03 August, 2010

Clash of the Lifestyles

Most of you ladies are milspouses, and I'm sure that some (if not all) of you have had this issue in the past.

One of my family members just does. not. get it. At all. Every time I mention something about Joe being gone or in the desert or whatever, he compares it to one of his previous jobs. Working in the oil fields. *sigh*

I know that guys who work in oil fields are gone a lot, but it's not the same thing. I know that their job can be dangerous from time to time. It's a long, hot, tiring job. I get it. Like deployment, it can suck.

But working in oil fields does not involve:

- IEDs
- Sleeping in a bunk/tent
- Carrying a weapon
- A group of people wanting you dead because of what you stand for
- Withstanding the heat of a 140 degree afternoon
- Wearing a uniform 24/7
- Getting pictures from home, because you're halfway around the world
- Getting food/snacks in the mail because you can't go to the store and get it yourself
- Going on a convoy to get places instead of hopping in your own car
- Missing holidays/birthdays because you can't just take off work
- Leaving your family halfway across the world to go fight for a stranger's freedom
- Making phone calls from a military phone because you can't pick up your cell phone
- Using Skype just to get a short glimpse of your loved one(s)

The life of an oil field worker and the life of a military service member are completely different.

When things happen on an oil field/rig, they're accidents. Something that no one expected to happen and everyone tried to prevent. When something happens on the battlefield, it was because the enemy was trying to hurt them. It wasn't an accident, it was a casualty of war. Oil field workers don't sign up to fight for freedom or give their lives for something bigger or greater than they are. This is not to say that it isn't sad or tragic when something happens on either front. The two jobs are just not comparable.

How do I make someone who isn't familiar with the military understand? He has friends who are in the Army, but apparently he still doesn't "get it." I want him to fully understand that this isn't just a job. It's a calling; it's a sacrifice. One that not all men make. While I feel for women whose husbands work on oil fields... Their husbands are safe. No one group of people try to kill them because of what they do and what they stand for. Their husbands sleep in hotel rooms or trailers. They don't fight for their lives every day. And, unless they're contracted by the government to work overseas, they're safe in the States.

I suppose I'm finally getting the clash of the two lifestyles: civilian and military. Looking back, I'm not sure that I fully understood the sacrifice either. As a student of history, I recognized the significance and the loss. I recognized the men and women who gave their lives so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have. But it wasn't until my husband became a member of the military that I fully understood it all. The sacrifice, the honor, the pride and the love that comes with the military lifestyle.

Do I attempt to get him to understand? Or do I set it off to the side knowing that he will probably not make the effort to understand (or sympathize) anyway? *sigh* Family members. Love 'em. Hate 'em. Can't live without 'em.

**I'm giving a shout out to my bestie, Melissa! She's had 2 separate blogs in the past - one for her crafts and one for her random life thoughts - and is now merging the two into one! It's super cute and has a *fantastic* name: Mr. Magnificent & Company. Apparently, her hubby is often referred to as Mr. Magnificent (probably because he's so handy around the house!) and with the addition of a baby to their house, she thought the name fitting for her new, improved blog! So please stop by, read a bit, laugh a bit, comment [and maybe even follow]! I know she'd love to have you. =D**



Erin said...

That is so frustrating. Like when people compare business trips to deployments, ummm not at all the same thing. Or they just don't get in general. Like my Uncle one Christmas when D was in Iraq didn't understand why I was so sad. He said "well your husband isn't on the front lines or anything." Uh, first of all this isn't WW2 so their aren't front lines and second, he encounters IEDs daily.

Sigh, I just really wish people truly understood how much military families sacrifice. Or at least didn't claim to get it when they really don't

JG said...

The way I choose to look at it, is that people aren't necessarily meaning to minimalize what you're going through. They're trying to understand as best they can. That's the best they can. It's their way of saying they care, even if it doesn't come out that way.

And I have to say, that blog title cracks me up. But that's because I'm coming off of the tail-end of a "Chuck" marathon and I've been explaining to SoldierMan why they call him Captain Awesome. :)

Dave and Ashley said...

I feel ya. It's frustrating but until they are in YOUR SHOES, they will never get it. And it's going to irk you a little bit inside every time something is side.

I frequently found when friends are complaining to me about the littlest, most mundane things during this deployment, I think to myself "seriously? do you know who you are talking to.. I'm sorry I don't care more that your pizza got burnt, my husband is in the middle of a WAR ZONE"...

