I’ll admit my guilty pleasure Facebook group is Dear Dependa II. It’s so crude, but yet so funny. But let’s face it. In all technicality, I am a dependa too! I depend on my husband to be the main bread winner and of our household. I depend on him for strength and confidence. And, I depend on him for his love and sacrifice. So yeah, I guess I’m just the biggest dependa of them all!
Okay, I’m totally joking. I know the term “dependa” means a wife who depends on their husband for everything and has no life goals other than bank on military benefits and sling their husband’s rank around like a proud boy scout and his new badge. I personally don't mind the 'milso' title because that is what I am. We often joke about me being a dependa and I think making light of a bad name is the kind of attitude + outlook you need in this life anyways!
I know it may come off as harsh, but I’m not quite sure where the expectation that military life is easy comes from. And I really don’t know who told them that you will be making bank and living this luxurious life of new cars every promotion, more money per kid you have, and Coach purses galore! The real military life is a bit of a rude awakening if you have that expectation.
I have picked up and left my family and friends, moving to places we would plant our roots, even if temporarily. I’ve learned to pack my life away in boxes, and be okay with leaving it in a storage container. Life as a ‘dependa’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and I think no amount of mental preparation will prepare you for this life. This isn't a woe is me, it's just how life is.
I don’t think any amount of advice, tips, and personal experiences can prepare you for that first night alone when he leaves for deployment. No amount of creativity or money you put in a care package, will make sending things overseas feel absolutely normal. You may have a little one and realize that time that is being missed, your spouse will never get back.
It is hard and remains difficult for a long time. Some wives can transition easier than others and that’s okay. This life can make you feel so lonely, and other times you will feel completely surrounded by an amazing community of others going through the same experiences.
Here is the thing about life as a dependa: we chose our life partners on factors completely separate from what they do as a career (most of us). We would love our husbands and wives and support them in whatever job they were in. But, let’s not forget being in the military isn’t really your typical job.
I have no shame in showing pride in my husband, because what he in particular does for our country and other people, is something to truly thank him for. Their jobs are dangerous, they go to the other side of the earth to defend our Homefront, and they do it all without the expectation of being thanked: it’s just their job. I don't mind putting my experiences and stories out there, because I know how many other spouses relate to them. It doesn't bother me one bit to be labeled dependa, as I know what I am truly and feel only pride and love for my husband; not his rank.
Living the military life has taught me valuable life lessons and personal growth. Being married to someone in the military takes a lot of patience, courage, and strength and while it is definitely not the "toughest job in the military to be a ___ wife", it isn't for the weak.
It is like any relationship, but you have added strains that most normal relationships hopefully don't endure. Extended separation, having to be responsible for your spouse when they have little connection/communication, and learning how to be alone while you are technically not alone are all hardships faced. But, you can do it. Don't let negativity trouble you and focus on what is most important in your life, and you'll survive and thrive in this military life just fine.
What is the most distinctive "life as a dependa" moment for you?
Thank you for stopping by The Strattons Blog! Here are snippets of my life, motherhood, and the military!