t have to go”.

    i also hate when die-hard republicans say to me that it makes them sick that my husband is being deployed.

    i need some not too rude comebacks for everything on your list which i’ve heard as well.

  21. So, what can you say?

  22. Hum. that was harsh. I realize that we don’t know how it feels and all these things are true. But, realize that (like death) it’s an uncomfortable topic and no words are ever “right.” People are only trying to show loving support by asking “how” you feel. Saying I’m proud of your husband and YOU may ,,,be the right words to ALWAYS say But, … See Moreunless we are told and we understand your feelings/fears etc. maybe the right words don’t come so easily. We are TRYING to say and do the right thing. Sorry if it’s offensive!!! But being so ugly about it doesn’t make anyone want to support her.

    • Why is saying “Thank you” so hard to come up with.

      Asking how someone feels is never really a sincere question unless you are their best friend or very close family member. There are NO WORDS we could ever say to express how we feel. If you thought about it first…and asked yourself “do i really want to know how she feels?” “what will i say or do if she actually takes the time to describe how she is feeling?” I think you would realize that when you ask, you don’t really want the answer. You ask because you don’t know what to say. Which goes back to if you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything.

      Hopefully in reading this page….saying Thank you will be on the tip of your tongue 😉

  23. Thank you for a very insightful post. We all need to see this. I might even link you so my readers can see it too if it is ok with you. Let me know. I would be happy to send others over to read this.

  24. I get from girls … “the money must be good though”. I just laugh like loosing my husband and being alone with 2 bbys to raise is so worth his pay. UH I DONT THINK SO!!!!!

  25. Thank you for writing this. I would like to add that there are military husbands out there as well as dual military families. One year one will be deployed and the next the other… My husband and I are dual military. No, we did not get married for the money. We met while in the same unit and have been together ever since.

    For those non-military people who want to know what they can do or say, just ask. When someone you know has a spouse deployed/deploying, let them know you are there for them if they need an ear or shoulder or shuttle service. When s/he says thier loved one is leaving or gone you can say “Okay, you know I love you and want to be there for you. Just let me know.” And that’s it! Easy peasy!

  26. All I can think to say is, “Thank you”.

  27. I never comment on things on the internet but that was just so true. I am a new military wife but I have heard every single one of those comments already, it is truely wierd to know that you aren’t the only one. It doesnt seem like anyone can really understand and/or appreciate this lifestyle and its sacrifices until they are in it themselves. The ” I couldnt do it” or sex comments really bug me. What can you really do besides support and stand by them? There isnt exactly a point where you decide whether or not to stand by them. Thanks for posting this

  28. As my husband was getting ready to leave on his 5th combat deployment, one of my sisters-in-law said to me, “I don’t know about you but I am getting sick of having to say goodbye to Tom.”. …Oh my heck!!!!

    And my father-in-law wrote to my husband (on a 400 day deployment to Afghanistan) “we are not trying to cause you more stress *but* we are family with the same feelings and concerns and we deserve blah, blah, blah…” I couldn’t let that one go. I emailed him back and let him know I was pretty sure if the worst happened that he wouldn’t be a widow with 3 children to raise.

    If you want to support the family of a deployed service person, gratitude and prayers are always appreciated.

  29. My husband is currently in Kuwait, waiting to go to Iraq. The two I get the most often and the two I hate the most are “I couldn’t do it” and “at least he’s not going to Afghanistan.” Yes, Iraq is more stable now than it was when we first invaded it, but it is still dangerous! Read the news people. There is still a lot of insurgent activity in Iraq. Car bombs, roadside bombs, shootings, kidnappings…still happening every day!
    I won’t even get into the whole “I couldn’t do it” thing. I could go on for days. All I’m going to say is that I love my husband with every ounce of life in me and I can’t even begin to describe how deep my pride in him goes. When I married him it was “for better or for WORSE…until death do us part.” Not just when it’s convenient and not until war do us part. If you disagree then you’re saying you wouldn’t honor your vows? You would leave him? Beg him to run away and face federal prison? Literally go insane? Sometimes it feels like we might go a little crazy, but we take it a day at a time and we pray, and we dream of homecoming and of how sweet that first hug and first kiss will be when we are finally reunited. It’s a hard life, but it’s our life. We can’t just run away from it and even if we could we wouldn’t. My husband loves his job and when there’s work to be done, he gets it done. I ‘m proud of him and I support him 110%.

