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Army Wives

Posted by Robin Abrahams  September 9, 2011 10:42 AM

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I read Tanya Biank's excellent Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage this week. It was a long overdue read -- Tanya has interviewed me before (once on compliments and once on overall rudeness) and I've meant to read her book for a long time. 

In the book, she details the inner monologues of two Army wives after they have been informed of the death of family members. Twice, the women's thoughts turned almost immediately to the state of their housekeeping. Tanya writes, 

It may seem strange to outsiders that having a house out of order would be such a pervasive and prevalent thought among Army wives in a moment of horror, but it is. Psychologists may have their own interpretations, but I think that Army culture and expectations within that culture have a lot to do with it. Army couples like to put their best foot forward at all times. A soldier's family and the neatness of his homes are all reflections upon the soldier, who himself is expected to be orderly and disciplined. Army people never forget dirty neighbors. 
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Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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