Monday, August 23, 2010

Question of the Day

I'd just like to say in advance that this is a sort of military themed question, so for all my non-military readers I apologize in advance, but don't feel as if you can't answer it. I'm going to give a civilian perspective to it as well.

Ok..I bring up this question because there is a debate on a forum I am part of about various ranks of husbands and wives not being friends with other wives because of the rank.

In fact, the husband in question told his wife not to be friends with lower-ranking wives in his unit. He is not an officer, but upper enlisted. I'm not sure the rank.

For the civilians out there I compare this to your husband working at a job and telling you not to socialize with the boss' wife or co-workers wives that might be under your husband.

Do you agree with this? Thoughts?

18 comments:

d.a.r. said...

I think there has to be some middle ground. Socializing and mingling amongst rank (civilian OR military) shouldn't be prohibited. Especially the spouses! Just because your husband and my husband don't do the same job does not mean that I should belittle you or vice versa. At the same time, I think there have to be boundaries...especially if it starts to bleed over into the work place in the form of favoritism or other unprofessional looking behavior.

Does that even make sense? Ah!

As a civilian example, I have been criticized for being too friendly with the staff in our office. But nearly all of the other attorneys are older men--the staff is just made up of younger women which happens to be my usual social circle. But I understand the criticsm and try to keep those relationships out of the office so that it doesn't look completely unprofessional.

Does that mean I have the right to be a huge snobby bitch to them while we are in the office just because I am "ranked" higher? Of course not. And it certainly doesn't entitle my husband to be a jackass to their husbands, either.

So yes--you can be friends. But in the military, where rank divisions are there for a reason (order, authority, leadership, yada yada yada), I think you just have to tread lightly and be cautious of unintended effects.

annoyed army wife said...

I agree with d.a.r. As long as the spouses in question are mature enough to not let their husbands' ranks dictate friendship roles I say go for it. I know how bad this situation sucks from first hand experience.

At our last duty station OccDoc was the only married officer on post, well, the only married officer whose wife still lived with him and talked to him on a regular. As a result all the 'enlisted' wives avoided me like a leper. I'd wave at them in the street or at the commissary and I'd get a curteous greeting of 'Hello, ma'am.' Then they'd hurry off. OccDoc explained this when I was telling him about my day and told me he'd talk to his soldiers for me. I told him to forget it, if the wives need to be told to be my friend I don't want them anyway.

How about we treat each other like, oh, I don't know, humans who need social interaction? We live so off post that I never run into another MilSpouse, so I just don't worry about it and go on trying to be every one else's friend.

hmb said...

I can see the reason why it's harder for the servicemembers...but I don't understand when it comes to the spouses. I can tell you, however, that if our LT's wife calls me "one of the Joe's wives" one more time, I'll flip the eff out. Her husband went green to gold, so she of all people should know what it's like to be an enlisted spouse. Get over yourself, lady!

Lisa said...

Not being married, I think I have a little more flexibility. Fraternization happens in the civilian world and in the military world. I think segregating by rank is kind of silly, because I want to be able to have friends, especially when we move to a new post.

However, d.a.r. is right, there does need to be some boundary. My old store had some trouble with this, so the manager set down guidelines that the Supervisors couldn't continue to do things with the staff the way they have. My current store is FAR worse than my old store though. I watched my assistant manager take a shot on a camping trip with an underage employee, and a supervisor not only buy shots but picked up the tab for another underage employee.

It's great to have a great relationship between the management and staff, but there needs to be a line.

I can understand why when P takes company command he would want me to be careful about who my friends are within his unit. I don't want there to be any accusation of favoritism, because P is probably one of the most fair, careful leaders I know. But he would never tell me NOT to be friends with any of the women. He respects my judgement enough to let me choose my friends.

Mary Teresa said...

I think it is VERY person dependent. My best friend is the commanders wife. My husband is an e4. Bit of a difference. But I wouldn't be still moving if it weren't for her support. A lot of it is the understanding between us that some things are said in confidence and if one of us breaks that, it's the end. I tell her things about the soldiers that he doesn't need to know, and she tells me some officer side of the house issues, which I don't share with my husband. That being said, both our husband's also know and understand that rule as well. There may only be 2 of us in the friendship, but there is and entire unit that could be affected by it. It's certainly not easy, but I think it's case and person dependent.

Natalia said...

I agree with the above comments. I understand the do-not fraternize rule between Officers and Enlisted, but we can (and should) at least be civil human beings to each other. Our husband's ranks have nothing to do with us...right?!? :-)

Julie the Army Wife said...

I think for the most part your husband rank shouldn't really matter when it comes to friendships. But I can see some situations that might not be ok. Like if I was best buddies with the wives of men in my husband's chain of command. That might make things hard and awkward. But for the most part I think it should be fine to be friends with whoever you want.

