Excuse me...

by Sunshine Burgess

Recently, I asked someone a question, nothing complicated, but something I didn’t know.  Their response was “I don’t know.  Don’t you know?  You know everything!”  At first, I took offense to this obviously snide comment, but then I remembered what my mother always told me… “The only stupid question is the one not asked.”  I don’t profess to know everything, but I am not afraid to ask the questions and find the answers I need.

You will soon discover, the one thing that will make you feel the most confused is the mass amount of acronyms that get thrown around on installations.  Everyone assumes you understand because they don’t know that you are new and the only way they will know is if you tell them.  Speak up.  It is likely that you not only need to know what the acronym stands for, you need to know what it means.  Some things are obvious and others are not.  The most convenient person to ask is your spouse.  They may be the person who throws terms around like they are talking to coworkers.  They mean no harm.  It is just a habit for them.  Ask them to slow down and explain things.

While we are discussing our active duty spouses, you shouldn’t just ask them to explain general military knowledge.  Take the time to ask about their job.  When they answer, really listen to them.  Sometimes not really understanding what your spouse does creates a wall in your marriage.  We spend usually 10-12 hours a day apart.  Don’t you want to know what they do with that time?  Understanding what their job entails also makes it easier to understand when they can’t be home on time or why they may have a little more stress sometimes.  It is also good to take that time to let them know how you spent your day.  Communication is so important.  Not just asking the questions, but really listening to the answers.

Learning in the military is a career journey.  Even when you think you know the answer, you have to be accepting of learning a new way.  Things change all the time.  The way things were done five or ten years ago may not be the way they are done today.  Not only do things change over time, but there are changes from one location to the next.  Sometimes, even for us seasoned spouses, asking the questions is often about verifying that we still understand fully.  If a new spouse asks me a question, I may say “as I understand it, but let me double check”.  It is worse to give bad information than to say that you don’t know and need to find out!

As new military spouses attempt to navigate this life, if you only remember one piece of advice it would be to never be afraid to ask the questions.  If your questions are met with disdain and unfriendly remarks, don’t stop asking… just remember to ask a different person!