- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am 26 and my husband is 25 and our marriage of nearly two years is in trouble.

My husband is in the Air Force. We dated for eight months and I fell in love with him right away. When it was time for him to leave for his new post in Japan, we talked about breaking up. But then we decided to get married in Vegas, with our families present, and I came to Japan, too.

I am realizing he isn’t the man I fell in love with.

Since coming to Japan, we have argued and yelled a lot, and been mean to each other. Sometimes, he has been mean while drinking alcohol, but he doesn’t do that anymore.

Last weekend, we had a heart-to-heart talk. I told him how hurt I am that he doesn’t hug or kiss me or do anything sweet. I feel lonely since he is the only family I have here. But he brushed me away and said he’s just not a lovey-dovey person.

He also said he feels we got married too quickly and it’s a mistake, and he doesn’t know if he can live with that mistake the rest of his life. He feels sorry that I left everything for him and now things are bad. He also says he doesn’t want children, especially right now, even though I would like them.

I feel like I am wasting my time and just waiting for a divorce. But when he sees I am upset or when we talk when we aren’t fighting, he says he still loves me, he just really hates the fighting. It’s hard for me because I feel like I love a man who really doesn’t want me.

We talk about going for counseling, but we never do. I love him and want to be with him, and he feels the same, but not all the time. Any advice?

- Trouble in Japan

Dear Japan,

Here’s what I notice. You are both young and far away from your family and friends, probably for the first time in your lives.

Marriage is not easy; it’s not for the faint at heart. Many young people marry and manage to have successful marriages, regardless of their occupations. Conversely, many people wait and marry later in life when they are older but still end up in divorce court. Bottom line, it takes two to make a marriage work.

I know it’s been tough on you adapting to a new marriage and a new country, but here´s the deal: The honeymoon is over and it’s time for the two of you to grow up.

I’m not trying to be curt or harsh because I’m sure I’ll receive numerous letters telling me, “Ms. Vicki, you were too harsh on that wife from Japan.” However, the truth is the truth. It’s time for the two of you to stop tantrumming and learn to communicate your needs and wants in a healthy way.

Arguing, especially when mixed with alcohol, spells trouble. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. You’ll end up in a Family Advocacy Program for domestic violence and your husband will have a mandatory alcohol assessment. Believe me, you don’t need the extra burden.

I think you both should consider counseling quickly. You could definitely use the marital counseling offered on your base. Even if your husband refuses to go, I think you should still go because you need someone to talk to who can help you sort out your feelings and provide guidance and support. I hope your marriage works out. Please keep me posted.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I don’t fit in with this conservative military culture and I am miserable.

I married my husband four years ago. The spouses who live on post with me go to each other’s houses, sipping coffee and tea, and think life revolves around their husbands’ ranks and careers. I’ve never seen so many women who talk about “my husband is in command,” “my husband’s getting promoted,” “my husband this” and “my husband that.”

Why don´t they get a clue? I am not a Stepford wife! I am my own person. These wives compete for commander’s coins like they are $1,000 bills. They would give their right arm to be in charge of a Family Readiness Group or in a leadership position over other spouses.

Ms. Vicki, I’m not going to compete to have babies and more babies, and home school a boatload of children just to prove to the community that I am Superwoman of the Year.

I am a woman of intelligence, I have attained higher education. I recently went back to work as a physical therapist (Most of my neighbors won’t even speak to me since I started working. It’s like I left the cult or something).

Ms. Vicki, do you know of a Web site that offers support to the working career-minded spouse like me?

- Lost in Translation

Dear Translation,

It seems like you have many things in your favor. I’m not sure why you would consider yourself lost.

It takes everyone with many differences to make a community. I won’t pass judgment on a stay-at-home mom because that is a very honorable position. I was a stay-at-home mom, off and on, while my children were growing up.

Additionally, it’s none of my business who’s having coffee with whom. I’ve never monitored who my neighbors socialize with; I’ve never felt pressured to be a part of the group or fit in with a clique or be accepted.

My advice is sweep around your own front door, not your neighbors’. I regret the disillusionment you’ve felt. However, your feelings have been told to me by many.

Conversely, I think you are on the right track. You are working in your career field; this should bring some self-satisfaction and improve your self-worth. All of these things are very important to us.

I also think you should consider living off-post, especially since the base or post appears to be closing in on you. In the meantime, continue to take care of yourself and your family. Find time to stay emotionally connected to your husband despite your dislike for his career choice.

Finally, I would like to applaud the many spouses who give of their time, volunteering numerous hours in our military communities. It´s a sacrifice; I thank you.

• 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. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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