When does venting become whining?

Successes during Deployments

   We’ve all been asked the question, “How is your deployment going?”  And we have all taken a deep breath and started from the top of our “What Went Wrong List”.

The list can be pages long.  We blame Murphy’s Law, the military, and even our husbands.  My favorite debate to watch is when two women go back and forth about who had the worst deployment!  They act as if there is a reward for the number of ER visits and broken appliances.  And if you have heard a wife tell the same story again and again, you’ll notice that it can grow like a great big fish tale.  I always feel as if I should be sitting and eating popcorn as the conversation goes from one to the other.   It’s better than dinner theater.

I know that these women find an odd sense of strength from feeling that they got through a “harder” deployment.  I find it disheartening.  There is nothing wrong with a good venting conversation amongst friends, but going back and forth with the wife you barely know at the soccer field, gym, or store is sad.  Does it really matter who has it worse?  Isn’t it equally awful that both husbands are deployed?

So, when was the last time you heard a woman talking about her successes during a deployment? I know some of you are raising one eyebrow as you are reading this thinking, “Does this girl’s husband not deploy!?”  I promise he has been.  I just think it would be great to hear a woman talk about how she was able to go back to school or even finish her Master’s Degree.  It would be inspiring to hear women talk about getting back in shape, becoming organized, starting their own business, etc.  All of us have had deployment success stories.  Some stories might seem small, but they are huge to the woman it happens to.

A military wife is an amazing type of woman. Not just any woman could live this life. They are smart, resourceful, caring, nurturing, strong, independent, and the list goes on and on.  So why are we focused on what goes wrong for us?  Some would argue that telling another wife what was going right would be bragging or rude.  But, I don’t see that as the case.

No one has ever had the fairy tale perfect deployment.  I have never heard a wife say, “Wow, your deployment has been rough?  Mine has been PERFECT!  My children have arrived at school on time every day.  My e-mail comes through like clock work.  I wake up every morning with my house in order, my meals planned, and I lost five more pounds than I wanted to lose!”  IF this did happen, we would have one of two reactions.  First would be to wish physical harm upon her, and the second would be to explode with laughter because she is full of . . . well, let’s just stick with hysterical laughter.

None of us will ever have the perfect deployment.  We will all have our ups and downs.  The difference will be what we decide to focus on.  Do you really want to remember your patrols by the bad things that have happened?  We can change this.  We can start focusing on the accomplishments, goals met, and successes.

I am challenging you.  Next time you are talking to a fellow spouse, ask how their deployment is going and see where their part of the conversation goes.  If they start with the list of things that went wrong, ask what IS working for them.  Maybe it’s as simple as getting on a great schedule.

If you belong to a Family Readiness Group, start a new tradition when getting to know each other.  Make everyone say at least one positive thing that they have done during their husband’s deployment.  It might seem corny at first, but what you don’t know is that you are not only setting a better mood (Trust me; your fellow wives will giggle when you mention this idea.  Don’t worry, just blame me!), you are setting a better example for that young new wife sitting next to you.

To take this even a step further, do this when writing your husband.  Whether it is in a letter or an email, take the time to tell him what is going right for you. Our husbands are our best friends and who we lean on when times are difficult. Sometimes we forget to mention the good stuff.   It will make you and your husband feel better knowing that there is more to your life than “the bad list”.  If you journal, you can start off every entry with something you are thankful for.  A lot of times you will find your successes on these lists.

Only we can change our outlook on this crazy life.  Remember that you can vent when venting is needed, but then let it go.  Don’t carry the weight of the bad stuff all through your deployment. Instead, share your success stories.  The wife you are talking to might just think to herself, “If she can do it, so can I!”  Be positive, not only for yourself, but for your husband, children, and those amazing friends that will be there to listen when you do need to “vent”.

6 thoughts on “When does venting become whining?

  1. Good point! It got me thinking, I will need to pay closer attention to my conversatons with friends. Another note, in a different post you commented to a woman about how “military wives do more before before 9 am than most people do in an entire day.” (or something similar) So one morning got up an actually paid attention to what happened before 9am. You are right. A lot happens before 0900! It made me feel good about my day.

  2. Sadly, when my husband was in Afg I was ‘that wife’ that only seemed to focus on the bad, and a lot of times i vented to my husband about everything that had gone wrong. BUT!!! With this deployment I have decided to do things differently!! I always wake up and think of at least one positive thing. And when I do message/write to my husband I tell him how smoothly things are going. Even though, things have went south a couple of times I’d rather focus on the good! I find my self getting annoyed at some wives that seem to only complain about any and everything. I am also noticing a better attitude with our daughters! And to think, I am going through a pregnancy and will deliver the baby while he is gone, and yet I am still focusing on the good! Like what she’ll wear to make him smile, things I can do to make him feel like he is still here even though he is deployed!! I love this post!! I’m glad to know that not everyone looks at the bad. 🙂 Keep up the amazing writing!!!

  3. Thank you for that beautiful reminder. Passed your post along to my fellow Wardroom wives! It’s also just fun to laugh about everything that goes wrong! I was notorious for locking myself out of the house or car the day my hubby left on an underway. It became a ‘tradition’, so much so that my family members gave me spare keys, lock kits, and key hiders for Christmas that year 🙂

  4. I l-o-v-e, love this post. I think you’re so right!! It is a lesson we all need to work on. Venting is one thing and doing it negatively and repeatedly is another aka whining. Don’t get me wrong everyone needs a good vent session every now and then and even a good cry, but whining does get increasingly annoying.

    My husband has been gone for awhile now and yeah things here and there have gone wrong, but shoot, things go wrong when he is here hahaha! But during this deployment I have enriched some friendships that would have never been this great if we weren’t both alone and had an enormous amount of time to spend together. I think that is my biggest positive out of this deployment (so far) and I still have a ways to go.

    I also think, if we focus on the positive and not so much on the negative, time flies just a tiny bit faster. Maybe that’s just me but I think everyone should try it 🙂

  5. Well said!

    Not that I ever truly enjoyed his last deployment but I feel like I made the best out of a craptastic situation. The two times my car broke down (within weeks of his departure) I learned how to change my battery and how to get by on a bum starter until the mechanic could squeeze me in. I also got a taste for event planning and how to go about fundraising. I traveled by myself which was incredibly liberating and came back with some great stories and memories. All of these things really do overshadow the things that did go wrong (and there were plenty).

    Having the bed and TV remote all to myself were also nice perks.

  6. Great post! I am reminded that life isn’t perfect even when our spouses are home, so why should they be when they are gone? We all need to focus on the positive to set good examples for our kids. Going on month 10 and we are all alive, have all our digits, and haven’t missed work yet due to the deployment. This post is perfect for today! Thank you 🙂

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