So, I’m learning that civilian people say odd things when they know your spouse is deployed.
I very often get the sympathetic head tilt accompanied by “So, how’re you doing?” with a facial expression that says “it’s okay to cry.”
I halfway want to reply with the “I’m okay Head Bob” but usually simply say, “Umm, I’m fine” and just change the subject. I haven’t just come from a funeral, divorce, or learning I have terminal cancer. Can we please lighten up?
My latest favorite is my neighbor’s reply (and other variations of this). Talking of his being overseas, separated from me, “Oh isn’t it just terrible?”
Okay, how am I supposed to reply to this one? “No, it’s not terrible. I love having him gone. I dance myself to sleep every night in celebration” Or “Yes, it’s terrible and I blame the evil military for taking him away from me without me knowing that it’s his job or anything.” I usually reply that it is, in fact, his job to go overseas and we expect and prepare for this. Both our “sacrifices” are part of being in the military.
Please be kind to your friends with deployed spouses. Ask them what they’re doing while he’s gone. Anything interesting? You can ask them how his or her spouse is doing over there. Maybe they’ll have a lot to say or maybe not.
The main idea is to be open. Please do not assume everyone feels as you would. Military spouses have more preparation. They know their spouse will be deployed. It’s not a surprise (usually). It comes with the job. I prefer to be proud of his service and while it may not be the most awesome thing to be separated from your favorite person in the world, I love that he is dedicated, skilled, a wicked-good pilot, and does his job well wherever he is in the world.
One of the nicest things you can do is thank the spouse of a deployed military member for serving as if you were thanking their spouse.