A Military Spouse’s Political Headaches

As a military spouse, talking politics can be a huge headache.

I typically try to avoid conversations about politics but being a military spouse seems to demand that everyone to ask or even assume your opinion on everything from the 99% movement to the price of milk. Having a spouse put their life on the line for this country give you every reason to have strong feelings. But non-military families likely have no clue how you feel, so your convictions may not be clear or make sense to them.

In the end, how you handle talking politics is up to you. But whether you want to engage in the debates or remain tacit, here are a few tips worth reading. Addressing politics as a military spouse

Inviting conversation

Some non-military people feel compelled to share their opinions when they realize or see they’re talking to a military family. For instance, if you’re out with your service member who’s in uniform, a stranger might approach you and start spouting their beliefs. Your service member didn’t mean to solicit the conversation, but it’s happening. Chances are your service member won’t want to say anything, but you might feel comfortable interjecting.
“I have always just said, because of what my husband does for a living, you are allowed to stand up and say whatever,” military wife Heather Winters told us on our facebook page. That’s not to suggest that you look for heated debates, but when they present themselves you don’t have to fear involvement. Having a “canned” statement that you can use to respond to people who bring up politics can be very helpful in this situation.

Remain civil

Steer away from attacking people as it will only stigmatize you and other military families. Be as civil as you would be if you were talking to a child. Everybody gets emotional and passionate during intense conversations—and military families are entitled to passion—but make an effort to not raise your voice, cut people off or ignore what they say.
“When I do speak my mind I listen to everyone else’s opinion, but most of the time it doesn’t change mine,” Holly Ray Telles, a military wife, said. Discussions do not need to end with you or your peer debater changing your beliefs, but it never hurts to learn others’ perspectives to affirm or develop yours.

Keep quiet by choice

Some of our Military Spouse Central readers choose not to talk about politics unless they’re around friendly company. It comes down to not wanting to talk about serious topics with strangers. “I usually avoid (politics) because people simply cannot discuss them calmly,” said Brandy Wicinski. “There is a complete inability to be objective.”

In other cases, it may be difficult for you to control your emotions. Ashley Schwab said, “I try not to discuss (politics) in public because I have such a strong opinion when it comes to it, but I have a bad temper and tend to get mad too easily when people put politicians on a pedestal.”

For you to decide

It’s up to you on what you do and do not say. Some spouses prefer the traditional style of never talking about politics, religion or money outside of their home. Meanwhile, others feel free to exercise their right since they’re husband or wife is defending it abroad. No matter what you choose, try following Military Spouse Central reader Jesica Michelle’s advice: “Whatever I say I always try to be level-headed and calm.”
Photo thanks to longislandrose via Flickr Creative Commons