Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m a government services employee new to this area. My husband deployed shortly after we arrived. I felt lucky to get a job because I’ve always heard that your workplace on post really supports the spouses when a service member is deployed. This is not the case. My supervisor has not asked me once if I was OK or if I needed any help and hasn’t even asked about my husband. Other spouses say the same thing.

I’m not asking for anything special, but it would be nice to know my boss cares that I may get stressed out. It would be nice to know someone cares about us.

The Family Readiness Group is a joke! They send out the usual once-a-month e-mails to everyone, but that’s it. I get no support from them at all. So, where do we get it?

It is terrible to know that the Army and my boss are not what they should be. Where is the support for the spouses? Why are we just left out in the cold when our spouses are deployed? — No Love Shown

Dear Love,

I want you to know I’m on your side and that I have walked in your shoes many times. It was not easy while my husband was deployed and I did not like it. Somehow, I managed to grow as an individual, take care of my sons, work outside the home just like you, and I also kept a marginal amount of sanity.

I agree with you that it would be nice to have a boss who cares and inquires about you, your family and your well-being. In his (or her) defense, however, maybe that’s not his personality, or maybe he thinks it’s not his place or maybe he is too busy to ask. Here’s the real deal: Don’t let his actions cause any heartburn for you.

I learned that my support came from many places while my husband was deployed. I encourage you to seek out that same support to keep you grounded. It may be co-workers, a church family, neighbors, close family or friends. It may or may not be your Family Readiness Group. However, you have to know it’s out there.

Try to keep your stress level at a minimum. Read books or other materials that will inspire you and keep your spirits up. Try to get plenty of rest, eat as healthfully as possible and exercise too, even if it’s just walking 30 minutes a day. I wish you the best, and believe you can make it through this deployment.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m writing you to see if you can help me decide if my fiance is over his first wife. She was killed in action about three years ago. We’ve been engaged for a year. He still calls me by her name. He has numerous pictures of her in his house, even in his bedroom. Moreover, he takes vacations with her family. I wonder if he is still in love with her or if he loves me?

I want to tell him it’s over, but I feel like I’ve come too far to turn around. He is a great guy and I love him. I know he loved his first wife, but I want him to get over her and love me more.

Do you think that will ever happen? Am I chasing a dream?

I truly think I am living in his wife’s shadows and his love for me will always be a silhouette. Am I exaggerating, Ms. Vicki? Do you think I’m just looking for trouble, or am I on to something? Please Help. — Girlfriend in the Shadows

Dear Girlfriend,

No, I don’t think you are exaggerating. It sounds as if you are living in his wife’s shadows. I think you both have moved too fast when obviously your fiance is still in love with his wife and is still grieving her loss.

This is normal.

I think you should put the relationship and the wedding on hold. If you love him, then do this in the name of love. I don’t know when or if he will get over his wife’s death, and marrying you will not speed up the process. This is something he will have to do in his own time and with the help of a therapist who is specifically trained in grief and loss.

Let him know you love him, but there is no way you can marry him right now. Let him know he should use this time for “him.”

You also have some tough questions to ask yourself. Do you want to pretend that you don’t know he is still in love with his wife? It’s obvious from your report that he is.

Sometimes people think that getting into a quick rebound relationship will help them get over a previous relationship. Doing this, however, can cause much hurt and pain for both parties.

Do the right thing and cancel the wedding for now. Put the relationship on hold and let him work on some of these issues with a professional. You cannot be the one to help him with this issue; it’s not your lane.

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