ThatArmyWife said...

In reality, the strict application of the fraternization rule applies to those in a specific chain of command. For example, it can cause issues between a CO and their soldiers if on the weekends they are drinking together and during the week the soldiers have to obey direct orders. It can be ok, but it can also cause issues.

There is NO fraternization rule about spouses. My husband is an officer. Two of my best friends are enlisted spouses. The two facts have nothing to do with each other.

I think it has more to do with healthy boundaries between a wife's social life and friends and her husband's career. Because of the military being such a part of our lives, it's easy for those lines to blur. Blurred boundaries cause issues. My husband's rank has nothing to do with who I'm friends with, how people treat me,etc.

Jeannette said...

I understand why it's in place. I don't like it. My husband joined the Army after college so everyone our age is senior enlisted or officer. I have several officer wives friends through my Bible study group, but we can't really hang out anywhere else. I can't have them over to dinner for example. It seems that this post isn't too worried about fraternization outside of units. Unfortunately, my hubby works with the husbands of the wives whom I'm friends with at church.

Jessica @ {Mis}Adventures of an Army Wife said...

I agree with everyone else...rank shouldn't matter, but there need to be healthy boundaries.

Little Momma said...

I haven't had to deal with this yet, but I suspect with my hubby going back in after so many years out, I will be one of the older wives when it comes to socializing, & I'm not looking forward to it.

I can get along & find common ground with pretty much anyone, but I hate to not be able to socialize with other women I might have more in common with just because of the rank our husbands hold.

silver star said...

I agree with d.a.r. as well. In his former unit, my husband is closer in age and shares similar interests with people of a higher rank than him. While all of us would hang out while they were off-duty, on-duty it was all business. At Family Day, we sat w/couples that the soldiers were the same rank as my husband, it felt odd to me since I didn't know any of them before that day, but I understood why and we did get along.

Linda said...

I'm an officer's wife. My husband is the unit commander. There are no other officers in the unit. I am friendly with anyone who is willing to be my friend as well. But...that being said, it does come down from the soldiers to the spouses that I'm "The Old Man's wife" and as such, they shouldn't socialize with me.

I do NOT wear my husband's rank. I pride myself on having my own mind, opinion and make my own friends based on that alone...not the rank structure of the unit.

My husband will distance himself from his soldiers simply because there are rules in the UCMJ that prohibit fraternization. This doesn't mean that when there are social functions he sits alone and ignores everyone. We participate. We have hosted the entire unit at our home and have never had any problems.

But, as a rule, we do not get invited to casual social functions (cookouts, games, etc). I do get included in baby showers, wedding showers and the occasional catalog party, but other than that, not much.

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Full of Heart said...

I think there are two answers to this. First, I find it strange when I find out someone is BFFs with their husband's CO's wife. I just feel like that is too close for comfort, and how are things handled when your husband messes up and the CO has to reprimand him, or the reverse? It just seems uncomfortable to me...
That being said, I think that otherwise, especially within totally different chain's of command that it's fine for wives of different ranking husbands to be friends. One of my really good friend's husband is an officer and mine is a low ranking enlisted, and we have no problems. I think a lot of that is because her husband's jobs is so removed from my husband's job that there's no crossover.
I think it just totally depends on the situation's specifics!

Mom in High Heels said...

It's difficult. James Bond has never said "Oh, you can't be friends with so-and-so" but I know how difficult it would be for him if I were BFF's with a soldier in his direct chain. What would happen if James Bond had to discipline said soldier? Also, I like to have people over for dinner, and it would be uncomfortable for James Bond and said soldier as well. I don't want to do anything that will cause James Bond or another soldier problems with work.
That being said, I don't pick my friends based on rank, but I'm careful about who I share certain things with. I have loads and loads of friends whose dh's are all different ranks (their dh's, not them), though they are not in James Bond's direct CoC. And I'm civil and friendly to everyone, regardless of their dh's rank. I'm no better than anyone else. Just because my dh might outrank theirs, that doesn't mean I can be snobbish about it. There are loads of spouses whose dh's outrank James Bond and I wouldn't want them to treat me poorly because of that. It's a fine line, but if you're kind to everyone, and treat them with respect you'll be just fine.
I feel like I rambled. Does any of that make sense?

Young Mom/Wife said...

I can understand that husbands concern to a point. However, does this mean that she can't socialize with these women at group functions or wives get togethers!? There really is no way around NOT mingling with those women unless her husband keeps her locked in her house, and doesn't take her to group events.

Stacey said...

Don't agree. No matter what. I know a lot of people disagree, but I just don't think it's fair (or right) to sort of segregate yourself. I don't care what you do in life, nobody is better than anyone else. I think that as military families we spouses should stick together...not stab each other in the back, which is what I've gotten used to. It shouldn't be that way. We've got too much else to worry about.