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He Seesaws Between Staying and Going

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I have been married for several years. Every time he deployed, I remained faithful, honest, trusting, loving and supportive. Four deployments later, he has decided he "can't live like this anymore."

All was going great until earlier this year, after he came home for his block leave. He started going to bars more than he used to and he told me he met someone.

Then on our anniversary, he told me how sorry he was and that he wanted me and our family back.

Then he told me he has a girlfriend.

Then he told our daughter that he is so sorry, he is numb and he still loves and cares about all of us.

He goes back and forth, back and forth as to what he wants to do. He has been diagnosed with PTSD. For the longest time, I honestly believed that was what was causing his actions.

I am beyond heartbroken. Yet I am not stupid and I was not born yesterday. How does he expect us to have a great future if he can't make up his own mind?

I have done up the legal separation paperwork because he again stated to our daughter he doesn't want to file for divorce.

Am I the only person who sees this as complete and utter nonsense? Or could it be that he is really going through the phases of PTSD and is too ashamed? 

Sincerely,
Judy

Dear Judy,

It sounds like you have been through hell and back with your husband. He seems to be straddling the fence more than suffering from PTSD.

I'm not saying that your husband doesn't have PTSD. There are men, women and children from all walks of life who are diagnosed with PTSD. It is an anxiety disorder and anyone who experiences a traumatic event or even watches another person experience a traumatic event could develop PTSD.

Now, in your husband's defense, anxiety disorders can cause a person to be more indecisive, irritable, experience sleeplessness etc. All of these things can affect our judgment.

People may even use drugs and alcohol to help them cope with the symptoms of PTSD (e.g., nightmares and flashbacks).

So let's just say all of these factors together have made your husband so vulnerable that he found himself in the arms of another woman.

The truth is that he is still capable of giving another woman what he should be giving to you -- his love and affection. That belongs to you and your daughter, not another woman.

PTSD is treatable, and marriages can survive infidelity. I have seen marriages emerge stronger from a deep darkness of ugliness.

For this to happen, however, your husband will have to be committed to saving his marriage and agree to individual and marriage therapy. Furthermore, he will have to cease all contact with the other woman, including no phone calls, text messaging, emails, Facebook, Twitter -- nothing.

You could also benefit from individual therapy for support. It sounds like you are probably blaming yourself for what is happening with your husband.

I don't blame you for filing for a legal separation. Often times, military spouses sit back and wait, hoping their service member comes to their good senses and stops the affair.

Well, many times that doesn't happen and the military spouse will be left high and dry while their husband or wife has moved on with someone else.

Don't let this happen to you. Get him to agree to therapy or move forward with your legal separation. I hope I have been helpful in some way. Let me know what you decide to do.

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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