Perhaps the first change indoctrinating you into military life happens immediately after marriage. Your new spouse gets you entered into a system called DEERS, and magically you are then called a “Dependent.” Being entered into this system makes you officially a spouse in the eyes of the government with regards to receiving the benefits of this lifestyle…the ever important military ID card, healthcare, access to the base, etc…The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the noun “dependent” as “one that is dependent (relying on another for support).” For the record, I find it highly offensive that we spouses are called “dependents.” Allow me to elaborate…
In the most precise definition of the word, some of us fit M-W’s definition since we may be financially dependent upon our active duty person for income since we don’t work; HOWEVER, I know a good many spouses who maintain their own careers and make higher incomes than the active duty member. Hey, no one ever said, “Join the military, get rich,” right? The agent who helped us sell our last house, the dermatologist, the ophthalmologist, the attorney, the mortgage broker, the engineer, the marketing guru…..these professionals most certainly command higher incomes than their Sailors! So, in these types of relationships there is clearly no one who is dependent, financially speaking.
Also, as the spouse of a service member, we carry unique burdens. Depending upon, of course, your own cultural norms and division of labor within your family, there are some roles and duties that tend to fall to the wife. (I’m a wife, so this is written from the female perspective, but can certainly also apply to stay at home husbands!) Very often, the wife is the primary caretaker of the Littles, is more likely to be a stay-at-home parent, does most of the daily household upkeep, ensures bills get paid, etc. Now, imagine doing all of this with a sick child. Now, imagine doing all of this while taking college courses. Now, imagine doing all of this and ferrying your Littles around to soccer, gymnastics and cheerleading before getting dinner on the table and finishing homework. Now, imagine doing all of this ALONE. (Are you exhausted yet?)
Lastly, add to all of this, maintaining a relationship with a spouse halfway around the world, maintaining a relationship with his family, making sure he has the money to pay his mess bill onboard the ship, and allowing somewhere in the budget a little spending money for his few-and-far between liberty opportunities. Oh yeah, and maintaining personal sanity, too. Let’s not forget that!
Does it sound like we’re dependent to you? I’d more likely say we exemplify independence! Or maybe M-W’s definition of “stalwart” describes us best…“marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind, or spirit.” Yeah, I like one.
So, no matter whether you command attention in the courtroom, wield a stethoscope, or hoist a diaper bag on one side and a toddler on the other, ROCK IT OUT! You be You, and be proud of all that you take on in support of your service member’s career!
Please, tell me what awesome things you do that make you independent and stalwart…I’d love to hear about you! Please comment below and subscribe for more…
Cheers and Love,