Navy Wives

I’d like to preface the following with the important fact that most of the Navy wives I have met here are damn cool ladies. They are smart and funny and independent and generally awesome people. They are women I would want to be friends with, whether or not our husbands shared an occupation, and for that I am very grateful.

That said, what’s the deal with some of these other Navy wives? Have I somehow stumbled into a Lifetime original series?

Gee

On the one hand, it can be comforting to talk to women who know exactly what you are going through– excruciatingly long deployments, bureaucratic red tape, ridiculous difficulty planning anything further than two weeks in advance. On the other hand, that can’t be all we have to talk about.

I’ve been a little unsettled by the Navy wives I’ve met here who don’t seem to have an identity outside of being a Navy wife. Instead of asking what I do for a living or what my interests are, they ask what my husband does on the ship and where we have been stationed in the past. They sign emails “Have a great Navy day!” and drop acronyms I don’t understand into normal conversation. They form hierarchies based on the rank of their husbands instead of on any merits of their own. I kind of want to shake them and scream, “We are not in the Navy!” If Brian talked this much to his friends about my job, I would be seriously concerned about him.

Honestly, I find it a little insulting. The Navy may play a large role in my life right now, whether I like it or not, but it is not actually my life. I do not work on a ship; therefore, I find talking incessantly about what happens on a ship strange and annoying. Bottom line: I don’t really care what your husband does; I want to know who you are. What do you like to do? What do we have in common? I was a complete person before I married into this role, and I plan to remain that way. I have a job, I have hobbies, I have dreams… and believe it or not, all these things are not wrapped up in my “hubby’s” job (related note: the word “hubby” makes my skin crawl; don’t do it).

It’s funny because the possibility that I might someday become a Navy wife has been a running joke with our friends since Brian and I started dating back in college. Haha, the barefoot NorCal feminist is going to have to learn to be a proper lady and not say outlandish things at dinner with the admiral. Kind of like “Pretty Woman,” except for the minor detail that I am not a hooker.

We all joked about the Navy wife stereotype, but I didn’t actually expect it to be true in real life. I don’t know how to cope with it aside from what I’m already doing: bitching/laughing about it, hanging out with people I like and avoiding the others like the plague. Other suggestions are welcome.

11 comments

1 Lisa { 08.13.09 at 12:05 pm }

Shivving would be appropriate.

Military wives can be fun … for me to poop on. :) Nah, I have my military wife friends, but they aren’t annoying as shit like that. Plus, even the Army Wives lifetime show is about the wimmins having their own lives.

Not that I watch that. Or anything. OK? FINE, JUDGE ME.

2 Gillian { 08.13.09 at 1:04 pm }

JUDGING! “Army Wives”? Really?

I think maybe it’s a generational difference because the wives I’ve met who are around our age are totally awesome. Maybe it’s people who are stuck in that old-school mentality of “I am Mrs. Brian Burgess” or whatever.

3 Brian { 08.13.09 at 6:52 pm }

Dear Mrs. Brian Burgess,

I was just discussing your elevated position at your job and how it makes me superior to my counterparts here on the ship.

Have a great Youth Noise day,

Mr. Brian Burgess

4 Gillian { 08.14.09 at 1:32 pm }

Bahahaha, I am so signing all of my future correspondences with “Have a great YouthNoise day” and expect you to do the same, Bri. I’m really glad my very glamorous job could improve your social standing. Well played.

5 Mom { 08.15.09 at 1:22 pm }

>>people who are stuck in that old-school mentality of “I am Mrs. Brian Burgess”<<

How many Mrs. Brian Burgesses are we talking about here? Have a Happy Navy Day!

6 Melia { 08.15.09 at 2:52 pm }

#1: What is your hubby’s rank again? Because I’m not sure if we can be friends.

#2: I think getting preggers is the solution. You’ve already got the barefoot part down, and then you’ll be able to talk about your hubby’s job, AND how cute your baby is.

7 us { 09.17.09 at 1:11 pm }

i send you a comment in deffrent page of your post. its really good for you to know what you want to be

8 Punky { 05.19.10 at 7:58 pm }

Ok I stumbled across this entry via google and I swear you and I must be one in the same. I’m going through exactly the same things that you’ve mentioned and then some. I’m going crazy and don’t know what to do about it since I’m generally an outspoken person and now I’m constantly biting my tongue around the “Navy Wives.” I’m on the verge of saying, “newsflash: I didn’t marry the Navy and thus am not a Navy wife.” Clearly it’s been a while since you’ve written this so how do you handle it?

9 Gillian { 05.19.10 at 10:31 pm }

Hey Punky, thanks for your comment! I definitely feel your pain, and it’s good to hear from a kindred spirit. I still have moments where I feel like I’m taking crazy pills and need to bite my tongue to keep from snapping at the worst offenders, but mostly I just try to surround myself with likeminded people. It has been hard to move to a new place and find friends who aren’t associated with the Navy, but if you can, do it!

I have been lucky enough to find a really great group of friends, some who are married to Navy guys, some who aren’t, and they keep me sane when I have to deal with the folks who just want to talk about my husband’s job and bitch about the ship. I need girlfriends who will talk about our work and pop culture and food and travel and all those things I care about! So I tend to skip events I know will make me nuts, spend time with people I like and let as much sass out as I can get away with when necessary :) Good luck, and hang in there! Keep me posted…

10 Amy { 02.10.12 at 1:37 pm }

I too stumbled upon this on google, and OH MY GOD this is so spot on. I’m on tour #2 and have no feel for what it’s like here, but let me say, if one more woman asked me when we were going to have children or what my husband does (yeah my job was pretty kick ass too btw) I was going to have to slap somebody.

I have definitely met some awesome women and made friends I will honestly keep in touch with…but then there are “the others.” Gag. At the end of some of the “early” days I would honestly just cry and think “what have I gotten myself into?” So thank you for the post, thanks everyone else for the comments, and it’s good to know I’m not crazy after all!

11 Gillian { 02.12.12 at 7:50 am }

Thanks for your comment, Amy! I’m glad that the post helped confirm that you are not taking crazy pills (“the others” are). There are plenty of us sane women out there who have more to contribute to the world than just being supportive Navy wives and baby-making machines. I hope you are finding some good people to spend time with wherever y’all are living!

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