Watch what you say

In the months that my husband has been deployed, people have said some pretty dumb/hurtful/idiotic things to me. I know that most of the time, they say these things because they don’t know what else to say; they don’t mean to be dumb/hurtful/idiotic.

Dumb/hurtful/idiotic things people have actually said to me: 

Tell your husband that he shouldn’t go to xx location. I thought that everyone knew this, but soldiers don’t really get to choose where they go. This person was specifically talking about where my husband should not go within Afghanistan. It’s not vacation, it’s war, so there isn’t a lot of choice involved.

Well, you knew it’d be hard when you signed up for this. True, we did know it would be hard, but any job comes with yucky parts that the person probably already knew about. (Doctors know they’ll work long hours, teachers know they’ll have parents who are hard to deal with, politicians know that they’ll be made fun of on late night comedy shows.) Does that means that people deserve for things to be difficult? Does it mean that they can’t complain when times are really tough? We knew it would be hard, but we also know that it will be worth it in the end. That doesn’t magically make it easy.

I’m glad my husband didn’t join the Army. I’m pretty sure this person why trying to say that being in the military is hard, but to my ears it sounded like bragging. As in, “All my family members are safe and sound while you worry endlessly about the safety of your husband who is currently in a craphole. Haha.” This is one of those things that it’s okay to think, but you probably shouldn’t say it out loud.

It was really hard when my cousin was deployed. I know that people say this because it’s their way of relating, but cousin/nephew/neighbor does not equal husband. (Unless you saw that person on a daily basis, you shared finances, they helped take care of your dog, made you dinner, and slept with you. Then it’s the same.) I’d love to hear about their service and their experience. I just don’t want you to compare how much you missed that person to how much I miss my husband. Besides, what would the point of that be?

I know that it can be really hard to find the right words to say to someone who has a deployed loved one. (I have trouble finding the right words to say when there are happy occasions – I’m just that awkward!) Truthfully, you don’t have to say much. Things people have said that are just right:

  • I’m thinking/praying for you/your husband.
  • I’m thankful for your service.
  • I know this is hard./I can’t imagine how hard this is.
  • How is your husband doing?

I love talking about my husband, so I welcome any excuse to do it! It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to say something short and sweet. It’s just nice to know that people care.

I’m stepping off my complainy box (like a soap box, but mostly for complaining). Please tell me something dumb/hurtful/idiotic someone has said to you. How do you handle it? I don’t say anything to the person, then I go write a blog post about it. That usually helps.*