Before long Married to the Army Alaska will be airing. Teaser clips are up on YouTube. I have to say that while I struggled with not even making the cut to the official phone interview, I am now so glad I didn’t make the cut. I love blogging, where I have control over what is seen, and how it’s seen. I try to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. But it’s all real and authentic. You don’t have only the five bad moments and have the fifty good ones cut. Now, I don’t know what the show will be like, but I’m pretty sure the show will leave several of the wifes saying that what is seen is not an accurate portrayal of her. Or maybe not. Since the show has not aired yet, and I don’t have cable to see it when it does air, I can’t really say if it’s what my life is like or not. However, since my husband came home we’ve been watching Army Wives, we are a couple of episodes into the second season and I can tell you what from that show is real and what is not so much.

I’ll start with the characters. First, is Claudia Joy Holden. I love her, and I love her husband. But every time I watch I thank my husband that his job is not one where politics come into play. It would be rare (or me doing something totally outrageous) for my actions to be scrutinized to the point where a promotion, or a job could hang in the balance. The public will not look at my husband as a leader, so I will not be looked at as the wife of a leader. My husband says that an officer always has the choice whether or not to put the pressure of the public on his wife, but he also puts his ultimate trust in God, not in the system. The truth is, the episode where she had to kick her friend out because of possible press issues really isn’t that far off. There are many officers, and even NCO’s in the military who know that what the family does reflects on them, so they put a lot of pressure on the family to be perfect. The kids must know Latin by the time they are twelve. The sons must excel at football. The daughters must watch who they date. The wife must be involved in the FRG, the spouse’s club, and all sorts of things on post. And she must always act with grace and poise. I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the attitude that he joined the Army not me, so anything I do is up to me. I decided this year to take time off from PWOC and the FRG and the wives coffee, and my husband didn’t worry that would take me away from all the good spousal networking I could do for him. He’s okay that even when I did all that stuff I never logged into VMIS, because I don’t care about the awards and recognition from the garrison commander. He doesn’t care either. What I do is for me, and only me. Not saying a little spousal networking is wrong, it can be done in the way of Claudia Joy, with grace. Just glad that I don’t have to worry about it.

Denise Sherwood. The good girl. She does everything just by the book. Chase laughed the first episode when she answered the phone “Major Sherwood’s residence.” Yeah, I remember when I read that part of the handbook. I think I may have even asked my husband if he wanted me to answer that way. He seems to find the whole thing a little pretentious. I’ve been told, that if I do start trying to follow that rule, I get lectured that most people just say “hello.” In the first season she is hiding that her son is beating her while her husband is gone. Now, no one would actually say that she should hide that, but Army wife culture would say that she did everything right. You hide your problems from those around you. Stuff like an abusive son really could hurt the husband’s career. Someone might wonder if he got the idea that hitting was okay from the dad. Others might questions the father’s ability to lead if he couldn’t control his son. So family problems stay in the family. Secrets are big in the military. Us wives are also told that while our husband is gone we should tell him what he needs to hear so that he can concentrate on his job, not worry about us here. Kids doing bad in school? Don’t tell him, if he’s worried about the kids, he can’t focus on his job. You just got fired? Gloss it over. Car got repo-ed? Tell him when he comes home. Don’t even tell him you miss him, he needs to think everything is working as smoothly as clockwork in his absence. I honestly hope this is being told to wives less and less because it’s wrong. First, he needs to know you need him. He will have a hard time coming home if he thinks he wasn’t even missed. Second, he’ll find out you are lying at some point. Either he can hear it in your voice, and he wonders what’s up. Or he will come home and find his life turned upside down, like Major Sherwood did. For a guy who is deployed, trust is huge. He has to trust the guys he works with because his life hangs in the balance. A breach of trust is just about the worst thing for him. And it takes more than a few episodes to bring the trust back. For many families the lies and the cover-ups are the kiss of death. It’s sad because it’s what we are told to do. I think it would be better to tell wives to woman up and take care of business, and then share what you are going through with your husband. Miss you husband, but go on with life, so that you can truthfully tell him I miss you, but life is going on. Pay the bills so that the water doesn’t get turned off or the car repo-ed. I heard a story of one wife who just put all the bills in a shoebox while her husband was gone. You can’t do that. It’s hard. It’s really hard to do your jobs and take over your husband’s jobs as well, but it must be done. Sometimes, crap just happens. The dishwasher breaks, a tree fell on the car, whatever. Have a plan, then tell your man about the issue and the plan. He may come up with a better plan, but he won’t have to worry about it if he doesn’t because you have a plan. It doesn’t have to be the best plan, it may be washing dishes by hand, but at least he knows you’ve got things covered. And he doesn’t come home to a bunch of surprises that will throw him for a loop.

