It happens time and time again in the military world. A spouse uses a public forum to ask for help or vent about military life and they are met with sarcasm, cyberbullying, and very little kindness and compassion. Some people might think, “Why go on a public forum with anything?” Before you are quick to judge, just know that an online group may be the only place that spouse has to find others who can empathize with what he or she is going through. Who better to understand military life and the challenges we face than other military spouses?
Covid has caused much isolation and loneliness to the world and even more so to the military community. The stressors we deal with and the outlets we once had are completely different now and mostly virtual. What does it say about us as a military spouse community when we see others judging and belittling someone else online who is going through a hardship that maybe we don’t view as one?
It says that we need less judgment and more understanding. We need more kindness and “I have been there’s” rather than “at least” this and “at least” that. There is no at least when you are offering someone real understanding and empathy. If you don’t believe me, look it up. There’s a whole educational piece from Brene’ Brown about Empathy versus Sympathy and it is a powerful way to learn the importance of leaning more into compassion and empathy when dealing with others.
So, back to our thresholds in life. Let’s look at it a little deeper with some military life examples.
- Have you noticed how some military spouses have 3, 4, 5, & 6 kids while others only have 1 or 2? What can we say about that? As a mom to a one and only child, I look at that mom with 6 children and say that her patience and threshold must be completely different than mine and I admire her for it.
- Most military spouses love the travel that comes along with military life and enjoy embracing a new location. Meanwhile it’s an utter struggle, completely devastating, and isolating for others to be so far away from a village and family. Our thresholds are different and what we can handle alone varies too.
- Some military spouses make deployments look like a piece of cake, while others crumble because Murphy’s Law decided to pay one too many visits to their home.
My point in all of this is, we need to stop making other military spouses feel like what they’re going through is not important or of value. Once again, we all have different thresholds and we are all at different places and phases of military life. You cannot possibly know that through virtual communication, without truly knowing a person or their story.
What one person can juggle and handle in this life is different than another. We all reach our breaking point at various levels of stress. The lessons in all of this are: be kind, offer empathy, and never judge someone’s hard. Refrain from using the words at least as they serve no purpose but to undermine what a person is feeling and going through, it’s called emotional invalidation. Instead of trying to solve someone’s problems, say “How can I help?” Or, how about inviting another military spouse out sometime, arrange a playdate for your children, connect that spouse to a local resource that could help him or her through the situation, or send a Starbucks card to that spouse’s email?
Humanity is so close to breaking during these tough times our world has seen over the last few years. Please remember that everyone’s threshold is different.
Be the one that offers the compassion a military spouse needs instead of judging his or her hard. We are all just trying to do our best in this chaos we call military life.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2022.