I don't think they do it on purpose, but they really can't relate or understand until this is something that they first hand experience. Good luck!

Amber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

From a non military spouse, I honestly think some of us might be getting a bad wrap about "not understanding" what you go through.

I am that spouse who has compared business trips to deployments. In the sense of, "I know how difficult it is for me when my husband is away for the week - I can't begin to imagine how tough this must be for you."

While my husband isn't serving, my brother is. So I do undertsand the fear and anxiety. And I think when non military people try to compare deployments to their every day jobs or activities, it is their way of trying to sympathize with you. Trying to let you know that they empathize with your pain (or at least they are trying to)

I think they are trying to let you know that they get what seperation feels like - what worry feels like. Even though they may not understand the danger of a war zone or death from someone being killed in action, they do understand dangerous jobs and death in general. It is our way of trying to offer comfort and appreciation for the sacrifice that you have made.

Your comments seem very belittling to the "every day" people who aren't serving.

Please don't misunderstand. I am not some unappreciative citizen who thinks your husband isn't doing me the greatest service any person could possibly offer. I pray every single night for the men and women serving our country. I ask God to grant them safety and their families peace. I wish there were more ways that I could show my appreciation for our armed forces. I openly admit that I couldn't possibly undertsand exactly how you feel or how Joe's deployment affects your life on such a personal level - but any words that I offer any comparisons that I may draw are just a way to try and show that I want to understand how you feel and I don't want you to feel alone in what you are going through. And I truly believe that others who offer those same words are trying to do the same thing.

Like I said - I just think that people who say "I understand" even though they obviously cannot fully grasp your situation are only doing what they can to try and offer gratitude and comfort to you. It may seem inappropriate to you or other military spouses, but at least they are trying.

d.a.r. said...

As another military wife who has already been through one long and really scary deployment and is getting ready for another, I can see where you are coming from. It is difficult to hear "omg I am going to die, my husband has been gone for an entire weekend!" when it has been 8 months since the last time you have laid eyes on your own husband and weeks since you have even heard his own voice.

But, don't you think the women who have actually lost their husbands (or hell, it is 2010, the men who have lost their wives) think we look ridiculous for complaining about how long it has been since we've seen our spouses when they will never see theirs again in this lifetime?

It is like a deployment--just because your husband and your friend's husband are in the same unit does not mean you will have the same level of communication. My neighbor spent hours daily with her husband on Skype last deployment and I never once got to see my husband's face on webcam.

Everyone's situation and perspective is different. Just because a civilian has never lived in our shoes and cannot understand what it is like living this life day-to-day does not mean that they can't be sympathetic or try to understand...or even to appreciate it. And you know, they may appreciate you attempting to understand what they go through. Sure, it is different from our lives, and it may seem easier, but we all have our own cross to bear.

Sorry for playing devil's advocate. I just feel so bad when women get so caught up in this "I have it worse than you" drama. What a sad competition to try and win!!

Marie said...

I have to agree with most comments here that everyone's experience with loss and seperation is very different and we would be remiss to judge those feelings, even if it is a "civilian complaining about her husband being gone for work for a weekend." I am a military wife, but my husband is in the guard so we have experienced both deployment seperations and civilian seperations when we are traveling for work, and both of them are difficult. I miss my husband just as much when I'm out of town for a night as I do when he's deployed for a year. The difference is that I have to miss him longer on deployments.
At first it used to bother me when civilian wives talked about their husbands being gone until I realized that it's just their way of trying to connect to my situation and show empathy. It doesn't get to me anymore and I am jsut as sorry for them when their husbands are out of town for 2 weeks for business as I am for my fellow milspouses whose husbands are deployed.
I don't mean for this to be critical at all, I love your blog and follow it often, I just hope this helps aleviate the frustrations you feel regarding this family member. He might be trying to relate to you the best way he knows how.

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

I agree with you. I have people in my life, mainly family members who don't get it and frankly don't even try to. Its frustrating.

I'm going to go check her out!

Goodnight moon said...

I completely get it!!!! My Fox's parents never get it either. It is soooo annoying. My MIL watches the Army Wives and thinks she gets what Fox does because of the show.....ummm, NO!

I feel for ya girl! But at least we are all here for you, and we GET it!!!!!

Sending hugs!!!