- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I started reading your column when I was in Germany visiting my husband, who is an Army officer. He has been active-duty for 18 years, but I decided not to travel with him because I wanted to maintain my career. I did not want the expectations of being an officer´s wife. It just would not work for me. This lifestyle works for me and my husband; we’re both happy.

I meet many other wives who are miserable because they are trying to fit into someone else´s mold of how they should live. They want to live by someone else´s expectation for their husband´s rank. I chose not to live like this. My husband is a lieutenant colonel and has been promoted early, twice. My income is more than twice my husband’s.

This is why I wanted to write you, Ms. Vicki, when I saw that you are in Department of Defense provides to military spouses is nothing more than welfare. Everything with them is “give me,” or “help me.” I think it´s time for them (including you) to put on your “big girl pants” and make a life of your own. You don´t hear about civilian spouses crying all of the time. They are single parents and are married to spouses who work long hours, too. What special services do they receive? Are they expected to attend coffees, teas, hail and farewells and volunteer countless hours in the community and receive a certificate for it? My advice to all of you is this: Get out and get to work. Stop your sniffling. No one owes you a thing.

No offense intended, Ms. Vicki.

- Time I Got This Off My Chest

Dear Time:

No offense taken. However, let me put you in check, real quick.

I have never asked for one thing from you or the Department of Defense. Many military spouses choose to volunteer countless hours in their communities; host or attend coffees, teas, and hail and farewells; and receive those certificates for a job well done. It´s their choice to do so or not.

Now, because you are making more than twice your husband´s salary, good for you. Let me tell you: It doesn´t make you better.

In this column, I receive letters of thanks, and I also get letters that reprimand me. It doesn´t bother me because I know it comes with the territory. I guess I´ve put on my “big girl pants.”

Conversely, don´t ever say to anyone again that the Department of Defense dispenses welfare to military spouses. You are dead wrong and have no right to say such a thing. Keep reading The Times and keep reading the column but keep such comments to yourself.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’ve been reading your column in The Washington Times since I moved here last month. I think your advice is right on the mark, and now I need your advice.

I will soon be married one year to the greatest man I’ve ever met. My husband is truly my best friend. We’ve never even had an argument. We tell each other everything. My husband was married before, and his ex cheated on him and treated him horribly. So, this brings me to my questions.

I recently found my husband’s first wedding album and video in a closet. I’m hurt and upset. Why would he keep these? How do I approach this subject? Do I wait until he is deployed and just quietly throw them away? Also, he still receives text messages from her. When I asked him why she was still texting him, he said she only does it once or twice a year. I told him that I did not appreciate him still communicating with his ex. I couldn’t make him understand that even though he is not initiating the text, he still is communicating with her when he texts her back. Am I correct?

- A Confused and Hurt Newlywed

Dear Newlywed:

Well, I definitely can understand why you would be confused and hurt. I’m sure you were shocked when you found the wedding photos and video. I’m with you. If the marriage was so horrible, why would your husband keep such memories? To be honest, I’m not sure, but I will give him the benefit of doubt. Let’s say he hasn’t had time to throw them away or that he’s just coming to grips with the fact that the part of his life with his ex is over.

But here’s the deal. You can’t be the one to throw the items away; he has to throw them away. No. 2, you have to let him know in a non-accusatory way that you are “confused and hurt” by the pictures and video.

In your defense, I really think the text messages should stop; they’re totally inappropriate. So try saying this: “I trust you. I’m not sure what part of your first marriage you are holding on to or what it is that you can’t let go. But I married you because I thought your relationship was over with her. Texting her and allowing her to text you sends me a different message; the message is that I’m not the woman who has your heart. I married you because I thought you were totally in love and committed to me. Who has your heart, me or your ex?” Let him answer you. If he can’t give you an answer, something is wrong.

Let your husband know that you want your marriage to work and that you are willing to work through issues to make your marriage last and be successful.

When is your husband deploying? Please consider a few sessions with a counselor. I think a counselor could give you both some advice and offer you support during the deployment.

I wish you only success. Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

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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