- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki:

I´ve been reading your column since it started in New York around 2001 or so.

I´ll get to my point and be brief. First, let me say that I think you come down on people far too hard without knowing the whole story. How much can be captured from a few lines in a column? I´m not sure, but I decided I should tell you my story and what´s going on with me. I work with my best friend, and we both agreed that I should write you for advice. The deal is, I have to take your advice and do as you say.

Ms. Vicki, I am a military spouse. I won´t mention my husband’s branch of service because I want to try to remain as anonymous as possible.

My husband’s career has been plagued by long absences, trainings and, over the past few years, multiple deployments. I know I´m not the only spouse who is enduring the same, and I´m not asking for sympathy, either. I think I´ve learned to handle things my own way. Ms. Vicki, I´ve asked my husband to get out of the military so we could have a normal life with a normal marriage. Anyone who is separated from his or her spouse for months and years at a time is not in a normal relationship. I guess I was sad, lonely, depressed and angry that he decided to keep his military career. In my mind, he chose his career over me, right? After all, I told him I wanted a different life, and he refused.

The affairs started years ago because I had to have someone to keep me company. Many of them started as workplace romances. Some were other military men, and others were men I met casually and the relationships grew. To this day, my husband has never found out about any of these affairs. He has been much too busy being Mr. Military. He´s happy with his career and will get promoted later this year. He is in his third deployment to Iraq.

He is supposed to be home for his R&R (rest and relaxation) soon. I have to admit, it doesn´t matter to me because I have not seen my husband in almost eight months.

So here is my question, Ms. Vicki. I´ve been having a relationship with my brother-in-law for about a year now. Yes, you heard me: my brother-in-law, my husband´s younger brother. He fulfills my needs; I love him, and he loves me. Besides, I don´t think it will make a difference because I´m already in the family and my two children really love him. When my husband completes his deployment, I´m ready to tell him that I no longer want to be married to him. His brother wants to tell him about our relationship when he is home for R&R. I don´t want to tell him until his deployment is over.

Ms. Vicki, I´m not ashamed about what has happened. I really want to pursue my relationship with my brother-in-law. We would like to be married right now if we could. We jokingly say we are keeping it in the family. LOL.

My best friend says this is wrong, but obviously I disagree. It was bound to happen anyway. My husband and I have grown so much apart that we don´t even know each other. What´s so wrong that I´m in love with his brother? Ms. Vicki, I´m not a bad person. Please don´t be harsh.

- Brother´s Keeper

Dear Brother´s Keeper:

I used to tell my sons, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it´s still a pig.” In your words, you asked me not to be harsh. So, OK, I´ll be kind by saying, “You are exhibiting pig behavior.” Notice, I didn´t call you a pig. I´m saying you´ve got some pig behavior.

Bottom line: This is a mess, a total mess. Moreover, you are very callous and don´t seem to be accepting any responsibility for your behavior. It´s as if you have this self-entitlement attitude that says, “I can do what I want and with whom.” You are dead wrong. What you have started could be devastating to your husband and your children. What do you think will happen if your husband finds out his wife is sleeping with his brother when he comes home for R&R? I´m thinking he will be shocked. This will mean he has to go back to Iraq to complete his tour totally messed up emotionally. Down range, he should be focused and at his best. Others are depending on him to have their back and vice versa. It´s called trying to stay alive. Get it? I´m sure you don´t because you are only thinking about yourself right now.

Listen, I totally agree with your best friend; this is wrong. You´ve had numerous affairs, right? Obviously, being in the arms of other men has not made you any happier, and trust me, having this affair with your brother-in-law won´t make you happy, either. For you, the grass will always be greener on the other side. You have to get some self-control. For the first time in your life, I think you need to step up and be a woman; stop this affair immediately.

In your defense, I will say that long deployments and absences can wreak havoc on a relationship. Many people report that they have grown apart from their spouses during these times. Military couples are working overtime trying to keep their relationships and marriages intact. It´s not easy, but it can be done. So, if you don´t love your husband, if you´re not in love with him, if you are miserable and don´t want to be married to him anymore, do the right thing and let him know you no longer want to be married to him - but after his deployment.

By the way, I’ve never lived at Fort Drum, N.Y.

• 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 [email protected]

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