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Did the Military Ruin My Marriage?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I just celebrated six years with my wife, who I love more than life itself.

At the beginning of our marriage, I was a civilian with a great job and I worked great shifts, with good pay and benefits. I left that for the call of the Army.

When I left, we had a one-year-old boy and my wife was pregnant with our second. My wife had a hard time having our baby without me. But her family stepped in and I can never thank them enough.

Now that we have been back together for three years, she seems like a totally different person to me.

She doesn't need me like she used to. There's not the affection that there once was. It used to be us vs. the world. Now, I feel she needs her parents more than she needs me.

It's not like we're kids anymore. We are adults. I am jealous of the relationships she has with her family.

It hurts me seeing her full of life with others and cold and nonchalant with me. She doesn't understand the way I feel, saying the relationships are not comparable and that her parents have done so much for us.

I just want back that girl who was infatuated with me and needed me. Did the military ruin my marriage? If I get out, will things go back? Can they go back? Or has the Army built up these walls in her that can't come down?

I understand that I've been gone a lot -- sometimes unexpectedly. But now I'm home. I want my family back.

I don't want to share. I don't want to lose them. I'm sorry this is so long. I don't have people I can talk to about this. It feels good to get it all out there. But it would feel better to get everything back.

Sincerely,
A Lost Husband

Dear Lost Husband,

Like you, I am grateful your wife had family who were supportive to her and your children because many people don't have that.

Now you are feeling distance or emotionally separated from your wife. To further explain, yes sometimes separations can cause an emotional gap to come between couples, but it can be mended.

You may definitely see some changes in your wife because of your absence. She is more mature, more independent and less dependent on you because she had to learn skills and adapt to your absences.

She took on new roles that could have increased her confidence. The same thing happened to me during my husband's deployments.

You don't feel like you are in the circle of trust any longer. You are getting the cold shoulder like you don't matter or like you don't exist anymore.

Honestly, I'm concerned about this too, as you are. Was your wife resentful that you accepted the Army call? Did you make a joint decision to join the Army or was this totally your decision? 

If so, she could be angry and saying, "You made this bed, now you must lie in it." Because of this, I think you should consider counseling immediately to embrace the many emotions and dynamics that are going on in your marriage.

You are feeling like your in-laws have taken your place and instead of everyone including you in the group, it's like you are outside the window looking in.

In your defense, this is not fair to you and you should know what happened. A counselor can help you and your wife with these issues. You should check on base for the availability of counseling services, someone who specializes in marriage and family therapy.

If none are available, call Military OneSource and they will connect you to a provider in your local community. If your wife won't accompany you, I think you should go alone for support.

Please write to me again and let me know how you are doing.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is 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.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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