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He Takes His Stress Out on Me

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband seems to get very stressed out while he is away for training. I can understand that, but he has his different ways of taking his stress out on me.

I know it is just his way of distancing himself from me. He gets really upset when he is away. I'm just wondering if understanding and allowing him to treat me this way is wrong.

Sometimes, it can be hurtful and upsetting. We have talked a few times about it, but nothing really changes. I know I can't change him and I would never want to, but is it OK that this happens?


Dear Disrespected,

I can tell this situation is upsetting to you. I'm wondering what happens when your husband is upset and stressed. Is he verbally abusive? Or is he just irritable, moody and mean to you?

Either way, it's not good. You know why? Because it's upsetting to you, that's why.

My grandmother always said, "Vicki, you teach people how to treat you." So I tend to agree with you that "understanding" him might be going too far.

Perhaps he is comfortable with the way he treats you because he knows you will make excuses for him or come up with reasons why he is behaving like he does. In other words, you could be teaching him that his behavior is OK.

My mother always said, "You can show them better than you can tell them."

So you can show him differently by refusing to talk to him when he is in one of his moods.

You have to say, "I can't talk to you when you are in one of these moods. You make it difficult for me to give you any support through your difficult times ... so I'm hanging up now."

Then you have to actually hang up. CLICK!

Separations because of deployments, schools, trainings and field exercises can be tough for any couple. Being in a committed relationship means that you still have to respect each other.

If your husband is disrespecting you, you don't have to accept it. He is an adult and it's time for him to start learning some good coping skills to help him handle his stress. Please let me know how you are doing and what you decided to do.

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.