- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I haven’t filed for divorce, but my husband and I are officially separated. I left him in Maryland, and I moved back to California to be near my family.

I had to get away from him. We were married for 10 years, and each year he became harder and harder to live with. Each time he came home from a deployment, it was like living with a stranger more and more. My husband became more cynical, isolating from me emotionally and acting like a jerk.

I’ve been in California for almost two months and he calls me at least 50 times a day, asking me I’m coming back, wanting me to give him another chance. Give him another chance at what, a chance to make my life miserable?

I read your column in Germany and then I found you again when I moved to Maryland. I know you want relationships to work, but what do you do, Ms. Vicki, when you don’t love a person anymore?

To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever loved my husband. Maybe he was a way out for me. I wanted to get away from California because I was running from an abusive relationship. My husband came along and was my ticket to a new life. Now I’m much better and stronger, and I don’t need to be taken care of by him.

I want him to move on and stop harassing me to talk to him. This is a legal separation that base legal helped us set up. Now a divorce is imminent. My husband wants counseling to try and work it out, but I don’t want counseling and I wouldn’t go if it were right around the corner.

How do I tell my husband it’s over? I can’t help that he joined the Army and the next years of his life will only be filled with deployment after deployment. It’s not my fault. He needs to come to grips that our marriage is over. — Making It At 28

OK 28, it sounds as if you are emotionally and logistically out of this marriage. Separating definitely is not a way to improve or save a marriage; it only increases the gap between you two. For couples who are interested in saving their marriage, I advise them to stay together in the same house, even if they sleep separately, to avoid growing further apart emotionally.

I also encourage couples to seek the help of a counselor, even if divorce is imminent. It’s important for both spouses to be emotionally healthy. This helps both parties reach some agreement and increases the chances for civility, especially if there are children involved. It can also help you avoid making the same mistakes in a future relationship.

You said you married your husband to get away from an abusive relationship. It’s important for you to seek counseling because statistics show that you could very well repeat the same mistake.

You said you and your husband have experienced many separations. Many times the deployments and long separations can wreak havoc on a relationship. But you also report that you never loved your husband and married him because he was your ticket away from a previous bad relationship. Perhaps, the multiple deployments have nothing to do with your impending divorce.

You asked me how you can tell your husband the marriage is over. I think you’ve done a good job of this already. You’ve solidified a legal separation, moved across the country and you are refusing to take his phone calls. He hasn’t accepted it yet.

I have a few recommendations for you. Please ask your husband’s trusted family members and true friends to help him through this tough time. He needs support from many people right now. Second, unless he has been verbally or physically abusive, you should accept some of his phone calls. However, you should set some boundaries, for example, let him know you will not talk to him 15 times a day, and you are only interested in talking to him about the impending divorce or anything that has to do with you helping him move on.

Third, if you are in a relationship with someone else, do not throw it in his face. This will only make matters worse. Stay in touch when you can.

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

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