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I Don’t Mind Being A Dependent

When you marry someone in the military, you take on a variety of different titles. Military spouse, “finder of PT clothes at 4 am”, PCS master, holder of all the important forms…the list goes on and on. But perhaps the most controversial is the D-word: dependent. It, along with the shortened version “dependa,” has come to represent a lot of negative traits, so much so that many military spouses hate being called a dependent.

The phrase “I’m more than just a dependent” has become a bit of a battle cry for military spouses intent on developing their own identity, separate from being a service member’s spouse. And I get it: we are all more than just who we married and to only be classified and described by that one aspect of our life can be frustrating. For example, in addition to being a military spouse, I’m a business owner, a non-profit communications professional, a dog mom, a daughter, a friend and so on. I’m more than just a dependent.

But at the end of the day, I am a dependent and I don’t mind that.

That’s right: I don’t mind being called a dependent. While I certainly don’t love the negative connotations that come with that title, I do recognize it as being accurate.

As proud as I am of my independence, I do depend on my husband and have even before the military called me a “dependent”.

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Yes, I do my own things: have hobbies, friends, sources of happiness beyond my marriage. Yes, I make my own money. Yes, I could live a very full life without him. After all, I did before I met him!

But a marriage is more than a financial transaction and I depend on my husband for so much more than his paycheck.  I depend on him for emotional support: for a hug after a really bad day or after a really good one, for a soft place to land when I’m upset, for a idea sounding board. I depend on him for encouragement, for help around the house, for killing the bugs, for making dinner when the day has been too long.

I definitely depend on my husband. But he depends on me too.

He depends on me to handle things while he’s deployed, to rub his back when he’s stressed, to keep track of admin tasks, to offer emotional support when work is hard.

This mutual dependence is the case in every relationship and no one bats and eye. Just because the military puts a label on it, me depending on him isn’t suddenly a bad thing. I’m ok with being a dependent.

Does being called a dependent bother you? Why or why not?

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