I’ve seen some really classy military spouses in my time as a military wife and military girlfriend. And I do mean classy in a literal, non-sarcastic way. They seem to have it together (mostly). They know the rules of military life like the back of their hand.
Meanwhile I’m over hear in the corner secretly wishing there was a handbook for all this stuff. I just want to keep it all straight, and I definitely don’t want to piss anyone off or get my husband in trouble.
Over the past few years, I’ve humbly learned a little bit about what it means to be a military spouse with manners—classy. And I hate to admit that I’ve learned a few of these things by messing up the rules (regularly). Good thing people seem to have a bit of grace if you don’t always know what you’re doing.
This list doesn’t contain every single best etiquette practice, but it’s the basics. Here are a few things classy military spouses know well and stick to in military life:
They don’t wear gym clothes on base unless they are actually going to the gym.
Yeah, you can’t go to Dunkin Donuts on base to grab a coffee in your gym clothes. Not that I ever got yelled at for doing that. Unfortunately, you can’t go to the commissary either or anywhere else on base for that matter in your gym clothes. Rule of thumb: save your gym clothes for the gym and your jammie pants for your home.
- Understanding the Military Commissary Dress Code
- 7 Dress Code Violations That Can Get You Thrown Out of Buildings On Base
They dress classy, not trashy.
Excuse the blunt language here, but it is important to keep your butt cheeks tucked away and your cleavage within reason. Save it for a nice night with your husband at home, not for the whole military community to see. Don’t stress, pearls and fancy wear is not required. Jeans and a t-shirt works just fine.
They show respect while the National Anthem is playing.
An important way to show honor and respect. Gum chewing, talking, or smoking during the National Anthem is best avoided.
When their service members are in uniform, they save the kissy-kissy for later.
Unfortunately, as attractive as your service member looks in his uniform, PDA is prohibited. There are definitely situations when it is overlooked and very conservative hand-holding or a kiss is okay. But for the most part, it’s best to refrain in public. In private is a whole different story.
They don’t try on a service member’s uniform, take a picture just for funsies and post in on Facebook.
This sounds like a fun idea. Well, at least it does to me. But this is considered highly disrespectful to do this. Truth: No one should wear the service member’s uniform except for the man or woman who earned it.
They save the service member’s PT gear for the service member only.
Yes, you have to wear your own clothes to the gym.
They know to walk on the left side while he’s in uniform.
This leaves the right side available for him to salute if needed, and just good practice overall.
They stop for colors and the raising / retiring of the flag.
So, so important. If you hear colors or see the raising or retiring of the flag, politely stop and face the flag with your hand over your heart. This also includes if you are driving in your vehicle.
They avoid conversing about politics, sex and religion at special events.
Well, this is just a good rule in military life and everywhere else.
They know the “No walk and talk rule” for service members in uniform.
Service members are not supposed to walk and talk on a cell phone or walk and eat or drink while in uniform. This is good to know if you are ever wondering why your spouse won’t answer his phone. Personally, this hasn’t come up too much. Usually when a service member is in uniform, they are sitting down to eat and drink anyway. Car eating is considered okay at some installations.
They learn to recognize ranks and the proper way to address them.
This is on an as needed basis. There are a lot of variations between the different branches, so my best advice is simply to ask your service member about this one.
They RSVP to formal invites and write thank you notes.
This is just common sense. Hopefully.
Want more on military life?
- How to Talk to Your Service Member Post Deployment
- The Real Reason Being a Military Wife is So Hard
- 31 Best Military Wife Quotes for Encouragement
- 43 Awesome Tips Every New Military Wife Needs to Know
What’s your best etiquette rule for milspouses? Let’s chat in the comments!
I came across this as I was looking for “rules” for military wives behaviors. Interesting, and I learned alot. I didn’t however find what I was looking for. Maybe someone can point me in the right direction? An older woman I know was threatened, bullied and told to kill herself because it would the world happier, on a couple sites on facebook, by a military wife (mw) with very young children. This mw also blasted out the older woman’s address along with many f and c words. Many of us were appalled and a police report was made, but sadly the police said there was nothing they could do. The mw does not live on base (af) Is there something to be done? Thank you all!
Forgot to mention the reason the mw did all the above. Her father moved his travel trailer onto the property where the military family is renting. For his “hobby” he enjoys flying his drone by peoples properties and windows all hours of the day and night. The older woman could no longer take it, and the father wouldn’t stop, so she made 2 police reports with other neighbors. Since then, the father and his daughter (mw) have been harassing and threatening the older woman in retaliation.
