My mom and her partner were visiting last weekend (hi mom!), and I had an interesting discussion with them and my manpartner. I feel very blessed that they support me being with this military man, but it was a bit shocking to hear how much they supported the function of a military partnership. I have always felt that, while I support my manfriend, I owe nothing to the military, and they owe nothing to me. That’s what I believe is the benefit of not being married. If the military feels no obligation towards non-married partners, then why should we have any obligation towards them?
My man thing says that I am still a reflection on him because he associates with me. You know who else he “associates” with? The crowd at a Sublime with Rome concert, i.e. a bunch of drunk pot-smoking hippies. And he listens to 103.1 The Buzz, a radio station in South Florida that holds an annual Bake Sale concert, another magnet for drunk pot-smoking hippies. (and THAT’S brought to you by the Marines.) He certainly hasn’t been reprimanded for associating with such a culture, so what does it matter if I act like a drunk pot-smoking hippie? Has it reflected on his career that I march in parades in crazy outfits with a bevy of baton twirling beauties called Turnin’ TriXXX? The answer is no.
To take it one step further, since I’m still a civilian, am I not allowed to exercise my right to protest? And simply as a citizen of this country, is it not my right to voice my opinion? Why should my opinion and word reflect on him? Shouldn’t his career be dependent on his own merit? It wouldn’t be that way if he worked for a civilian business. Sure, a military job isn’t the same as a civilian job, but if the military is supposed to be the best of the best of the fucking best, then why should their careers be influenced by civilians and their opinions? What does it matter? If my partner and his boss really like pasta alfredo, and I really don’t like it, why should that affect his promotion?
A silly example maybe, but that’s really how I feel about it. My opinion about a war, international relations, or a battalion ball does not reflect on my partner’s ability to be a great soldier. My manfriend and I have differing opinions on a lot of things, but I think that’s what makes us an awesome, super kick-ass couple. I was throwing a fit about this battalion ball coming up because it sounds sad and lame, and he said that, if we were married, and I joined some planning committee, that I could plan the ball however I wanted. Really? Does anyone truly believe that the military would let me plan a battalion ball the way I want it planned? Of course not. They have their rules and regulations, which do not include a required theme for a battalion ball. No theme = sad, lame dance.
I recently finished the book Uncle Sam’s Brides, which was written by two military wives in 1990. For my project it was great because it has all the information I need for hard data on certain claims (i.e. that military families live on food stamps). The only problem is that it was written 20 years ago. If anyone knows anyone who is working on a research paper, thesis, or study regarding lesser-known facts about military families I’d really appreciate it. I know there’s a lot of information about the suicide rates in the military, and while it’s a significantly larger problem than many give it credit, it is a more well-known fact.
Ultimately, I want to see more done on the matter of what it means to be a partner of someone in the military, i.e. I want to see more people write books about it. I read people’s stories on LeftFace, I read all kinds of articles via Google Alerts (too many to link), I talk to family and friends who are/have been military spouses, and it certainly hasn’t convinced me that marrying into the military lifestyle is right for me.
I feel Uncle Sam’s Brides was a great, comprehensive look at what milspouse life was like in 1990. If I can hopefully get started on my project soon, then maybe my book will be the next body of work that will bridge the gap between civilians and military, and maybe I’ll be able to answer my own questions about what military life means to me.