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After 25 Years, Never Saw Divorce Coming

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I think the Navy helped to keep my marriage together. At the same time, it helped to ruin my marriage too.

I was served divorce papers two months ago, and I never saw it coming. My husband cites irreconcilable differences, but he won’t tell me what the differences are -- only that we have grown apart.

He spent much of the last 20 years away from me. How were we supposed to grow together? He would take every assignment and would take extra assignments that would keep him at sea when he didn’t have to.

He is right, we don’t know each other, but I thought maybe now that all of our children are away and on their own, we could get to know each other again. At least I was willing to give it a try to grow our relationship.

Instead, he wants to cut and run when I have invested 25 years into our relationship with nothing to show for it besides being the wife of a Chief/E-7.

Maybe I ignored warnings years ago when he became more and more distant from me and more involved with his work. I haven’t signed anything and my husband is furious, saying I am being childish and manipulative.

I told him we should invest in counseling to try and save our marriage, but he flat out refuses to go. So I’m refusing to sign anything until he comes to his good senses and treats me fairly. I think I deserve as much.

What do you think I should do? I don’t have anywhere to go, and I have very little money saved with my very sparse work history. He wants me out of the house as we speak and says everything belongs to him because he purchased everything with his hard-earned money. Can he do this to me?

Shocked in San Diego

Dear San Diego,

A military marriage has unique challenges when compared to the civilian population. Long separations can be a time of individual growth that strengthens marriages. Yet the separations can bring more distance and isolation from each other.

I talk to many people who say that after 20-plus years of marriage and a military career they didn’t even know each other. Perhaps the separations provide an outlet that distracts the couple from facing problems instead of joining together to solve them.

I don’t mean to be hurtful toward you because you have every right to try and save your marriage, but it appears that your husband has moved on and is no longer invested in saving this marriage.

For this reason, you can’t sit back hoping he changes his mind or as you say “comes to his good senses.” This will never happen, and you could be left with a divorce and never receive a proper financial settlement.

I don’t want you to be in a potentially dangerous situation, but he can’t ask you to leave your home and become homeless. It’s your home too.

Furthermore, I don’t think you should sign anything either. I think you should get legal advice immediately. You should visit the legal office on base and contact Military OneSource for assistance too. You can call them 24/7 for support and resources.

Saving a marriage takes two people. I know this is difficult and stressful. I hope you have close friends and family who can help you at this difficult time. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.

Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki, a native of Dallas, has been the ‘Dear Abby’ for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.