I try not to be one of those girls who lets being a “milso” (Military Significant Other) define them. After all, it’s just his job, not mine – you don’t hear women going around calling themselves “teacher wives” and “accountant girlfriends.”
But when you spend several months of the year living alone, bored and/or worried, it’s pretty hard to not be shaped by it in some way – and to be totally honest? I think it’s shaped me for the better.
The real reason I don’t like being defined by it is the OSMW (over-sensitive military wife) stereotype – everyone knows one. I’d like to pretend they don’t exist, but they do – so instead of sitting back and staring at the ground with an “I’m not with them” t-shirt, I thought I’d stand up, do some milso mythbusting, and point out why we’re actually a pretty great bunch. So here’s my take on what it means to be an army partner, and what it doesn’t.
Milso’s are not all:
Stay at home mums – although if we were, I don’t see why that is always such a bad thing.
Uneducated – I’m the one with the degree in this relationship, thanks.
Women who throw away our own careers for theirs – We’ve both turned down opportunities for the sake of the other’s job. Same as any other relationship, it’s a compromise – army doesn’t hold a magic trump card.
Gold diggers – It’s just an ordinary job. Decent pay, but nothing extraordinary – plenty of people you would think of as “just tradies” make more.
Weak/needy/clingy – if that were true, we wouldn’t be with men whose job descriptions involve being away for several months every year.
Delusional – yes, there are some women who try to “pull rank” (i.e. “bow down to me because my husband is a sergeant and yours is a lance-corporal) but they’re an exception, not a rule. B doesn’t know how to write a press release just because he’s with me, and I don’t get an army rank because I’m with him.
Army worshippers – am I proud of him? Yes. Do I think he deserves free movie tickets? No.
What we actually are:
Independent – see above, under “weak.” The one’s who can’t handle being left without their partner and best friend for months on end drop out pretty quickly (note: I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Distance seriously sucks, and you’re not a bad or “weak” person if it’s not for you.)
Dedicated – because you don’t put up with this shit if you aren’t in it for the long haul. But the determination to put your head down and get on with things quickly extends into the rest of your life – your job, your gym routine, knitting, you name it.
Resourceful – when you’re alone this long, you learn to find a hobby in anything, a friend anywhere, and a meal for one in any fridge!
Positive and optimistic – there’s not really another option but to find silver linings in everything (and there’s a lot of them if you take the time to look – hello “me time”!)
And don’t even get me started on the women who do this with several kids and a crazy job like nursing, or move to tiny towns or even overseas – wonderwomen, truly.
If you’re a fellow milso or a serving member I’d love to hear your take on this – did I hit the nail on the head, or did I miss anything?