- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ms. Vicki,

I need your advice on what to do. I’ve been married for six months to a woman I barely knew and have been deployed to Iraq for two months.

My wife already has sifted through my money like Highway 20 going east and west. She tells me there is nothing I can do about it because my money belongs to her now and I can get in trouble for not taking care of her. I have more than $3,000 going in my account every month, and by the end of the month, my checking account is basically at zero.

My mother tells me my wife and her family are having a good time and that she may even be using my credit to buy them things. I’m from a small town in Ohio where everyone knows everything about everybody, so I don’t doubt these stories.

My mother and my oldest sister have tried to talk to my wife, but she keeps ignoring their phone calls. They have gone to her mother’s house to try to talk to my wife, but they always get some excuse, like, “Oh, she’s asleep” or “She’s not here right now.” I’m trying to make my mother stay calm because they would fight.

I never should have married my wife, but I guess I just wanted to say I was married, and I wanted to feel like I had somebody special waiting for me when I came back. This is turning out to be a nightmare, and I don’t know what to do or how to make this stop.

I will re-enlist in May, and I’ll get a real big bonus. The way my wife is going, she will spend everything I have, and I won’t have a dime saved.

Ms. Vicki, am I stuck with my wife’s spending? Is there anything I can do to stop her? - Could Be Penniless

Dear Penniless,

You do not have to let your wife drain your funds and leave you penniless, and you should not stand by and let this happen.

You need to remove her from your checking account immediately. You should be able to do that through your bank online; if not, call the bank. Have her name taken off your checking account and tell the bank to cancel any debit card or credit card linked to the account.

If you have given her power of attorney, you need to see someone from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps immediately to revoke that. Once you have done so, mail her a copy of the paperwork to let her know the privilege has been revoked. If she continues to try to use the power of attorney - she could be using it to establish credit and make purchases in your name, for example - she could be in serious trouble.

I regret to inform you that I hear stories every day of service members who return home to discover they are penniless and facing insurmountable debt. You can’t sit back and let that happen.

Once you cut off your wife’s funds, she will sing a different tune. At that point, if you want to support her financially, I suggest you send a specific allowance for her to live on while you are away. Also encourage her to get a job.

Take care of yourself; this is not the time for you to have extra stress and worry. Keep in touch.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I abhor military life, and I have never even had to deal with deployments. My husband has worked at the Pentagon for the past six years while everyone has given their blood, sweat and tears serving this country. Still, I wanted nothing to do with the Army, and I made my husband pay for it.

I left my husband and my children three years ago. I vanished without even leaving a “Dear John” letter.

I was wrong, and after growing up, I realize I want my husband and family back. He won’t have anything to do with me and is taking me to court to keep me away from my children. He has filed for divorce.

Why do I want what I can’t have? Why does it hurt so much, Ms. Vicki? Do you think counseling will help? - One Bad Mistake

Dear Mistake,

Hmm, let’s see. Do I think counseling will help? Help whom? You? Your husband? Your children?

Professionally speaking, I think everyone involved could use some counseling, especially your children. Think for a minute what they experienced. Their mother walked out without saying goodbye and stayed away for three years. Now she’s returned and says, “Hello, I’m back, and I’d like for us to be a family again.”

Lady, you have to know this was devastating for them, right? You sound selfish and immature, but I won’t spend too much time beating you up.

I’m surprised your husband waited around and didn’t file for divorce in your absence. Here’s the deal: I think he is finished with you. I hope, however, that you can have a relationship with your children.

You should realize that establishing a relationship with them won’t happen overnight, but let’s hope you can stay around and cool your jets long enough to build a solid relationship. I really hope you never run out on them again.

Yes, definitely seek counseling for your children. You could be included in some of the sessions to help resolve some of the concerns and feelings they have about you. Overall, I think children have an enormous capacity to forgive. This will be to your benefit, but you need to get yourself together and get some individual counseling for yourself.

Contact Military OneSource (800/342-9647), which can refer you to a therapist or professional counselor in your community. Because you are still a military spouse, you qualify for services. Find a good therapist who specializes in family therapy and individual counseling. Thanks for writing and sharing your story. Take care.

Reader responses

I just had to comment on the stinky husband (Dec. 13). I truly feel as if I work with this man, and yes, his breath and his body odor are horrible. All the employees know he is married, and we can’t believe he takes his behind to bed and wakes up “rank” like that every morning - moreover, that he is lying next to his wife every night. Ms. Vicki, his wife needs to do something about this. She can follow your advice or even divorce him if he does not clear up this matter.

Many of my co-workers have complained to our human resources people, but they won’t do or say anything for fear of litigation. Basically, HR has wimped out. Now the employees are trying other measures to get something done about this man’s hygiene. I don’t blame his wife for being offended, but she has to take matters into her own hands because he is her husband. - Tired of Coping With the Body Odor

I’m a medical assistant for an endocrinologist. I think the smelly husband definitely should get a checkup that includes lab work, etc. He could have other medical problems. Sounds like it could be something serious. - Working at Walter Reed

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 dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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