What Not to Say
What not to say to a friend with a deployed spouse
I tried to find a link to this article in a newspaper, but no luck. Basically, Kelly Wright, lists some well-meaning but insensitive phrases she heard while her husband was deployed. At the end, she goes into NICE things to say--basically, invite spouses of deployed soldiers to SPECIFIC events, rather than a vague offer to come over sometime. I didn't copy that portion, but you can google the title to see the whole article.
Her words are italicized in blue and any comments I have are in black...feel free to add to the list and share your thoughts.
"I know how you feel. My husband has been away on a business trip for two weeks." (If your husband's job includes being shot at, traveling routinely over holidays and phone calls home limited to 10 minutes per week and you track his daily whereabouts on the nightly news, then you're right. I imagine you have an inkling of how I feel.)
Actually, this one doesn't bother me. I miss my husband when he's away. Whether it is for a weekend, a month, or a year. I've never had anyone claim to "know how I feel" (that does perhaps cross the line over to insensitive) but I have had friends sigh and complain about their spouse on a business trip. Usually they realize pretty quickly how silly they sound complaining to me, but I just tell them they shouldn't feel bad about missing their spouse!
"This must be so hard for you." (Actually, it is. But I'd rather eat a warm mayonnaise sandwich on a hot summer day than continually recap the hardships of our separation.)
I never know how to answer this one. Anyone have some good (polite) responses? I actually get this one and the opposite a lot: "Well, he is not doing anything dangerous, right?" I do not want people's pity but at the same time I do not think it is my job to reassure everyone else that it is sunshine and skittles over there. Let's just change the subject, okay?
"What will you do while he's gone?" (I don't know. Sit on the couch all day and cry?)
"When your husband gets home, how long will he be able to stay until he has to leave again?" (I love that question. I don't even know within three weeks when he's coming back or where we'll be living four months from now. Could you let us look forward to some time together before you have him shipping out again?)
"Don't worry, he'll be home soon." (OK, if you say so. By the way, what's your definition of soon?)
"Well, you both signed up for this." (What a compassionate way to state the obvious. Yes, we did indeed sign up for life in the Army, but I'm afraid "this" was not exactly in the fine print.)
Heh. I got this from the Superintendent while DH was training and I asked to take my second personal day (not just of the year, but of the entire three years I was working there) to see DH for the first time in months. The school district started a policy that year that they had the right to deny a request for a second leave day if both fell on the day immediately before or after a break. The goal was to stop teachers from using personal days to extend vacations. Not that there is any policy to stop students from doing this. Anyway, I explained that these were not days of my choosing, but rather that one was the only day I was guaranteed to see DH during OCS and the other was a wedding I was in and my first opportunity to see DH since OCS graduation.
My response was, "Yes, my husband did choose to serve our country and I do choose to support him. Given that I have taken two sick days in three years and only one other personal day, I was hoping you might see fit to grant my request." He did, but what a dork. This is also the dolt who the letter denying my leave of absence request becauseially beause I am a military spouse. He is so lucky I did not leak that one to the press.
Anyway...please add some of your own in the comments!