- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Dear Ms. Vicki:

My husband and I have two children. We fell madly in love in college when he was in the ROTC. I didn’t want him to join the military, as I didn’t want to be part of the military culture and I was afraid of him having to fight in a war.

The current war has taken a toll on our marriage. During my husband’s first deployment, I felt isolated on base. When he returned, we didn’t talk and were barely intimate. I wanted to leave then, but did not.

My husband was redeployed and was severely injured in combat. I have been there for him during his rehab. However, I have to be honest, it’s hard for me to look at him, even though many of his burns and scars are much better.

Ms. Vicki, I am too young for this. I did not ask for this. I love my husband, but I am not in love with him. I’m in love with someone else. My mother tells me I am wrong and I need to stand by my husband. I want what’s best for him, but I don’t want to be married to him any longer. Am I wrong for wanting a divorce? - Wife Wounded from War

Dear Wounded Wife:

I have received many letters from spouses who are coping with the effects of war and how it has changed their husbands or wives. You are not alone.

I can see that your heart is not in this marriage and it hasn’t been for some time. So what do we do when love is not enough?

While I am a big proponent of saving marriages, it sounds like you are no longer willing to put in the time or effort to make this marriage work. I also think your husband deserves someone who will love him and not look at him with pity or disgust, and you can’t give him that.

It’s time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your husband. He must know the truth if you are going to divorce him. I recommend marital counseling, family counseling and individual counseling for you both. You can check with Tricare or Military OneSource, as they can connect you with a counselor in your community. If you are on post or near one, you also can contact Social Work Service or Behavioral Health Services for counseling support.

Your husband already should have case managers who are following him through the Warrior Transition Program or the Warrior Transition Unit. Please encourage him to talk to them. I know they will understand.

Your children need to see their parents handle this with them as the first priority.

Lastly, you said you are in love with someone else. If I were you, I would let your sheets cool off. As the adage goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

Dear Ms. Vicki:

After 20 years of marriage, I’ve filed for divorce. It was always a bad marriage, but I think I stayed in it because I was in the Army and was gone a lot.

My wife is turning our children against me and telling them I’m the cause of our happy home breaking up. I’m petitioning the court for full custody because I love my children very much, and because I refuse to give her one dime of my money, not even for child support.

My wife wants half of everything I have - my investments, my retirement, cars and even the $500,000 house. I think she’s lost her mind. She never worked, but she says she deserves half because she supported me in my career. Ms. Vicki, I could have made it this far without her. She was a leech and she knows it. I want all wives to know that supporting your man still means you can get a job. If you don’t contribute financially, don’t expect anything financially if the marriage does not work. - I Ain’t Paying a Darn Thing

Dear Ain’t Paying:

While I understand that some people choose to divorce their spouses, I truly believe the couple must be in a healthy place emotionally to have a civil divorce. From your tone, it doesn’t sound as if you are in a healthy emotional place. You sound very angry and resentful, and I think your actions will only lead to bitterness and malice. You should be civil with your wife, even if you are doing so for the sake of your children. They don’t deserve to be a part of a messy divorce.

I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t try to give legal advice. Whether your wife deserves anything is not my call to make. The judge will decide.

I would suggest that you speak to a professional counselor about your anger toward your wife and your marriage. It’s obvious your marriage is over, but remember you are divorcing your wife, not your children.

Vicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Her column, Dear Ms. Vicki, runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail: click here.

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