Army Spouses Have No Rank

army wives rankArmy spouses have no rank.

It seems like this would be a statement that goes without saying. But lately, I’ve heard many stories about wives or spouses believing they wear the rank of their soldier.

And surprisingly, it hasn’t been just an officer vs. enlisted mentality as so many believe it always is.

Some of the most recent stories involve wives of enlisted people pulling rank on other wives of enlisted or wives of officers doing the same to other wives of officers. It looks like no side is immune to the poor decision of wearing rank.

We’ve All Been There When This Happened…

Sally is involved in some sort of situation and spouts off “Do you know who my husband is?!” Or even better “Do you know what rank my husband is?!”

Sally consistently introduces herself as the wife/spouse of (insert rank).

Sally can’t complete a sentence without letting you know about her soldier’s rank, how much he makes, or his newest promotion, or…well, you get the picture.

Sally lets you know not to be offended if she doesn’t speak to you in public because she’s a (higher ranking) spouse and you’re just a (lower ranking) spouse — and that one is my personal story! It happened to me within a few days of arriving at my husband’s first duty station.

And by the way, my apologies to anyone reading this who is named Sally – it was the first name that came to mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

Be Involved in His Career without Being His Career

As an Army spouse, getting wrapped up in your soldier’s career is very easy. It is, after all, one of the few career paths he can choose that involves the entire family. I can’t think of many corporations with family support groups or social gatherings for spouses only.

But whether you’re the General’s spouse or the spouse of a PV2, you’re just a spouse! No more, no less. Or, in the eyes of the Army, you’re a dependent (I hate that word, by the way!).

Own Your Own Identity

Your husband’s rank has no bearing on who YOU are as a person. When I had the title of director at work, my husband didn’t go around telling everyone he was a “Director’s husband.” Though that would have been kind of funny, now that I think about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Seriously, rank should never enter the equation. Sure, you are proud of your husband’s accomplishments, and rightly so. We all are. But they are just that…his accomplishments. If anyone receives special treatment for rank, it should be him because he is the one who earned it.

The best gatherings I have been at with other wives were the ones where no one knows the rank of anyone else’s husband. At a recent gathering, the subject was actually changed when a newer spouse brought it up, and I thought it was great. It reflected well on the ones who refused to discuss it.

Be Proud Without Being Obnoxious

Let’s all agree that we each have something (and someone) to be proud of as Army spouses. We all have reason to be equally proud because, no matter the rank, our spouse volunteered to serve our country and protect our freedoms. They all took the same oath, and they defend the same flag.

As Army wives, let’s all stand together, support one another, and let the word “rank” become taboo in our circles.

*Several women who are serving in the military have emailed me about this blog post. Rest assured, I realize you have rank, and you deserve to be respected for it as you have earned it.

In this case, replace every instance of “wife” with “husband” and vice versa. There is no disrespect intended towards female soldiers.

Image courtesy of Mary Vogt

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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64 Comments

  1. YAY! I think that the only time I ever brought up rank, other than asking who someone is (everyone was calling him by rank, and not name), was when I was talking to my FRG leader, and mentioned how proud I was that my DF got a promotion.
    Our FRG is pretty good about avoiding rank, unless talking about the duties involved. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I wanted stripes, I’d sign the contract!

  2. I was so glad to read this. My dh was active duty enlisted for 4 years, got out to pursue his masters degree and take care of his mom. We are now returning to active duty but dh will be an officer. I already have many friends whose husbands are enlisted and I was really worried that I would be forced to only associate with certain people (stupid I know). Thanks so much for easing my mind.

  3. I actually have a question. Yes, wives are supposed to have no rank. But when my husband tells me I shouldn’t become close to a wife of a higher ranking soldier because we can’t socialize when he’s not deployed, how do I react??

