In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day: A Military Spouse Is Anything But Dependent (A Reader Favorite)

This column ran in the Periscope Newspaper, Kings Bay, GA

To see this previously posted and the comments click here.

This Column is Dedicated to The Spouses, “Those who Silently Serve.”

Anything But Dependent

Anything But Dependent is the title I chose for this weekly spouse column. I came up with this title because of the stereotype we are given. Our civilian counterparts have labeled us as dependent, needy, and whiney.  I am normally pretty reserved when someone has views different from my own.  I respect them, keep an open mind, and try to gain perspective from listening to others.  But this is something that I can’t keep quiet about.  I even caught myself snapping at a very rude woman in line behind me at the store once.  She was talking about living in “this town” and how she was tired of “these lazy military wives” to a friend on the phone.

She was referring to an exhausted looking woman in pajama pants who was in front of us holding her credit card and a Military ID.  While I waited for her to end her conversation, thoughts flew through my mind.  Who was the woman in the pajama pants? I wonder what would bring her to the store at 7:45AM.  Was she sick with no one to help her?  Was she getting something for her child that couldn’t wait until later?

I then started thinking of all the times that I have gone to the store in sweat pants and my hair tied in a knotty mess just to get the much-needed medicine for my children or myself.  So many thoughts were rushing through my brain that it made my face heat up.  The women hung up her phone and I turned to her and said, “I couldn’t help but over hear your comment about military wives, I just wanted to let you know that you are putting a very negative stereotype on a large and amazing group of women.”  She replied, “There’s nothing amazing about women that sit around waiting on their husbands and having babies!” 

Oh, no she did not just say that,” I thought to myself.  It took all I had not to scream at this woman. I paid for my items and then I calmly turned and faced her eye to eye and said,” I am the wife of an active duty Navy man who protects your right to say whatever you want, but I will have you know that I don’t sit around and wait for him.  I have my own life, a job, two amazing children, and I get more done by 9 am than most women do in an entire day.  Maybe you should think twice before labeling someone you know nothing about”.  I then walked away without giving her the chance to reply.

I felt a rush of adrenaline and emotion.  Is that what people really think of the military wife?  I quickly came to the conclusion that this girl was just ignorant.  She doesn’t know any better.  How would she?  No one lies across their bed as a teenage girl dreaming of marrying the man of her dreams who will seldom be home.  I’m sure she doesn’t know the strength it takes to give birth while your husband is deployed or take care of a child all by herself night after night, not knowing when her next full night of rest may be.  This girl has never moved into a town she didn’t know and had to purchase a home or find a job by herself not knowing how long she will live there.  Only the women that have walked in the shoes know the challenges, obstacles, and extreme strength it takes to do all of this.

Military spouses are anything but dependent.  The military labels us as a “dependent” of our husbands.  And I understand what the military means by it. But, by the definition of the word itself, we are far from it.  My husband likes to say he couldn’t function in the Navy without me.  I’m his rock.  We are best friends and a team.  Sure my husband could have done this by himself, but he isn’t. The Navy did not issue me; therefore I’m not a necessity, right?  My husband would argue that one.  We believe that without each other, we wouldn’t be who we are today. We give credit to each other for all of our successes.  Nothing has been accomplished alone.  I’m sure that there might be a few salty men that disagree with the statement saying that their wife had nothing to do with their success and vice versa.  Maybe it’s true, but that is something I would happily and respectfully challenge.

With that said, there is a fine line between dependency and support.  I look to my husband for support, but I am not dependent.  I support my husband, but he is not dependent upon me.  We encourage, love, and respect each other.  And together, though sometimes very far apart, we take on the world one day at a time.

Military wives are strong, smart, resourceful, and can do anything that they put their minds to.  We could give MacGyver a run for his money.  As women, we need to find the strength within ourselves and not be discouraged by the word “dependent”.  This is where that cute childhood saying comes in. Anything boys can do, girls can do better.  Well, maybe not always better, but we can do it.  And while our husbands are away, we do it all and then some.  Although I admit, there are some things I wish my husband were here to do during the deployments.  An example would be that it is a well-known fact that my air conditioner and I are not friends.  My lawn mower and I go through angry spells and there are days that my trimmer won’t even talk with me.  Well, if talking was considered turning on.  And of course the biggest issue is that my best friend is deployed.

The bottom line is that we can run a household, have a career, find time to volunteer, raise a family, go to school, start a business, have time with our biological families and our Navy families, taxi our children around and so much more, but with one huge difference. Our husbands are serving in the military.  The worry, stress, and schedule add weight to everything above.  Be proud of your accomplishments.  You really are anything but dependent.

6 thoughts on “In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day: A Military Spouse Is Anything But Dependent (A Reader Favorite)

  1. Nice blog. The only thing I depended upon when my husband was at war (for the third time) was myself. And my computer. Writing kept me sane. I knew where the keyboard was every one of those sleepless nights. Where he was? Somewhere outside of the wire, in a place far beyond my control–Tiffany Cloud Olson, Author, Bestseller Sleeping with Dog Tags

  2. I have to say, as a new Navy wife, I have moments where I doubt my own strength. This column made me feel proud. Sometimes it gets tough, but I always make through. Thank you for such strong, encouraging words.

  3. Totally felt the anger when you were at the store… my blood was boiling when I read we are lazy. I have been a military spouse(Navy) for 18yrs. I live in a different state taking care of our house and 27 acres,raise 2 kids, pets and just finished college and work part time as a substitute teacher, volunteering any chance I get at the school… and I am one to go the store in my sweats and hair tied up and no make up. I probably can do circles around that lady on the phone in the store. Thank you for the post!

  4. Im a new Navy wife (been married almost 6 months now) my husband left 8 days after we got married to go back to his overseas duty station (where we met when I was AD.) I packed up the left over stuff from his parents house, all my stuff and moved to San Diego alone, (his next duty station.) I was at Costco the other day and some woman was complaining to her friend about how stuck up and lazy Navy wives are. It honestly took all I had to not do what you did. Thank you for standing up for us. Its not an easy job, it takes a strong woman to do what we do.

  5. I enjoy everyone of your blogs I have read. I am a Navy girlfriend and you share so much of your strength through your writing. It just reinforces wanting to be there for my boyfriend.

  6. Marie, I’ve not been in your shoes, but my daughter is married to a career army officer. I know it has not been a bed of roses for her, either. Both grandsons were born in Germany, no family nearby to help. With deployments and assignments out of state, expecially just before a new duty station, she’s had to deal with moving, lock-stock-and barrel to a new location alone, sometimes without prior housing arrangements. I am so proud of my daughter’s resourcefulness and aplomb during these trying times. I think she is the epitome of a milspouse and certainly has an I-Can-Do-It attitude where ever she goes. Kudos to you and your wonderful column. Keep up the good work.

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