Ahhh, that word. If you’re involved in the military, you probably know this term. Once you marry an active duty member, you get a dependent ID. It’s so you can get on the base, it’s an insurance card; it covers all manners of sins. It also labels you as a dependent. And, if you’re like me, that immediately infuriated. But it’s true. I am dependent on my husband for a bunch of stuff. Even if I support myself financially (which I don’t since we had kids), I still take advantage of the benefits that being his dependent award me. So, because there is a… high-ish concentration of women who depend a little TOO heavily on their hubby, some people have coined the term Dependa. Personally, I like Dependapotomus so much better. It’s insulting because it’s saying you’re incapable of supporting yourself and it’s implying you’re fat, too. But, I like hippos. So the term amuses me for reasons I can’t explain.
Let’s discuss the reality of what is and is not a dependa (potomus)
Do you have a job? You’re not a dependa. Do you have kids at home and not in school ? Do you bust your ass to keep a clean house, teach your kids their ABCs, make dinner every night and pack a nice lunch for hubby? You’re not a dependa. Do you own more than one authentic, not used designer purse that you bought for yourself with a paycheck not yours? You probably ARE a dependa. Do you stay at home with no kids and no job and possibly just watch youtube videos all day and eat like, a ream of cookies in one sitting for lunch? Dependa. Do people joke that you’re a trophy wife? Probably dependa. Do you treat active Duty members whom your husband outranks like they’re your employees—ya know what? If you’re wondering if you do those things, you probably do and that makes you a big ole dependa. Nothing pisses people off more than a spouse wearing her husband’s rank. (That is, pretending HIS rank is yours. It ain’t.)
Who this Matters to and Why
Mostly it’s going to bug the people your hubby works with; so really, straighten out. If you didn’t already know this, let me share with you a big UGH part of being married in the military. It’s a close knit bunch. Which means a service member’s spouse can get a reputation. And that reputation can lead to “Don’t invite him, his wife is cray cray.” And that can lead to “He doesn’t really participate in a lot of squadron functions” and that can lead to “Isn’t involved in the community” and it reflecting poorly on his Performance report. And performance reports are used in promotions. So. Big ole dependa… you can actually have a hand in your husband getting passed over for promotion. If you ARE a dependa… that means he gets less money. (AKA YOU get less money.) So, staaaaahp.
The second group dependas bother is fellow spouses. There’s a lot of “You make me look bad!” hate. But, funny enough, there’s a lot of dependa-on-dependa hate. Because being a dependa is a lot like being crazy. You don’t KNOW you’re a dependa. So that’s a fun layer of added tension. There’s also a lot of jealousy here. (I imagine I’ll get some flack for this.) But women who work hard for the money (so hard for it honey) get, understandably, pissed off when there are women who don’t have to do that and then act MORE entitled.
All Active Duty
The last group who is bothered by it is definitely the most vocal: Active Duty. They’re often young, lower ranking; usually single. Wow, do they get pissed off at Dependas. Mostly because they’ve been told by one too many spouses what to do. And for that reason, I usually just let them go off on the dependa. They get told what to do and have to do it without bitching all day every day I their job. You think they need someone who doesn’t even work with them doing it, too? They had a shitty experience and they’re entitled to be pissed off. If your boss’s wife is a bigger dick to you than your boss and just because you don’t want to piss your boss off you have to bite your tongue and take it—you are entitled to call a person a dependa(potomus).
Things that get Confused for Dependa Traits
This confuses me to no end. I don’t earn any actual money. So every dollar I spend is my husband’s hard earned money. So when I spend $100 at Lowe’s, that’s his money. If I get the discount that’s 10%. So $10 off. $10 of my husband, an active duty service member, his money that I don’t have to spend. When he’s deployed, I have to buy a bunch of stuff for him. He send me to the store to get him stuff to send him. Why is it a dependa trait for me to use a military discount on stuff for his house? It isn’t. If it’s his money, then why shouldn’t HE save when his family spends it?
Some jobs aren’t transferrable. And in the military you move a LOT. So I have a friend who’s an equestrian. She trained horses and was damned good at it. She had a good paying job with a bright future. Then her hubby gets stationed in the middle of no where. She’s literally trained her entire life for this job. And there is no where within 100 miles of their new home for her to work. She took a part time job making very little just to relieve boredom, but spent a lot of time not doing a while lot of anything. And she’s still not a Dependa.
I mean… c’mon. If a person is chronically ill, she’s chronically ill. You can’t be a dick about that. But there’s a lot of that happening.
Stay at home Moms:
Eek, this is a touchy one. Because not all stay at home moms are Dependas. But some definitely are. If you’re a laid back mom, cool. So am I. I don’t helicopter. But that means I don’t always have a lot of hands on time with my kids. So I have time for other stuff. Which means, if I treat my stay at home mom gig as an actual job, I better do stuff.
So I cook and clean. (More the former than the latter if I’m being honest) I make lunches. Teach the kids things to set them ahead in school. Do laundry. (When it’s necessary. Not for like … fun.) I find ways to save us money. Make a bunch of crap from scratch. I stay on top of a strict budget that I write and keep in touch with his family for him. I change the sheets every week even though I don’t think it’s necessary because we’re not gross people but my husband likes the feeling of clean sheets, so I do it. Ugh.
I hate pretty much all of those tasks, by the way. Of my husband and I, he definitely likes his job better than I do mine. But he makes more money in his career than I did in mine. And the daycare situation where we had our first child was abysmal. So rather than have me work to pay for childcare and drop our kid off with possible felons, we opted for me to stay at home. So I’m not a dependa.
Though, I suppose I wouldn’t know, would I?
Why it’s OK Dependas Exist
This is actually a no-brainer if you think about it. It’s not just military spouses that take advantage of their husbands. Anyone remember Clara from The Guild? Pretty sure she’d fit the same criteria, sans the spouse. And dear Lord, basically any housewives of ____ cast member. Or rich wives all over the world. Mob wives. And seriously, are you gonna mess with mob wives, now? Nope. So why are we singling out military wives just because they get free (and shitty) healthcare? I’d say just go back to calling them gold diggers, too, but I’m a pretty big fan of specific and descriptive language. So my Ruling is: I’ll allow it. With reservation.
Here’s the biggest reason it’s ok. Because if it weren’t ok, the husband would be the one to fix it. Not you. It’s not your marriage. If that is the dynamic that works for them, let it be. Some men love to be pushed around, some like to spoil their wives, some like to get spanked with a 14” black dildo.
It. Isn’t. Your. Business.