How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

I love my life, my family, and my husband. But it occurred to me that I had lost something significant to me. I lost myself– I abandoned my independence when I married into the military. I want– no, I need to write this post for me. This revelation is essential for me and other military spouses who have put their personal goals on hold to support their spouse’s career. This post is a call to action that I need to stay relevant inside my military marriage even though I’m a military dependent. And pursue goals and ambitions that have little or nothing to do with my soldier.

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20170816_133649-1024x768 How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only
  1. Military Dependent in More than Name Only
  2. How to be a Good Military Spouse
  3. Stay True to Yourself
  4. Change is Inevitable
  5. Stay Relevant, Stay Employed
  6. Don’t Neglect Your Credit.
  7. Pay Yourself First
  8. Keep Your Skills Up
  9. Stay Connected
  10. Renegotiate When Necessary

How to Stay Relevant Inside a Military Marriage

Military Dependent in More than Name Only

First of all, nothing or no one, especially not my husband, has taken anything away from me. I relinquished my independence whole-heartedly, thinking that is what I needed to do to be a better-than-average military spouse.

How to be a Good Military Spouse

Is Not What I Thought it Would Be

The military refers to spouses as dependents. Moving so often has been an adventure I don’t regret. However, it has made it difficult to maintain continuity in employment, relationships, service, etc. And once I figured that out, I realized I needed to make several changes to my life that make me more relevant inside my marriage and the person I once aspired to be. I hope it’s not too late.

Some Examples on How to Stay Relevant: Get involved in your community and find ways to make significant contributions at home and elsewhere.

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How to decorate your military home when you move every two to three years.

black-woman-in-braids-and-yellow-dress-looking-into-the-distance How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

The Turning Point

Stay True to Yourself No Matter What

I remember having a conversation with a friend and thinking I was talking to her husband. She is an intelligent person, fully capable of forming her own opinions. Later that day, amidst a different conversation, I relayed a viewpoint, shared by me but articulated in my husband’s words. And not my own. Over the next few days, I became conscious of how I, too, had conscripted many of his opinions, and the sheer number of times I invoked his name amazed me.

This acknowledgment made me aware of how many things I have given up in the name of my marriage. I had stopped growing. And when I mentioned it to my hubby, he confirmed my suspicions. I was no longer an equal partner. I had become a military dependent in more Than name only.

woman-working-in-a-coffee-shop How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

Change is Inevitable

Don’t Get Too Comfortable.

We all change as we get older. And that includes values and priorities. But it also includes our physical appearance too. Years ago, he joked that if I gained a lot of weight, I wouldn’t be happy. It turns out he was laughing, but not kidding. And this created some tension between us.

Don’t get too comfortable, but give yourself a break. Staying fit is in your soldier’s job description. I will admit it’s easy to lose control due to the stresses associated with military life. But it’s also essential to care for yourself– not for him or your kids. It’s necessary for your personal growth.

But what happens when you don’t? I was hurt because, in my mind, I hadn’t changed— my weight did. It’s been a constant battle, and I want to share, but not here. And not right now. Let’s just say it took a lot of tears and some yelling and screaming to realize you can’t lose weight for someone else. It will only work if it’s important to you and for you.

Some Examples on How to Stay Consistent: Stay physically active, find a workout partner.
Women-in-Travel- How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

Stay Relevant, Stay Employed

I’m at a party, and someone asks me what I do. I am a stay-at-home wife. I also volunteer and blog about travel. Steven chuckled and bit his lip. I work so she can travel, he added. Everyone, including him, shares a cautious laugh. I smirk and take a sip of the chilled wine in my hand. I was realizing immediately that the laughter was not with me but at my expense. However, what he wanted to say was that I’d been at home far too long.

Yes, it’s difficult to cultivate a career as a military spouse. But it’s not impossible, and if I had it all over to do, I would never have stopped working.

Some Examples: Communicate expectations. When you have value, you have control.

Don’t Neglect Your Credit.

When I married my soldier, it made sense to pool our money into the same accounts. We both had credit accounts that we added to each other as authorized users. Without my help, we wouldn’t have been able to buy our house. However, when I stopped working, I made the mistake of closing my accounts because I didn’t have any income. That was a mistake because it affected my credit score. And it will take quite some time for it to bounce back.

Some Examples: Get your free annual credit reports, setup credit monitoring on your USAA account.

Pay Yourself First

Finances play a large part in a healthy marriage. One of my favorite pieces of advice from my mother was always to pay yourself first. No matter how much you make, put some aside for a rainy day fund. Treat this fund just like a bill. But don’t dip into bills. Keep it separate from everything else. Having this cache of money is empowering and will allow you to make decisions based on want and not need in the future.

Some Examples: Plan for financial independence, and keep your credit cards and savings account, set up automatic savings on your USAA account.

black-woman-teaching-online How to be a Military Dependent in Name Only

Update Your Resume and Skills Regularly

Technology has changed the job search for military dependents, as well as the way we work. There are so many ways we can contribute to the global marketplace. But to do so, we must establish goals for personal growth and development. So we need to keep our resume and skills updated to take advantage of the opportunities.

Some Examples: Subscribe to military Fb groups, create a profile on USAJobs.

A Soldier’s Wife Life

Stay in Touch with Friends

It takes some effort to stay in touch with you’re both friends when you’re bouncing all around the globe. But I cannot emphasize this enough. They will be your accurate compass on this marriage journey and as a black military spouse, the lack of diversity can be profound.

My circle of friends hasn’t changed much over the last twenty years. A few, but not many, have not stayed in touch. We write, call, and visit each other as often as we can. But like me, change has not been a stranger to them either. And while some marriages have dissolved, we remain committed to each other, no matter how many miles and years separate us.

Some Examples: girls’ trips, visiting during move transitions, Zoom and virtual wine-downs, letters, and social media.

Renegotiate the Marriage Contract

Components of a Healthy Marriage

Military dependents is an army term and not a lifestyle. People inevitably grow. Not unlike any other marriage, military or not, couples must communicate effectively. And although you hope you continue to grow in the same direction, it doesn’t always happen. However, your independence is a crucial component of a healthy military marriage. So when this occurs and the wedding is still salvageable, it might be time to discuss your new personal goals and objectives and look for some common ground to achieve them.

Some Examples: working part-time, homesteading while your spouse serves overseas, paying for a housekeeper, babysitter, or food service.

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  1. Madelaine

    Thank you for sharing your experience, I can totally relate. It’s been an uphill battle but a rewarding one. I love the tips you shared! Great point about staying up to date with things you love. I just started doing that again this year and it really helped me feel relevant again.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you Madelaine, I woke up this morning feeling exposed. I don’t usually write such personal things about myself or my marriage. So I can’t begin to tell you I feel relieved that you found the post useful and could relate.

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