This is becoming an increasingly more and more common phrase I’m seeing and hearing uttered to military spouses these days. It’s usually in response to the spouse having a complaint of some sort. I understand being frustrated by the spouse who perpetually complains. There are good points to military life, just like any other path in life a person may choose. People have ups and downs. It’s perfectly normal that when there’s a down, a person needs to vent.
I wouldn’t tell a fellow autism parent (or any special needs parent) on a bad day, “Well, you knew what you were getting into by having a child.”
I wouldn’t tell another service worker (doctor, police, fire, EMT, etc.), “You knew what you signed up for.”
I wouldn’t tell the married couple who’s divorcing for whatever reason, “Well, You should’ve seen this coming by getting married.”
I wouldn’t tell the woman with breast cancer, “Well, you knew what would happen having breasts and all.”
I wouldn’t tell a man with testicular cancer, “Well, you knew what would happen having testicals.”
I think you get the point. Honestly, for those of us who have been married past the 11 year mark, we didn’t know. We had an idea, but unless you’re a spouse who was around for WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, I don’t think you truly had an understanding of what the current climate and OPTEMPO was going to entail.
This is especially true of our Guard families. Our Guard soldiers haven’t been deployed this much since WWII. I can tell you from experience that many Guard spouses think their husbands just go off and “play Army” one weekend a month, and that was it. It was extra income, their husband was off doing something he thought was fun, and that was that. Then shit got real. Very real. Families didn’t know how to cope. Families still don’t know how to cope as soldiers come home different people whether their wounds are visible or not.
So please, let’s all be a little kinder to each other. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt that it’s a bad day/week/month, whatever, but it’s temporary. If you see a spouse that perpetually complains, say something – privately. Ask them if they’re OK. Just maybe all of that complaining is a cry for help. Help that many of us find so very hard to come right out and ask for. Your compassion could be the difference in that person’s whole week for all you know.