Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Things People Say - guest post by Amy Bird, author of 'Yours is Mine'

I'm delighted to welcome again to my blog UK Navy Wife and Author, Amy Bird. Amy's debut novel, psychological thriller 'Yours is Mine', looks at what happens when a Navy Wife agrees to exchange identities while her husband is away. In the real world, Amy also has some thoughts to share on the life of a Navy Wife. Over to you, Amy...

As a Navy Wife, when you talk to non-Navy people (yes, it does occasionally happen), you may find a certain lack of tact around your spousal situation. I’m sure most of it is unintentional, but as being forewarned is forearmed, I’ve put down the top less than ideal comments I’ve received over the years, with some (polite) thoughts about how you might respond.

1.Did you know when you met him he wanted to be in the Navy?
This is a double-edged question. If you say ‘yes’, then you are deemed by the asker to have merrily signed up for whatever hardship absence brings. If you say ‘no’, you will be met with sympathy, as if your spouse being in the Navy is a Tragedy (rather than something rather cool, in its own way). I recommend getting in there early with your own line, e.g. ‘I always knew he wanted to be in the Navy and he loves it, so I support him in that’. Tends to remove negativity from the discussion.

2. At least you don’t have children.
Doubly insensitive. Quite likely, you either have been trying for children and haven’t yet managed to have them (in which case this comment will rub it in), or would like to have them at some point and are looking forward to it (in which case this comment will make you worry about the future).  Everyone deals with having children in their own way. There are certain additional challenges in the military, which Kate, the protagonist in my novel ‘Yours is Mine’, is very alive to, but like all challenges, they can be coped with. With this comment, I tend to cop-out, and just laugh and change the subject.

3. Your husband’s in [geographic location]? I heard about the situation there. Do you think there’ll be military action?
Yes, yes, I did hear about the situation there. I’m having trouble sleeping for thinking about it. Thank you so much for bringing it up. The satisfaction about this question, though, is that you will probably be much more well-versed about the ‘situation’ than they are, and can use this opportunity to show off your knowledge.

4. The Navy…I thought that’s something other people did
Seriously, somebody once said this to me, with a really snobby, dismissive expression, as if the Navy was the lowest of the low. The appropriate response to this is probably ‘Yes, thankfully it is – to defend you and me.’ Even if in your head you aren’t so fussed about whether they are defended…

5. My other half is going away all week – I’m really going to miss him.
Honestly. Man up! Our other halves go away for months at a time. This probably is not the sympathetic approach the speaker is looking for. I try to tell myself that everyone’s relationship has a different dynamic, and that for some people a week really is a long time. You can then say something cheerful like ‘Just think how great it will be to see him when he gets home again.’

6.  Long-distance relationships are rubbish. For a short time maybe it works, but not indefinitely. 
At some point after saying this, the speaker usually realises that they have put their foot in their mouth, big-time. If not, I usually help them out with ‘Well, I find after 10 years it’s going quite well.’ They will then say, ‘Oh, but you’re married – that’s different.’ I’m not sure how exactly it’s different – apart from that maybe we made an effort. This can actually become quite a nice conversation, because the speaker will be so keen to make up for potentially having offended you, they’ll be really enthusiastic when you tell them about all the emails and calls you receive.

7. I love a man in uniform.
It is difficult to respond to this without making it sound like you are thinking of your last sexual encounter. I often wonder if the politest response would be ‘Well, I have one, would you like him?’ But that’s not an offer I’m willing to make. So I generally just say ‘Me too,’ wait for the misty look to disappear from their eyes, and move on. This is an even more awkward scenario if your husband is about to appear, in uniform, as when they do, the person you are speaking to may feel obliged to eye them up, out of some warped sense of etiquette. Ultimately, though, you get to feel smug – after all, we love a man in uniform, too. Hopefully, the one we are married to.

8. And what is not said: So, what do you do?
For some people, inexplicably, it is a given that being a Navy Wife is a full-time occupation. Yes, for some people it is. But for others it isn’t, and the assumption can be galling. If you have a job, or indeed any pursuit, that you are proud of (for me, I’m a lawyer and an author), I suggest getting that into the conversation early on. I admit I often don’t, just to see how long the assumption that all I do is stare out to sea will last.

That’s it from me. I’d love to hear about any bizarre comments you receive from people – add them to the comments section below.
If you’d like to hear about the entanglements that my fictional Navy Wife protagonist, Kate, gets involved in while her husband is away, check out ‘Yours is Mine’, available from Amazon US ( and UK ( as well as iTunes, Kobo etc. But I warn you – don’t take any advice from her!

1 comment:

I love, love your comments and questions! Just remember to not mention any security info about your Sailor! Thank you!

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