    If you feel the need to say anything just say thank you or your proud of him and of us for supporting him. Say you’re praying for him or ask if there is anything you can do like send packages to his platoon or gather letters/ post cards from friends, family, co-workers to send them. Knowing they are supported at home keeps them going. There is so much negativity surrounding war. They need to hear that they are truly appreciated.

  30. Pingback: Seven Days In « Mothering Off the Cuff

  31. First thank you to all of those who are serving overseas and putting their live in danger for those of us back in the US. Thank you to the families at home making the sacrifices to make it possible for their loved ones to be able to make that committment for all of us.

    I have several family members and friends who are or have been in Afghanistan and will be going so while I do not know how it feels to have a child or spouse serving I can appreciate all the things those who do go through. It is hard and I know it takes commitment to do it. So again thank you…and I loved this entry. It brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh.

  32. I have been with my boyfriend going on 4 years now, and we are currently within 54 days of him coming home. (Thank you Jesus!) This is our first deployment and I can honestly say unless you live this life you have absolutely nothing to compare it too. The two worst things I am ever ask is “Don’t you miss him?” HEEELLLLLLLLO big red truck! Of course I miss him with ever fiber of my being! I have anxiety attacks thinking about him being deployed. And the second thing my close friends always say “I could never do it, I need to be with him too much.” Seriously! Seriously? I know they’re trying to be supportive and I really do appreciate it. But do you honestly think I don’t NEED to see my man, I don’t NEED to know he’s safe, or how about about I don’t NEED to share my life with him just as much as you and your man??? You learn very quickly this is a day to day life and to NEVER EVER NEVER take the small things for granted! I am so proud of my Corpsman and I am so proud of all the military spouses and girlfriends! We may not be deployed in Afghanistan but we are on our own “deployment” at home. Our job is to always keep it together for our military people and above all else be as supportive as humanly possible!

  33. I am still laughing and smirking.. Mom of 5 boys and Married to my Best friend for twenty years.. 19 of them U.S. Army..
    While the Army has always been good to us.. I loved your list. Thank you so much for sharing!

  34. A friend of mine shared this in the news feed of FB. I immediately understood both the message and it’s cheeky tone, and appreciated both. I’m a 17 year Navy Wife, Mom of 3, grandmother of 2.

    I do believe, or should say want to believe, that for the most part people generally have good intentions when they say the things that they do. While yes it does grow bothersome and depending on the context can be insulting, I often just shrug it off, smile, and take it for what it’s worth. I don’t think people mean any malicious intent. It is a difficult subject to discuss, and no doubt people who don’t live the life have curious questions as well as sympathetic sentiment.

  35. I’m going to print this off and give this to my IN-LAWS.

  36. I am a military wife and I found this to be true and amusing! My husband thought this was rude. Lol men 😛
    I wonder what military men hear while they are deployed about their wives?

  37. Had a friend of almost 9 years tell me ” I bet you can’t wait to get back to the hotel room”. Actually I wanted to see his face when he saw our daughter for the first time in 6 months. I wanted to look into his eyes and hear his voice in person rather than on a computer. Seriously if you are trying to be funny, don’t. It not a joke to the spouses who are excited for all the little things civilians take for granted.

  38. I don’t have any family in the military, so I appreciate this list and hopefully it will keep me from looking like an ass in the future. However, equally helpful would be a list of things one SHOULD say. While some of the things on this list I would never say, I would probably say #2 and #6.

  39. I think my favorite is that when your DH is Guard. They just assume that the NG has things “so much better over there” than “regular Army.” Really, dude?

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