Many military spouses are stay-at-home-wives. For some of us, that’s perfect, but for others, it can be a source of frustration or judgement.
Before we discuss that, I’ll set the stage by saying I’m talking about a scenario where the family is financial stable with one income. Not one where the working spouse is struggling to make ends meet, because in that case, all hands should be on deck regardless of what is your heart’s desire.
Back to the discussion–
There are several reasons we don’t like to be just housewives that have nothing to do with whether or not we like being housewives. We are judging ourselves and each other, but should we be? Here’s why we have a hard time seeing ourselves as just homemakers.
You Don’t Want People to Think You’re A Dependa
We feel badly about not working or make a point to say we work because we want to make sure we aren’t categorized as the good-for-nothing dependa.
What is a dependa? Short for “dependapotamus” or “dependasaurus,” a dependa is a spouse that is more of a liability than an asset. This person may be uneducated but a know-it-all, home all day, but the house is a wreck, brings nothing to the table but won’t let spouse go out with friends, only good for having kids, claims spouse’s rank, with the nerve to have an attitude.
Naturally, we don’t want anyone thinking this is who we are, and we don’t want to have anything in common with them. (Unfortunately, this is how a lot of civilians think of military spouses.) So we’re uncomfortable not working because we’re concerned about that judgement.
The thing is, anyone you’re trying to prove yourself to will be able to determine your character as they get to know you better, so we don’t need to be so self-conscious about not working. What’s that? They don’t have time to get to know you? Well, their opinion doesn’t matter anyway.
You Don’t Want to be Dependent on Anyone
Some of us aren’t comfortable being homemakers because we don’t want to be dependent on a spouse. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s past experiences, but we just can’t be vulnerable in that way to let someone else take care of us.
Not wanting to be trapped in a situation or left stranded is a very valid concern. You always have to make sure you are secure.
But if you aren’t in that particular situation, consider this: is it just baggage that is stopping you from putting your trust in your spouse? Or could it be that allowing yourself to depend on your spouse is a step toward oneness?
Many women find themselves in financially unstable or abusive situations. They have good reason to make sure they have a leg to stand on. I’m not talking to those people.
The need to accept my husband “taking care of me” was something I had to come to terms with. My husband’s love for me wasn’t conditional, and to fully submit to marriage, I had to accept the risks that come along with fully trusting another person.
You Think Money Defines Your Worth
In our society, a lot of things falsely revolve around money. Surely money does make the world go round, but it shouldn’t be the crux of our identity.
The shame attached to “just being a homemaker” is born of a false belief that economic value is the only way to determine worth. We feel like we’re worth less if we don’t work because we don’t make money. But there are so many more aspects to value than economic buying power.
First of all, working inside your home is contributing. There are so many roles or duties a stay-at-home spouse can perform that many pay someone to do. And some that are priceless.
We all want to turn in to a peaceful home at the end of the day, and that’s what homemakers can provide. It’s so easy to forget the services we are actually providing.
More keenly, we want people to know we have ambition, and we don’t want to be seen as less than the complex individuals we are. But ambition isn’t exclusively attached to money and career.
There are several ways to pursue a goal or build forward momentum that doesn’t have to do with earning potential. Our society tends to couple success and income when they are definitely not one in the same. It’s one of the reasons socialites get heavily involved in charity, or white people get consumed by Crossfit. It’s why religion can provide the substance of someone’s entire life. Because there are several ways to experience success. Wanting more and pursuing money one in the same.
You can still have passion and purpose without being in active pursuit of a career or having career ambitions at all.
But You Can Just Be Where You Are Without the Judgement
It may be necessary to be able to support yourself or make sure people know you aren’t a Dependa, but you don’t have to let being a housewife mean anything about you that isn’t who you are.
Don’t resent the fact you don’t have the career you want. Every destination comes with a journey. There may be several stops and detours before you get to where you want to be.
And don’t judge yourself or others for wanting to be at home. Enjoy the benefit of not having coworkers you don’t like and team meetings to attend. Enjoy the simplicity it brings even though making a home can still be hard work.
The resistance created from resentment and shame keeps us from seeing who we truly are or want to be.