- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki:

I’ve been with my Marine boyfriend for eight years and we have two beautiful children. We love each other dearly. The only problem is that he never wants to talk about marriage. When I ask him when are we getting married, he always says next year.

He says his chain of command won’t support him being married because of his job and assignment location. He also feels it’s not fair for him to marry me because of all the deployments he has to do.

Our children think we are married and our daughter is always asking me to show her our wedding pictures.

But I feel like he is hiding me from the rest of the world. He doesn’t invite me to military functions. I can’t shop at the BX or the commissary. Our children get health insurance, but I don’t. It’s as if he has two lives, one with us and one with the Marines. I’ve followed him to three different duty bases. He once said he would try to get a house on base for us if I would lie and say I was a relative helping him raise his children. I told him I would not lie.

I’m ashamed for letting it go this far but feel like I’m too far out in the ocean to turn around. Ms. Vicki, do you think he will ever marry me?

- My Marine Won’t Marry Me.

Dear Marry:

I won’t be coy with you. No, I don’t think he will ever marry you, and yes, you are right, you have let this charade relationship go on too long.

Your Marine’s chain of command can’t stop him from getting married. While I sympathize with you, I must hold you responsible for what has happened, too. My grandmother used to say, “A man won’t buy the cow if you give him the milk for free.” Well, you’ve given him the cow and the pasture too. He is much too comfortable with this situation and everything is according to his liking. You’re miserable because you have been in hiding for the past eight years and now you have two children to consider. Your children think you and their father are married. So who will be the one to tell your children the truth? I’m sorry, I just think this is a big mess.

If it were just you, I would say do what you want to do. However, I think it’s a different thing when there are children involved.

You can always say you won’t follow him to his next assignment. In the meantime, you need to start making provisions for you and your children. You need to have a valid way of supporting the three of you. I also think you need to lean on a trusted family member or friend who could also give you some support and sound advice.

Yes, I think you have some major decisions to make. My gut feeling is that you will write me three years from now telling me eight years have turned into 11 in this dead-end relationship. It’s your call to make. Keep me posted.

More responses to the question about the family who disagreed with an officer’s choice of fiancee:

Ms. Vicki, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read your response to Afraid for an Army Officer in The Washington Times. I might not be a clinical social worker, but as a military wife like you, I have an understanding - and maybe a different perspective - of this life.

“Afraid” is actually very perceptive. We are known in “our world” by the company we keep. Like it or not, our husbands are judged by others on what we do or don’t do. Don’t believe me? Why would there be an entire show on Army wives? Why would there be awards handed out to the spouse of the year and awards on the White House lawn for military spouses on Military Spouse Appreciation Day? In my view, it’s highly unlikely that unless you have the education, poise and that go-getter attitude, you wouldn’t be awarded such a prize. Yet another example was how it was quick rumor around post when a commander met and married a woman he met on the Internet, and she didn’t have the social graces to even run a coffee and had to learn everything that a lieutenant’s wife would’ve learned long ago. Petty? Perhaps. Real life? You bet.

I believe you were very harsh to “Afraid,” and while I ultimately agree with you that it’s his mistake to make, your response came off as haughty and arrogant - exactly what you were accusing her of! And allow me to put this skunk on the table: It sounded to me as if you were coming off very bitter. I couldn’t help but read undertones in your response between enlisted and officer. Could it be that you are the wife of an enlisted soldier and that’s why you came off so defensive? This was the first time I’ve read your column and the first time I’ve ever written a letter in response to a “Dear Abby” or in this case, Ms. Vicki, but I had to let you know. - My 2 cents.

Ms. Vicki, I totally agree with what you told the family about the officer. I was the woman who thought she had it all together. I looked the part; I am very well educated and I come from a family who is of status. I married a career officer. I hosted events, planned fundraisers, volunteered countless hours, and I would meet and greet the who’s who of the Army. I did all this because I was told this is what an officer’s spouse needed to do for her husband’s career. What happened? Well, the marriage was a total sham for many reasons and I gave up trying to make it work after 10 years. Where is the officer now? He married a woman who worked in the bar he frequented. She was an uneducated woman with no career and not especially good-looking. Well, he still made general officer. You see, Ms. Vicki, wives need to think for themselves and not get caught up in all the officers’ spouses’ hoopla. When I re-entered the work force, the volunteer work I had on my resume didn’t even matter. - I’m Making It.

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 Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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