- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

A month ago, my husband of 14 years told me he was in love with a hussy he met at the Pentagon. He then packed his bags and left our home.

He is continuing to pay the bills and leaves money in a checking account for me and our three children, but, Ms. Vicki, he wants to divorce me.

I thought we had a great marriage, so I asked him why he wants a divorce. He said he hasn’t been happy for a long time and he was in love with someone else.

I want to fight to save my marriage. Why should I let this obvious tramp wreck my home and my marriage? I have three children with this man. Furthermore, I have invested everything into this marriage.

My husband won’t tell me who this woman is, and I’m not sure where she works in the Pentagon. But I want to meet her so I can talk to her, woman to woman. I want to know why she is so hell-bent on taking away my husband and my children’s father.

What did this woman do to turn my husband against me? How did this happen, and why am I so surprised? I thought adultery was illegal in the military, so I went to talk to my husband’s boss about our situation. He said he couldn’t do anything and it was none of his business.

I´m pretending with family and friends that everything is OK. Where should I go from here?

- Fighting to Save My Marriage

Dear Fighting,

My heart really goes out to you. Please allow me to be honest with you, OK?

Your husband has checked out of this marriage. He told you he is in love with someone else and he wants a divorce. Moreover, he has packed and left home.

The affair is one thing, but his leaving home says things about the situation that you cannot ignore. The feelings and questions you have are normal. However, you must ask yourself, if you knew everything you asked about this woman, would that help or solve this problem? I don’t think it would.

Again, I know where you’re coming from, and I know you want to shake some sense into your husband’s head and you probably want to do even more to the woman. You’re hoping your husband will come to his senses, come home, admit he’s made a mistake and beg for forgiveness. Here’s the deal. I don’t think he will. He’s gone. You have to start moving things in your favor by seeking some legal advice. I’m sure your husband has an attorney, so don’t be surprised when you are served divorce papers.

I’ve been working with couples for more than 10 years. One person is almost always surprised to learn the other partner was unhappy. It’s as if they never have any idea. I try to encourage deep communication between couples so they can get to core problems and not just address surface issues. Military couples have the same concerns as civilian couples; however, we must add long deployments and separations to the mix.

I wish your husband would agree to counseling, but as you said in a subsequent e-mail, he refuses. You also said your husband has told everyone he doesn’t need help and he doesn’t want to be married to you anymore. As a result, I must advise you not to be in denial.

I know I’m an outsider, but you have to take care of yourself right now. Get some legal advice, lean on trusted family and friends to help you through this tough time, and consider individual counseling for yourself.

I wish your situation were isolated, but I have to admit I receive lots of letters like yours every week. I know it doesn’t make you feel better knowing this, but I am concerned about you, so please keep in touch.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My 11-year-old son has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and it’s affecting our whole family. Our other children appear to resent him and all the attention he is getting.

My son is disruptive and starts trouble with other children. He does this not only with his siblings, but with children at school and in the neighborhood.

When he misbehaves, the school wants to send him home or expel him. I don’t think that’s the answer because then he suffers academically. However, I’m always at the school to assist my son or intervene on his behalf. It’s like a full-time job to monitor him. I’m wondering if I should I home-school him. Do you have any advice?

- Fatigued Mother

Dear Mother,

You have to accept that there are no quick fixes for a child with ADHD. There is continual planning, strategizing and meeting with different professionals who play a part in your son’s well-being.

First, your family must learn skills to cope with the challenges of ADHD and acquire strategies to deal with the family’s fatigue and frustration. You must view each of your children as unique and focus on individual strengths and abilities. Please check out Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (www.chadd.org). It provides a wealth of information about ADHD, plus how to find support groups.

Second, just because your son has been diagnosed with ADHD does not mean he cannot be responsible for his behavior. He must continue to receive rewards for good behavior and fair consequences for misbehaving. You and your husband can do this by assuming the role of parent-coach when directing and disciplining your son. You can purchase a series of parent coaching cards at www.parentcoachcards.com. Determine the skill you wish your son to develop and initiate practice sessions to help him acquire that skill. I think this is a great tool.

Third, you and your husband must continue to work with the school for better ways to improve your son’s behavior. You are right that sending him home or suspending him is not the answer. You must always advocate for your child. Consider a few sessions with a family counselor. This will help continue the educational process about ADHD, resolve areas of frustration and conflict, and offer support for you and your family.

Finally, you must take care of yourself, too. You have to eat healthfully, get plenty of rest and exercise a least three times a week. Walking at least 30 minutes a day would be great. This would help you deal with the stress and fatigue. Hang in there, and don’t give up. I know this was quick, but I hope it helps.

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

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