To All Army Wives (Including Me): “Wear His Ring, Not His Rank!”

Posted: September 13, 2018

You may be an ‘army wife’, but that doesn’t mean you have the job – it’s important to remember that you are your own person, not just the wife of the man in olive green.

Oh! Okay Cool. Your husband is a man in olive green. That’s awesome, super awesome. I would love if you can thank him on my behalf, for serving our country with his sweat and blood. Trust me, I understand how much it takes to be away from family, friends, love, hometown, and everything in multiple ways are part of his identity. And of course, if you were not his pillar of strength, he wouldn’t be where he is right now. I am explicitly stating that he could not have done any of this without you. But oh dear, that’s where your role ends.

Being married to an army man, I know I always take the second precedence. Duty comes first, always! without any ifs, buts, whys, and why-nots . He has taken the oath and as his life partner, I must help him stand by his words. Well, frankly, I am not doing this for the country. I am doing this for my man and here is what makes his role very different from that of mine.

I rejoice with him in his success, I help him overcome a failure. But I don’t sit in his chair or walk into his office, uninvited. They are his, not mine. I married my man for who he is, not for the brass on his shoulders; so of course, with or without the uniform, I take pride in my man and love him with all my heart.

Someone I know introduced herself to me during our first meeting as the wife of the second-in-command of the unit. I couldn’t help but chuckle, “Oh dear! you are not married to an appointment. You are married to a gentleman who is all flesh and blood.” I so wanted to say it out loud then. But better late than never, Mrs so and so.

No, hold on! That’s not all. Some women talk about helping out husbands with their duties.

So, am I supposed to share my husband’s duties? No, the answer is clear, I am not trained to do his tasks. I may be a coder, doctor, teacher or a writer, but I am not supposed to take strategic or welfare related decisions for the unit or the sub-unit on his behalf. I am not supposed to give any instructions to the staff meant to assist him.

So, bade bhaiyya certainly is not arranging the school uniforms of kids in the house and escorting my babies and babas to the school bus stops. And in return, I am not grooming their wives. I trust their parents to have groomed the girls well. If at all they need my advice, I would love to offer some. Definitely not as an officer’s wife but as a fellow human being who share similar problems as theirs. Do I feel great that they think that I am worthy of giving them advice?

Oh yes! Of course. But I am no one to shove my choices in their life. For example, unless I am a Sangeet Visharad myself and they have come to me to learn music, I am not qualified to tell the wives of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) or Other Ranks (OR) that, “Tumahara sur hi nahie lagta hai! (You can’t sing well!)”

I am glad that the men in uniform – full of chivalry and class – miss no opportunity to show us respect. Whether it is an Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in the mess offering me a glass of cold water on a super sunny day or an officer pulling a chair for me at a formal dinner, I feel glad that ‘my husband’ socializes with men who respect women.

I am proud that army as an organization welcomes me with open arms, despite me not being a part of it in any official capacity. I remain a civilian. So, women who pass nasty comments on civilians make me wonder, “When did you do something in the olive green, dear lady?”. Last I checked, you were a civilian yourself.

Also, how much ever I love my husband, he certainly is not the be-it-all of my existence. I have a career. My political viewpoint is different from his and we debate. The army parties are not the only occasions I shop for, and oh yes! he didn’t ‘groom me’. My parents and Alma mater did that really well.

However proud I am of my husband, for the person that he is and the hardships he takes on the lines of his duty, that’s not the only thing I am proud of in my life. There are many more achievements to my credit other than being an army wife, an-almost-single-mother, and grooming the ladies around me.

So, when women say they gave their lives to the army because they couldn’t have enough time beyond army activities, I want to say, “Sorry ma’am, the army never asked for it”. You did it out of your own free will. You did it for your life partner. Blame him with all your might for making your life challenging, but blame the army – Nay!

I am not taking away the fact that your life could have been easier if he was not in the army. But he chose that life and you chose him! Show off his ring as much as you want to. But his rank, sorry, he has earned that for himself, not for you.

Published earlier here.

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