It feels a little weird writing a blog on my own blog. I have been continually writing blogs over the last couple months, but they have been for others rather than myself. But here I am, and not because I am going to share my life like I typically do, but to answer a question.
Today on our Facebook page, MANning the Homefront, for male military spouses(MANspouses), I said if I could get 30 "likes" for a status update I would share a tip on how to get MANspouses to be more involved in unit/installation activities/events.
Getting any military spouse involved in unit functions, installation activities/events, resiliency classes, spouse clubs/organizations and anything else can be difficult. But I think it goes without saying that the MANspouse is even more reluctant to become involved in these things. While this "idea" I have is not a sure fire way to get MANspouses involved, nor will it work for every MANspouse, it is just one of many suggestions I can give for our FRG leaders, unit leaders, FRSA's and anyone and everyone who is working to assist military families to be more resilient.
So are you ready for this "blow your mind" idea?
Ask the male service members in the unit and around the installation to engage the civilian husbands of the female service members.
WOW!!! Sounds crazy huh?
For all intent and purpose, let's assume this blog is solely focusing on folks who instruct resiliency classes and our FRG leaders and FRSA's.
Attending classes, workshops and unit meetings meant for families is of the utmost importance for spouses to have a mission ready service member. For those in leadership positions, you already know this. Something else you may know is most people aren't all that eager to sit through classes and information briefs. Even more, almost every one of us loathes the words mandatory and fun when they are used together.
While an FRG meeting is not mandatory, it often feels that way. Kind of like if our service member spouse doesn't attend, their decision will be frowned upon and possibly even have negative repercussions. I know leadership at the tippity top doesn't want to hear this, but it's the truth. In EVERY unit.
The only thing worse than mandatory fun is when an individual is volun-TOLD to do something. Of course us spouses can not be volun-TOLD to do anything, but we tend to tag along. Both because we value our time with our spouse and so we can show our spouse we support him/her.
FRG meetings are pretty much a "volun-TOLD mandatory fun" event. Some folks show up and pout the entire time, and some of us actually try to make the best out of the situation. Especially when that FRG meeting is scheduled for a Thursday but not announced until Tuesday.
As a guy there is little that is more intimidating than showing up to a room full of women. So let's assume that the unit we are discussing is deployed. A MANspouse shows up for the first time and of course he feels out of place. Can you imagine how far it would go if when he came in he was able to be rescued from all feelings of awkwardness by the REAR D Captain or 1st Sgt? Imagine if one of the guys in uniform came up to him and took him away from the conversations that were about spa trips, girls night out, menstrual cycles, lactating breasts, fashion styles, bikini waxes and of course how "Sally thinks Brenda is wrong for thinking that Judy shouldn't be angry at Melissa for unfriending Melanie because of what Veronica said about her".
Now I know and most of you know that those things I just mentioned aren't really what happens, but hey... clue phone... it's for you; a lot of guys think that's all women talk about. So guys have this mental block that gives them the heevie jeevies about getting involved in these ever important information briefs. And I will say it, my wife is right, "boys are stupid".
Having the men who are on REAR D come over to us during one of these deployment meetings and talking to us about cars, sports, video games, hunting/fishing, beer and meat; prior to and after the meeting..... well it would ease the tension that is there for us. Just tell the men to be ready for some of us to get overly excited like a puppy dog seeing his owner for the first time all day. Cuz some of us men have little to no interaction with other men.
As for the unit meetings/functions that happen while our service member spouse is home, the same thing should be applied. While I personally am the type that has never met a stranger, many men are reluctant to step out of their comfort zone in the first place. Some guys are dragged to these unit functions. And trust me, there is nothing worse than that feeling of "hmmm..... I wonder why no one is coming to talk to my wife? Does she not have any friends at work? Are they scared to talk to her because I am here? Did they not know she is married? Why is everyone staring at me?" Cuz that is pretty much how many men feel. The female MILspouses who know each other sit and talk to one another. Often times their families know one another. The service members do their thing and talk amongst themselves. Then you got these female service members sitting there with their MANspouse husband, all alone. Kinda just... just there.
As a man we want to know who the guy she talks about ALL THE FREAKIN TIME is. We want to know who that fantastic leader that she admires is. We want to know who has our wife's back. We want to know that we can trust our wife with the people she is literally going to war with.
Now this may all sound silly. You may be wondering how in the heck having the male service members coming over to us MANspouses and engaging us will do any good.
You may be saying to yourself "hey, I will suggest this to my husband. Maybe it will help. But I am not going to push him."
LADIES!!!!! There is something in it for you too.
Imagine what would happen if your husband befriends a MANspouse. Maybe some of our diaper changing, clothes washing, dinner making, house cleaning way of life will rub off on him. Maybe we as MANspouses will give him a bit of insight into what your day looks like as we shoot the breeze. When he calls us up to ask us to go to the bar or out fishing and we say "no.... I have 3 loads of laundry to do, a roast in the oven and a teething infant that is going to get up at 11pm, 2am, and then at 4am, for good".... maybe your husband will stop and think about that for a second.
So once again... a great way to get MANspouses involved in your unit.... have the men in the unit go out of their way to make us feel part of the family. Because that's what we are, family. And it's about time MANspouses feel part of this family too.
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And please share this blog so others can have their minds blown with this simple idea.