- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Nothing prepared me for the shock I have experienced since my husband came home from Iraq. I have been a good and faithful wife for 16 years and stayed faithful throughout my marriage. The long separations and deployments have taken their toll on me and the children. But because I was committed to my husband and to my children, I have tried to suffer through them.

Now, after a second long deployment, I have found out my husband cheated on me in Iraq. Not just cheated, but had a full-fledged affair. This woman continues to send him e-mails and has called my home.

My husband has admitted to the affair and says he has feelings for this woman. Where does this leave me and my children? I have traveled around for the past 16 years being an Army wife, and that’s probably all I know. Now I am ashamed and angry.

My family tells me I should report him and this female soldier to their commanders and move on. I am hesitant because if my husband loses his salary, I lose too. So what will I be moving on to, poverty? I have nothing.

My husband says he is willing to go to a marriage counselor, and I am, too, because I don’t want to lose my husband. Do you think counseling will help? Can you refer us to someone? - Breakup after Deployment

Dear Breakup,

It takes two to agree to counseling and try to save a marriage. I hate to see marriages end and generally tend to side with saving the marriage. I usually get nasty e-mails because of this position. However, the two of you took the vows, so it has to be the two of you who are committed to saving the marriage.

I can’t refer you to a specific person for counseling, but you should check on base with the Social Work Services and ask if they provide marital counseling. If not, contact Military OneSource (800/342-9647) and they will connect you with a marital counselor or therapist in your local community.

In my professional opinion, I think couples who want marital counseling also should receive individual counseling.

In your letter you report you want to save your marriage, but you also say you can’t leave because you have no resources of your own. I think you should consider establishing something for yourself. The fact that you know you would be destitute without your husband sends me a clear message that you should consider continuing your education and perhaps start a career of your own. Check with the Army Community Service on base; it has many education and employment programs to offer spouses.

Your husband cheated, and it’s not your fault. I hope counseling can begin the healing process. At any rate, I think it’s time for you to change your personal situation for your own sake. You deserve the best. Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am a stay-at-home mom and I choose to do this by doing without the extra Mercedes, the expensive SUV or the 3,500-square-foot house. Instead, I am available to my children, volunteer at their schools and make sure they are able to participate in sports, etc.

My husband earns a good living for us even though we struggle on one income. I find myself defending my position to working moms in my community. Some say our children won’t have any life skills, and that I am putting myself at risk because I am depending on my husband for financial stability.

Whose business is it that I am a stay-at-home mom? Why should I have to defend myself or my desire to forgo a career to be at home with my children? - Happy to Stay Home

Dear Happy,

It’s no one’s business that you choose to be a stay-at-home mom. The choice is yours. If you are happy about this decision, then you wouldn’t feel the need to defend your position. In my opinion, it’s nothing to discuss. Being a stay-at-home mom is an honorable position and nothing to be ashamed about. I hope your husband and children appreciate everything you do and the sacrifices you make for your family.

My advice? Don’t take part in the conversation with working moms who want to compare or make you feel insecure for your choices. If you truly believe in what you are doing, then you must be confident about your choice.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am 16 years old. I have not lived at home since my dad deployed in February and nobody seems to care. I have been living from house to house with my friends and their families.

I can’t talk to my dad, but I have e-mailed him and told him his wife will not allow me to stay at home anymore. She uses all of the money to take care of her kids, but she has never liked me. I can’t go back and live with my mother. It would be too difficult to explain, but she is having a lot of problems right now.

It’s not my fault, and nobody seems to care. My dad can’t come home because his command won’t let him. He said he has talked to his wife, but she won’t listen. This is whacked! Why don’t I matter? Is it not important for him to take care of me too? What can I do? I need help. This war has wrecked my life. - Disappointed Child

Dear Child,

Even though your dad is serving his country, you are still very important to him and you are important to me too. You are 16 years old and should not have to move from place to place.

I wrote you and asked for more information. I told you I would help you by contacting your father’s unit to apprise them of your situation. I think his unit would allow him the time to come and make provisions for his child, or at least work on finding you a solid place to live with adults who can care for you.

You wrote me again and said you did not want to give your name or any other information because you were afraid and told me a little more about your mother. I agree that living with her is not a good option.

Please tell your friends’ parents to call your father’s unit. This is the best place to start. They leave support personnel in the unit areas to help with situations like yours. Your father has to be involved in this matter. Your stepmother should be involved, too. She definitely has some responsibility and cannot legally throw you out of the home.

If you would like, ask the adults you are living with to write to me. I would be happy to give them some support and guidance. I’m happy to know you are safe, but you should not have to suffer because your dad is fighting for his country. Keep in touch with me.

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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