- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki: The romance is gone from my marriage and I am tired of pretending I am in a perfect and great marriage when I’m not. I have played a role for so many people for a long time, but I’m miserable. I hate to be personal, but I have not made love to my husband for more than four months. We are not old; we are both 35.

I have supported my husband throughout his military career; however, I think it has been the source of our problem, especially with our intimacy. How can we keep a marriage healthy and strong with all the trainings, schools, field exercises and multiple deployments? This is not what I said “I do” for.

I don’t think my friends understand. The wives act like they deploy and fight the battles. They act like “It’s another deployment, I’m ready, give it to me one more time.”

I love my husband and my two children, and I truly want them to be with their father and for us to be a couple. However, I think my marriage is over. I’m ready to go, but ashamed of a divorce stigma. Do you have any advice for me? — Love Jones Gone

Dear Love Jones:

Thanks for writing. I agree your marriage is in trouble, but I think there is still hope. You had to exert a lot of energy to pretend to others all these years. Now you have to put that same energy into saving your marriage.

I know deployments and long absences can wreak havoc on relationships. Here’s the deal, you stop being a people-pleaser and stop worrying about what other people might think about you. Think of it like this. We have our cars serviced every 3,000 miles so we can keep them running well and get a lot of travel from them. Why don’t we take care of our marriages the same way? Often, all it takes is a quick tuneup.

Start with the chaplain’s office on your base, or your community church. Many sponsor marriage retreats, etc. You should also consider marital counseling to work through your issues. This could be provided on base; if not, you could check with Tricare or Military One Source for a referral to a counselor in your community.

I encourage you not to give up on your marriage. You said in your letter, “I have not made love to my husband for more than four months.” Hopefully, you meant you haven’t made love to anyone in four months. I don’t mean to patronize you, but from the tone of your letter, you sound like you may be “creeping” with someone else. I sure hope not as this would only cause more problems.

Dear Ms. Vicki:

My husband, a Marine for 12 years, is due to return from his fourth deployment in December. He’s a great man and a great father. I’ve been doing OK, but I have a question. I was molested by my father when I was young. When I told my mother, she did not believe me. It later came out that my father had done the same thing to my older sister and my cousin.

My parents stayed together and my dad got counseling. He was not arrested and did not serve jail time. Before I got married, I got counseling to work through all the pain. My father asked for forgiveness and I have forgiven him. I also have forgiven my mother for not believing me.

My parents would like to keep my two daughters this summer for two weeks. They are going to pay for the plane tickets. I say yes, but my husband says “No way.” Ms. Vicki, what do you think? I would never want my daughters to go through what I did, but I forgave my father and believe in second chances. - Giving 2nd Chances

Dear 2nd Chances:

I totally believe in forgiveness, reconciliation and second chances. However, I totally agree with your husband and I think you should listen to us: absolutely not. Do not send your daughters to visit your parents for two weeks. Research shows that treatment outcomes are not good for sex offenders. They often offend again. Your father may be a changed man, but don’t let him have access to your daughters. Even more, your mother showed that she will ignore or be in denial about what her husband does, right?

I don’t have a problem with you making amends with your parents. However, under no circumstances are you to put your daughters on a plane to visit your parents unsupervised.

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 runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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