Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beyond Place Settings and Receiving Lines: Ten Things the Commander's Wife Wishes She Could Tell You

My favorite quote from the book "Well- Behaved Women Seldom Make History" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
This sign sits in my home office.

Part One of a Two Part Series...
Several years ago I was asked to give a protocol presentation to a coffee group. Since there is more written about protocol than you can discuss in 10 years I decided to take a different approach. I asked all of my friends who were spouses of brigade and division commanders, other senior officers, and senior NCOs ... if they could give one piece of social advice to the spouses in their unit, what would it be? This is the result. I have briefed this many times and, believe it or not, I have spouses who want to argue some of the points. 
You would think this would be common sense but you'd be surprised!
At any rate, agree or not, these are the results of my poll and I will say that I concur with them all.  I love the saying above and I do believe that it is possible to be "well-behaved" and express yourself creatively. 

 10.  ALCOHOL...please watch the consumption of it. Nothing is as uncomfortable at an official social event as an intoxicated spouse (or Soldier).  There is nothing pretty about a drunk...and it will be remembered and these days most likely photographed and posted on all sorts of social media.  That will follow you, and your spouse's career, forever.
9.  SOCIAL MEDIA and dear friend Gina always says, "As an Army spouse there are things you want to say and things you get to say." Figure out which is which and be very careful about what you post, text, tweet, pin, tag...ect.  "Water and words are easy to pour but impossible to recover", goes the old proverb. Gossip of any type should never be tolerated by any of us or the spouses in our units.  We can never know the road someone walked to bring them where they are in life, it's not for us to judge, and certainly not for us to broadcast on any type of social media.
8.  STAY IN YOUR LANE....spouses do not hold rank. (unless of course they do, then that's another list!) Admittedly, the Army asks much of spouses because of their Soldier's rank or job but under no circumstances do spouses have authority over military personnel...EVER. 
We can, and should, form a working relationship with our Soldier's personal staff and/or rear detachment but our relationship should be one of cooperation and respect. These Soldiers (and their spouses) are never under our command nor should they ever be threatened or warned as if they were. Along the same note, while it is wonderful to be proud of our spouses it is equally as wonderful to be humble. Talking about rank, evaluations, rates of promotion, or "who you know" is distasteful.
7.  COFFEE GROUPS...If your unit has a coffee group and you participate you really should take a turn hosting.  If you're not comfortable hosting in your home it is certainly acceptable to make arrangements at a restaurant or other venue. (Or outside under that beautiful chandelier!) However, since you are the hostess for this event you should provide something for the group. A round of drinks, appetizers, small favors, something that puts your signature on the event, just as if you had opened your quarters.  Everyone will be so appreciative, especially the commander's spouse!
6. CHILDREN...the generally accepted rule is that children over the age of 6 months should not attend social functions that do not specifically state that children are welcome. 
Never bring children of any age to a formal. Never bring children to evening events such as Hail and Farewells or coffees unless they have been deemed acceptable for families. Not all events are appropriate for children! 
Never ask to bring children to a unit social function, especially in someone's home. This puts the hostess in an awkward position.  If no sitter can be found it's best to make your regrets with an explanation. This gives the hostess the opportunity to invite your children or to let you know that she looks forward to seeing you at another event.  

Well, this does it for Part One! If you're interested in more on Quarters One you can follow us at
'Til next time...
Duty First!


  1. Great list! One think I hate are Hail and Farewells at bars. It is so hard to find a new babysitter everywhere you go, let alone a babysitter when you are brand new to an area AND being Hailed!

  2. I know how hard that can be Ashley! Hopefully, your unit has lots of opportunities to get together and your post has a great spouses club or moms' group you can participate in! Shand :)