- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki: I’m still a victim of my father’s cheating. He was very abusive toward my mother when I was growing up. I played with children in my neighborhood and went to school with them but later discovered they were my half-siblings.

Until recently, I had no relationship with my dad for years. Now we are trying to work on our relationship, and he has apologized to me for his past actions.

However, I married a woman who seems to be like my father. She is a manipulator and a liar and is verbally abusive to me. We have a daughter together, but my mother tells me I should have paternity testing done. I won’t do this because it doesn’t matter what the tests say, she will always be my daughter.

I’m just tired of living like this. I’ve tried and tried to make my wife happy, but there’s nothing I can do to please her. My rank isn’t high enough, the house I purchased is not large enough, the new car doesn’t go fast enough, I don’t kiss her right, and my fingers don’t give good massages. I could go on and on.

I don’t know why I stay. Why don’t I just leave and be with someone who will love and appreciate me? I feel as if I have become my mother, and I married someone who is just like my father. I’ve contemplated leaving many times, but I just don’ want to lose my wife.

Please help me Ms. Vicki, I need some advice.

- SGT Nobody

Dear SGT:

Thanks for writing and sharing this personal part of your life. I must say, you have repeated a familiar family cycle. You grew up surrounded by chaos, and instead of choosing a life with someone who could provide solace, you chose turmoil.

I can´t tell you to leave or stay. However, from your report, it doesn´t sound as if there is anything you can do to make your wife happy. Moreover, it doesn´t sound as if she is a woman who loves and appreciates you for all your hard work.

Conversely, though I really don´t want you to be in a verbally or emotionally abusive relationship, I think it´s very important for you to discover why you chose to continue this family cycle. Why did you marry someone who treats you like your father treated your mother? This is paramount because if you don´t rectify some of these issues, you will only repeat them again in a different relationship. This cannot and should not happen.

You signed your letter “SGT Nobody.” This has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you are nothing, I can see why you would marry someone who treats you as if you are nothing. You must start thinking more highly of yourself and demanding better.

Here´s my advice: You must talk with a counselor immediately. Start at your local base by contacting the social work service department. It could be called something different. If you start there, I know the office staff will connect you to the right people if it´s not them. A counselor will be able to provide support and guidance and be a good sounding board for you. Moreover, this will provide an avenue for you to do some soul-searching so you won´t continue to repeat the same cycle.

Though I think your wife is treating you poorly, I must say that I think this is more about you learning to love yourself. My heart really goes out to you. Keep in touch at your leisure.

Reader responses to previous letters.

• Regarding “Political Disagreement,” in which two previously close military families had a physical falling out over their presidential choices:

Your words were incredibly worthwhile. I couldn´t have done as well as you did, but as soon as I read your words, I thought your answer was perfect. You could have taken the low road, but you said exactly what needed to be said. Many thanks for all your good work.

- C.P.

• Regarding a column in which a military officer’s wife is upset that her husband doesn’t earn more and they have to live in Bowie:

I have been following your column but have never commented until now. The letter from the lieutenant’s wife was both funny and sad. Anyone who thinks Army life is going to be like a country club in Hawaii has some serious thinking to do. “Pay” sounds like a spoiled brat. Noticeably absent from her letter is any mention of her own employment.

So Bowie isn’t a very friendly place, huh? I lived near there for years and didn’t have any problems making friends. Maybe if she stopped whining, people would be friendlier.

Also, if she thinks a lieutenant’s pay isn’t enough, what would she have to say about the lower-ranking enlisted soldiers? Are they just invisible to her? Sounds to me as if she really needs a job and a hobby. Perhaps she had visions of running for an office in the Officers’ Wives Club and hanging out with the brass.

Welcome to reality, “Pay.” I spent 48 months on active duty, and 42 were in overseas deployments. I lived in tents in Vietnam, and our quarters were very crude. If her husband is deployed, I hope “Pay” will not drive him crazy by complaining about what a rough life she’s having in Bowie. If all “Pay” can do is whine, I’d suggest she see the chaplain.

- Gary in Fairfax

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

I think it´s very important for you to discover why you chose to continue this family cycle. Why did you marry someone who treats you like your father treated your mother?

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