- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki, I caught my Marine boyfriend wearing my underwear. Once, I saw him trying on some of my lingerie. I started noticing that the personal items in my dresser were always disheveled and some items were missing.

I went to his house unannounced while he was taking a shower. I saw my clothes lying on the bathroom floor along with other items he had taken off before getting into the shower.

We’ve shared a lot of things, but I refuse to share my lingerie and underwear with anyone, not even him. How can a Marine have such effeminate ways and like to wear female underwear? I keep trying to talk to him about it, but he says he is too embarrassed.

Doesn’t he realize he is stealing from me? At least he should realize he can’t take my belongings without asking for permission. Should I lock up my underwear to keep it away from my boyfriend, or should I break up with him?

-Boyfriend Is a Girly Man

Dear Girly Man,

Here’s the deal. Your boyfriend is working in a culture where he obviously is not free to be himself and disclose this fetish to his co-workers. Believe me, 99.9 percent of his fellow Marines would not understand.

You should suggest he explore counseling as an option - counseling that would be kept anonymous. In the meantime, tell him to stop taking your personal belongings without your permission. It’s your decision whether you want to remain in this relationship or not. Keep in touch.

Reader responses:

c I have been meaning to write to you to say how much I appreciate your column. I am not in the military, but I find that your advice on marriage and family issues usually reflects a degree of wisdom and common sense that is lacking in most of the other advice columns out there.

What spurred me to write now, however, is my disagreement with your Oct. 25 column concerning a 17-year-old boy whose parents were divorcing. His mother asked him to go to a local college or forgo college and get a job so he could help his family. You said no 17-year-old should be put in that position.

It has only been relatively recently that Americans have come to conclude that this is not a situation 17-year-olds should endure. Teens historically have been expected to help their families, and that is still true in many cultures. Though I agree that it would be very unfortunate for anyone to have to forgo college, I don’t think it is unreasonable for a 17-year-old in his particular circumstances to have a part-time job or consider attending an area college if a suitable one is available. …

I think it makes perfect sense for a boy from a family of limited means to get an after-school job for a few hours a week and save for his own expenses and further education instead of attending all of the after-school clubs in which he wants to participate. Having jobs when I was a teen taught me a great deal about responsibility as well as the rewards of earning money. …

With regard to going to college, I do not think the teen should be asked to forgo it, but if there is a decent local option, this teen should seriously consider it. Your advice seemed to dismiss this option. That ties into the very prevalent view that a child is entitled to go off to the college of his or her “dreams” (driving the really nice car provided by mom and dad) without regard to the mountain of debt that will result. …

In addition, this boy’s presence in the area could be a big help to his brothers. I am surprised you didn’t even consider that factor. This boy has an opportunity to be a major positive influence and role model to these young boys at a difficult and probably pivotal time in their lives. They are, after all, his own brothers.

Again, if he could get a comparable education nearby while incurring less debt, he should carefully consider that. I have a feeling this would be very enriching to him as well. Being around to offer his mom moral support is not insignificant either, as your advice seems to suggest.

I would have expected your answer from any of the other advice columns out there, but I was surprised this advice came from you. In this case, your advice seemed to fit more into the “do whatever you feel like doing, for the experience of it” philosophy without a thought for anyone else, even your own family or your own financial future.

- CB

c I enjoy your column immensely, but I think you may have not given the full story to “Your Fallen Comrade” in response to her Oct. 29 letter concerning her legal entitlement to support. (Her husband left her and their children and is living with his girlfriend.)

You stated that “there is nothing legally binding him to pay you any type of support right now.” The bottom line is that the Marine Corps has a very protective policy toward spouses in this situation. Specifically, she is entitled ordinarily to interim support of $200 per family member or the basic allowance for housing at the “with dependents” rate, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of one-third of gross pay, per month.

“Comrade” should see the base legal-assistance office immediately, which will contact the unit to arrange the support payment. Alternatively, she should write to the commanding general of the Marine Corps base, who has special responsibilities under the applicable regulations; his name and address should be available from the base public-affairs office.

Oftentimes the realization that shacking up with a girlfriend has financial consequences is enough to bring the wandering spouse to his senses. If the lovesick Marine still does not provide support, he can be disciplined.

I encourage you to let “Comrade” and other spouses in similar situations know that the Department of Defense does care about them and that the regulations are largely on their side. Please keep up the great work.

- Retired JAG

c You need a bigger and better forum to give more talks about what is going on in the military. I don’t know if anyone has noticed it, but people really “tell all” to you. I think this is needed. Maybe people are disclosing all of this information to you because there is a need to be anonymous but still receive help.

I’ve been reading your column for a long time now, and it appears that the letters you receive are becoming more intense and more detailed about experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder, marriages, children and life in general. The Washington Times or someone else should consider giving you a different platform to reach the masses.

Keep up the good work, Ms. Vicki, and keep telling the truth!

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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