Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki:

I need to be honest with someone. I have been dating a married officer for three years. It was not supposed to happen, but we were drawn to each other and our connection was powerful. He said he was very unhappy at home and was trying to find the best time to leave. Every time he would pack up and leave, his wife would make up some reason for him to stay. She pretended she was sick. Then she pretended the children were sick with some grave disease. She even said she wanted him to stay until she finished her master´s degree so she would be able to take care of herself better after the divorce. Well, she has her degree and he’s still there.

I´m beginning to think he never intended to leave her. I became pregnant but he convinced me to have an abortion. He said he didn’t need another child and said a child would stop us from being together. I will never forgive myself for aborting my child, but that´s something I will have to live with.

I try to move on, but he keeps coming back and telling me he is leaving his wife so I have to be patient. I want to believe him, but I am very leery of him now. I have given him my undying support for so long. I helped him study for promotions; I helped him with his finances and paid his bills. I spent holidays alone because he could not make it because he was with his family.

Why can´t I get him from under my skin? Please believe me; I am trying to. It´s just that every time he comes with his sad eyes and big lies, I believe him and we start over again. Do you think he will ever leave her? Should I keep believing him and stay, or run the other way?

-The Other Woman

Dear Other Woman:

You are right; I hear this story all the time. The other women sound just like you. The “other woman” always thinks everything is about her. She always has this feeling of entitlement and thinks she is the only one who matters. Why should I feel sorry for you when you don´t have any regard for his wife or his children? His wife and children did not ask for this. You claim you were overtaken by this powerful connection. Oh, please. Get over yourself. His sad eyes and big lies, huh? This is like a country & western song I heard by Carrie Underwood. You deserve nothing.

OK, you are hearing from me. I don´t have any respect for you because you got yourself into this mess. When he told you he was married, you should have immediately cut him off. Conversation over. You said you have been there for him and even missed holidays with this guy because he had to be with his family. Hello, wake up, Other Woman. He is married with a family. Geesh, you don´t get it.

Bottom line, these guys say anything to get what they want. They know they will find some fool who is willing to believe the crap. They all say the same thing: “My wife doesn´t understand me,” “We don´t communicate,” and “I´m going to leave her, but be patient until the time is right.” I´m not totally blaming you, because it takes two, but I´m just amazed by the number of women who are willing to get themselves in this situation.

Listen, Other Woman, cut him off totally and don´t accept his phone calls, his text messages or his e-mails, and don’t let him into your home for his late-night booty calls. Personally, I think you should move to a different address. Read my lips: Leave him alone. Take care of yourself and feel free to write me again with another issue at your leisure.

Dear Ms. Vicki:

My husband just got back from his third deployment to Iraq in June. He just found out he is on rotation to go to Afghanistan in February. Ms. Vicki, this is not fair. What about all the other people who are just hiding out and making promotions and have never been deployed? Why can´t they go? What about my marriage, my family and my children? Does the Marine Corps even think that I might miss my husband, too? My children need their father. I did not ask to be a single parent and I did not sign up for this either. I just can´t do this anymore and I won´t. Something has to give.

My husband is so upset that he is talking about going AWOL and moving all of us to Canada or something. I´m convincing him to do it; I´m ready to go. The Marines think they own you when you join and because they gave my husband that measly bonus. The bonus was nothing. It was not worth all this hell and they can have it back.

Ms. Vicki, I read that you are a military spouse, too. Has your husband been deployed? Would you help your husband go AWOL if he was going on his fourth deployment? Please answer back in a hurry.

-On My Way to Canada

Dear Canada:

I know it doesn´t seem fair. Your husband has been deployed three times and you are right - I, too, know some service members who have never been deployed. Conversely, that cannot be your focus. If you do, it will only lead to more resentment and anger. You and your husband have got to sit down and talk about this and support each other emotionally. You cannot encourage him to go AWOL. Believe me, he could end up in jail. Going AWOL is not the answer.

You are not alone. I understand, and thousands of other service members and families understand, how hard deployments are.

Here´s my advice: You have got to build a wellness plan to help you through this. There is a reason you were able to make it through three long, tough deployments. Can you answer that? How did you make it through the previous deployments? Whatever you did, you must dig deeper to make it through this one. You have got to solicit the help of family members, friends and other loved ones like never before. You should even consider starting your own support group for deployed spouses. Believe me, you are not the only spouse in this situation; other people need your help and experience, too. Consider spiritual advice by talking with a member of the clergy. I´m sure they would give you good counsel.

I know you are angry and I hope that will get better. Consider speaking with a professional counselor or clinical social worker about your feelings. They would give you advice and would be a great source of support for you. Please take care of yourself. I know firsthand this is not easy. You are not alone. Please keep in touch with me and feel free to vent any time. God bless.

Vicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Contact her at

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