  4. I know this is a super old post but I still wanted to take the time to comment. I have to say that I am on the fence on this topic or possibly 50/50. My husband and I have been married for almost 16 years, when we met he was an E-3 and that was still pretty awsome to me I consider ALL military pretty awsome. Over the past 16 years I have spent countless nights sitting up making sure PT uniforms were clean and ready to go, making sure ACU’s were starched and ironed and when they had the shiny black boots I would spend hours trying to make them shine. Not because I HAD to do these things but because it helped HIM out. When he needed those points to get promoted I would sit and do his correspondence books for him.
    I have never been the type of person to meet someone and ask or even wonder what rank their husband is, I really don’t care and yes it drives me crazy when a woman walks around thinking and acting like she is something special because her husband is a “insert rank”. But I have to say, watching my husband go from an E-3 to most recently an E-8 and the 1sg of his company, I don’t own his rank but as a 1sg’s wife I now have a lot more responsibility that I never really wanted. I have always been a very shy person, I like people just fine but I am not the outgoing “hey lets have a tea party” kind of girl. I have always felt that I will hang out and talk to the people that I WANT to not because I HAVE to. Now all of a sudden after 16 years of staying under the radar I am getting invited to ice cream socials from the commanders wife and the Colonel has invited us to a dinner party this week that my husband says would be in his best interest if we go and when I say that it’s not really my thing I get this long speach from my husband about how I am now a 1sg wife and I need to support him.
    So no, I absolutely do not own my husbands rank and I think we all agree that we can’t stand “those types” of woman but I also think that we as Army wives do play a major part in helping our husbands get the job done and for that I think we have earned some respect. When I say “we” I mean each and every one of us.

  5. ok, I have another comment. I have read where a lot of people said how horrible it is when a wife introduces herself by saying I am “so and so’s wife” when they are at some type of military function. I have to say I don’t think that people do that because they are trying to “own their husbands rank”. If I go to a military funtion my husband has always introduced me to someone by saying “this is Lisa, sgt so and so’s wife” he does that because most likely I will be able to say “oh yeah, hi! I’ve heard a lot about you, nice to meet you”.
    I had this problem last week when I needed to take my husband his cell phone because he forgot it at home. In my mind as I was walking up to the door I was wondering if I should ask for “1sg LAST NAME” ask for the 1sg or ask for Rob. To me he is Rob, but everyone knows him as 1sg. So when I meet another soldier and his wife 99% of the time I am introduced as “Becky, 1sg’s wife” not because I am trying to own anyone’s anything but because everyone knows my husband as 1sg not as Rob and doesnt always know me. Now if I am at the playground with my kids and I meet another mom I will introduce myself as “Becky” and the topic of rank would NEVER come up.

  6. I wear a pin for dress blues on one of my winter jackets just to represent my husband b/c I’m very thankful for him

  7. As a husband of an active duty women and being myself retired I would like to say that we having no rank and some that might are all team members in the successes of our spouses and our spouses units. Do not discount the great sacrifices of the spouses of all ranks.

  8. I look at this as the husband (in my case) wears the rank, and I don’t think I wear his rank, but without the support of myself, his family, and his battle buddies there is no way he would be where he is today in his army career. The whole army is based off the buddy system, and regardless we should all be there to support them mentally, and encourage them to push through.

  9. I believe every spouse has a very important role and responsibility. but my officer husband gave me a book shortly after we were married to guide me in my new role. He has been in the military for 23 years and when I read him your blog “Army wives have no rank,” he quickly said, “Tell her to go up to the General’s wife and say that to her, because Ooohh, yes they do!” I represent my husband and have learned the rules are different for officers and their spouses. Whether it should or not, that’s just the way it is. However, it doesn’t make anyone any “better” than anyone else. Actually, it makes me feel an added pressure that I did not have before we were married. Ironically, I don’t know many other wives and the ones I do, most are not officers. I’m glad rank is not relevant in the friendships I’ve made, but I must always be aware of the higher responsibility my husband has due to his rank and role in the Army, and therefore uphold that standard as well.
    Please continue to post your views, and allow us to comment freely. All of our spouses have given us that right and I greatly enjoy reading your blogs.
    TH

  10. I agree with Stacey, she’s right the wife has no rank. Do we whole heartedly support our husbands that have earned the rank, the answer is yes of course. However, should his wife introduce herself or be introduced by her husbands rank, no I do not. I find it appalling when I go to a army wife potluck and the conversation in the room is about the rank of their husbands. Hey, whatever happen to Hi I’m Sharon nice to meet you not Hello I’m the wife of Sargent first class. Its kind of disgusting if you ask me, I mean I earned a college degree I’m somebody, and because I’m married to a soldier all my accomplishments no longer exist (and now I’m officially defined by the rank of my husband). As far as upholding a certain standard due to the rank of our husbands. Really!!! shouldn’t we all as women uphold a certain standard for the sake of ourselves and not need our husband to bring home a (manner book) to teach us how to behave as a lady and law abiding citizen. I’m a proud wife and love my husband for choosing a career to protect our beautiful country. However, he earned his stripes and I stand behind him as he wear them proudly, but at the end of the day (Hello I’m Sharon).

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