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!