Roxie. The naive new wife. I’ve had moments I want to call up a commander and complain about treatment my husband has been receiving. I’ve been known to want to explain to the commander just how his dumb ideas are affecting my husband’s life. Never done it though, and my husband is eternally thankful. Not that as FRG leader I never argued with a commander, but that was on behalf of all families and soldiers, not just mine. I’ll also admit to having my days of staying in my pj’s all day long, not wanting to leave the house in case my husband calls, and all that stuff. However, it’s up to the wife to put her big girl pants on and get over it. She can’t run to the XO to get reassurance before she moves on. But I love that she never got the rule book on how to behave. She and her husband make up their own rule book as they go along. I think we’d all be a lot more authentic and grow a lot closer as military wives if we followed their lead.

Pamela. My husband isn’t SF, and I am every thankful for that because he can talk with me about what he does. We grow closer and bond over that. I think it was good for the both of us to talk over the June 1 attack together. What he felt, what I felt. I can’t imagine knowing that my husband must be seeing and doing some of the most emotional challenging things in the Army and not being able to help. I did find it funny that she was one of the wives in favor of the wife going to congress for an investigation into her husband’s death. I totally agree, but as an SF wife, her husband’s death would be classified and she would not get any answers.

The Burtons. I was yelling at the tv when Joan asked her husband what he would have done in the situation with the little girl. Even before he answered. “The right answer is ‘I don’t know!” He blew that one. So I’m telling you now, if you haven’t even been to basic training much less haven’t been deployed, the answer is “I don’t know.” You dont’ know how you would react in any situation. You might know what you’d like to think you’d do, but honestly, you don’t know if you’d pee your pants and cry for momma if you had to deal with any of the stuff our deployed soldiers had to deal with. Correct answer is “I don’t know.” Period. He could have also been logical and told her that if she’s tried to save the girl she would have given away her and her troops position and then they would have all come home in a box. Remind her that it’s one thing to want to be a hero, but her mission is to make sure that our guys come home alive with all parts attached if at all possible. Just saying.

Mrs. Baker. The sad thing is that she does exist. The wife that is so entrenched in the culture that she will say or do anything to get the next promotion. A promotion for him is a promotion for her. Yes, there are totally women who would step on anyone to get her way. There are also officers and NCO’s that feel the same way. I could tell stories. But I won’t.

The soldier who blew up the hump bar. Most soldiers don’t beat their wives. Most soldiers have more control than that. However, with the culture of cover up and secrets in the Army, you never know, usually until it’s too late.

What else about the show? I’ve yet to be in a FRG that involved. But I think the show shows what a FRG is supposed to be, but just isn’t. Never been to a Jody bar, but know that’s what some wives do. What Pam said about making friends fast is true, you don’t have time to ease into relationships. Then when you do, you hold fast, you have your gang, like the spouses in the show. I’d say it’s unusual for there to be such diversity in spouse’s rank, but my best friends is an NCO’s wife, and well the whole bonding by birth in a bar does give a plausible explanation for them all choosing each other. Life isn’t that much drama, but who wants to watch a show where the most excitement is changing yet another poopy diaper?

I’m sure there is so much more I could say, but I think that’s enough for now.

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