There are dirtbags everywhere…
Andrea come see about me
Exactly. She probably counts down the days until THEY retire. ?
I think this article may be dated, but here in Guam we wear flip flops and leggings/tank tops everywhere. Literally everyone does it. It’s almost weird to see a spouse NOT in gym clothes lol! That’s pretty much the only issue I have with this list. The slut-shamey attitude towards leggings/gym clothing is ridiculous. If I can wear yoga pants to the gym on base around other military people, I can wear them to run into the commissary. And I checked – we don’t have a list of “acceptable attire” anywhere but the gym.
Slut-shamey attitude?? No, seeing someones ripples on their butt cheeks because their thin leggings are so tight is what’s ridiculous. I’m in N.C. and the same is true – it’s weird seeing a spouse NOT son gym clothes, and when I do see those spouses who dress appropriately and respectfully it’s refreshing.
Now as she said, every base and branch is a little different. I know that on the west coast there is more leniency towards summer clothing than on the east coast (even though it gets just as hot here, it’s a Cali thing I guess).
Either way, it is ultimately your military member’s career in jeopardy, so go ahead and wear what you will and keep that bad rap increasing for the rest of us. I hope your EAS date is near.
His career in jeopardy? Could you be any more dramatic? Hoping someone’s EAS date is near I really do hope it is yours because you are showing some very unsavory and unhelpful behaviors. As a military spouse myself I think it’s imporant to help each other instead of pushing your own adgendas about how the world should be dressing on other spouses. God bless ?
I didn’t realize military wives are in some sort of special debutant-like club. Seriously, most of these rules are just common sense good behavior for people in general. I work as a civilian for DoD and grew up around military bases and definitely never worried too much about what I wore to the commissary. In general, I don’t believe in wearing pajamas in public, but yoga pants are the style and there is no reason why military wives shouldn’t be able to don a pair as they shop the glamorous aisles of the BX/PX. To suppose your husband’s CO is watching you and will derail his career accordingly is just a bit paranoid and self-important.
It’s called a code and respect. When you are at the Comms., Exchange, and other places on base you obey the codes/the rules.
Saying that military wives are “debutant-like” club is clearly showing your ignornace. Your “feelings” about the on-base rules shows your narcissism. You just do what you want ” ’cause I am the Queen…” hahaha! Feelings aren’t facts.
Why are you even on this blog if you’re not a military spouse???
It’s scary to know that you work for the DOD as you clearly don’t respect the rules.
God help this country with people like you working for it.
Wow, someone had a visceral, knee-jerk reaction to the mildest critique. I’m a narcissist, ignorant, and God help the country with people like me working for it?! 🤣. I can practically hear you snarling. Do you need a rabies vaccine? I didn’t argue military wives should walk around like slobs and flout rules (although clearly many do, given the term dependopatomi), just that most of the rules for etiquette here are not unique to military wives but common sense common courtesy in general—except the bit about yoga pants. That’s just the style nowadays and I highly doubt base rules prohibit military wives from wearing them to the commissary.
Yeah, I’m not a military wife myself, and I’m guessing neither are you, “Troy.”
Your blog is great. I just discovered it.
Here at Fort Gordon, GA I see guys wearing gym
attire at the Exchange and Comms. Guys
wearing their pants around their ass! Nothing
Standards are being lessened.
Yes I agree with you. I wear what I want and gave never thought twice about it. Wow! Some of the things these ladies are saying are absolutely ridiculous and from 1962! I mean come on! My husband has been in for 16 years and WOW. He is currently deployed and I had put third baby whule he is away. He will not meet baby until baby is 7 months. Please don’t tell me what I can and cannot wear to the commissary. What a joke this article is! Get a grip on reality people.
I am a widow of an Army lieutenant. On Veteran’s Day, I’d like to wear my husband’s field jacket, which does not bear his insignia. Is this improper?
Reading the article and reading through all of these, sometimes insane, comments. It is like some kind of sick cult. I came to the blog to see if maybe, just perhaps, I could stand to live on base. Well, that was cleared up real quick! Ladaies (and gentlemen), just because your spouse is active duty does not mean that the military also owns YOU. Live off base, don’t deal with ”mandatory fun” (your spouse can attend this with you or the kids!), don’t go all in for the military ball ridiculousness stuff, There is a life full of wonderful people all around that has NOTHING to do with the military. Even if your family is sent overseas, you DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE ON BASE/POST! (usually). Don’t do it. Don’t join the cult, dont let your spouses work life tell you how and what you can do or say or be!
I learned on my own what to do my ex served 3 years but I’m a granddaughter of a military man so I was raised on what to do so I just went with it and did just fine.