- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have been married 21/2 years, but was with my hubby a year before we got married. In a few months, he is going to deploy for the third time.

Before his last deployment in 2006, he had an ex-girlfriend who called him all the time and e-mailed him. I got into his Yahoo account and found the e-mails they sent back and forth, and was very upset with what they were planning and talking about. For instance, he would lie to me about pulling duty when he really was going to go off and see her and stay the night. I caught him before he could do anything.

I had to answer his phone and ask her to stop calling him and e-mailing him. I even got him to tell her to stop. So I thought she had stopped.

Then when he deployed, I got into his mailbox to see if it was still going on. I found that he had pictures of naked or topless women and had set up accounts at singles Web sites. I also saw that his ex-girlfriend was still e-mailing him. I threatened to leave him, so he stopped.

Since he has been home, he has been great. We had a baby boy a week before he returned home.

My fear is that this will all happen again when he redeploys in a few months. I have asked him for his Yahoo password, since he changed it when he got home. He asked me why I needed it and I explained that if he has nothing to hide, then I would like to have it. He has mine, so it’s only fair. He told me he isn’t the man he used to be. Should I believe him?

We had so many problems with the last deployment that I am scared he will find himself in temptation again and start talking to other women on the Internet. I do not think I could live with myself if it happens again. What to do? - Scared in Virginia

Dear Virginia,

Thank you so much for writing to me. I hope I can impart some wisdom for you and this situation. First of all, congratulations on the new baby. I really do hope you and your husband will have a solid marriage that will last for a lifetime.

However, let be me honest. From the tone of your letter, you appear to be frantic and scared. If this is true, then I’m more concerned about what this situation is doing to you, emotionally and mentally.

Here’s my question: Are you willing to continue to be the checker? Checking his phone logs, his text messages, his e-mails, etc.? Can you live like that? If so, then how can you stay with someone you don’t trust? This would not be fair to you. I see this over and over again, and I’m telling you, you will be miserable. Because here’s the deal, you may be able to manage and watch some things, but you can’t watch him 24/7. Even if you could, I would say, “Don’t do this.”

You sound like a woman who loves her husband and I applaud you for that. However, I don’t agree with you having his e-mail passwords or him having yours. Why? Well because it says the two of you don’t trust each other. Besides, you are adults and deserve privacy.

In your defense, I would say you have reasons to be concerned, given your husband’s past actions. However, if you have to watch and monitor him, then something’s wrong with the marriage. Please know that I’m not blaming you in any way for his actions.

So what do I recommend? Well, I think this would be a great time to have a marriage tuneup. The two of you should get these issues on the table and discuss them with a professional who can listen, advise and support you both. Please contact Military One Source (800/342-9647), which can connect you to a counselor who specializes in marital counseling in the off-base community. It’s free.

Bottom line, you have to trust him. Trust means “you don’t have to watch his every move,” right?

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 [email protected]

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