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Ask Ms. Vicki: Tough Marriages

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I know you are an extremely busy individual and I respect you for that, and the advice I have read. Since being in Hawaii I have tried to fill out job applications to no available slots. My husband is a great Sgt and an incredible father. I find myself hating that he has income and I do not. He did not even give me an allowance. My duties are to clean and raise our child. Most women should be grateful, but when you have to beg or nag about needing money it grows tiring. I cannot even buy my husband a gift without telling him what I am using it for and him seeing it beforehand. I have been missing home and my family, where the jobs are easier to come by. I absolutely miss that.

I feel like our whole relationship is not the same. I have tried to be grateful but every time we get on an argument, he says any and everything to make me feel guilty, from things like me being stupid or having no ambition. I went from working 35 hours of retail to bring stuck in a house every day except grocery day. I do not have a car, or money to do anything for my family or even for myself. I hate the woman I see -- not even a shadow of the proud woman I used to be.  I am trying to be a dutiful wife but just because we have a child together is that a reason to stay and feel hollow. We argue all the time with a few good days but I just cannot keep living like this.

Should I keep being his dutiful wife? I would love to get a job, but my husband will not fill out the child care information inquiring about his work. It keeps getting put off. I have no friends and the only time I can leave the house area is if he is in the mood. I have a bike but it's always too hot to take a three year old all across base. I just feel lonely, dumb and useless.

Sincerely,
Useless Wife

Dear Useless,

One thing that stands out in your letter is the way you speak of yourself. It is evident that you have lost your self-esteem and self-worth because you are a housewife, or stay-at-home mother. It appears that you are projecting the way you feel about yourself onto your husband because you want his actions to validate the way you feel about yourself. Let me be perfectly clear though: If you feel bad about who you are, it doesn't give him the right to call you stupid. His words not only validate what you're feeling but makes it worse. As a result, you're in a downward spiral.

Being a stay-at-home mom or dad is an honorable position and a very important one. You should not feel ashamed of this. Many military spouses totally understand your dilemma of wanting to work and earn your own income. In your defense, your husband should not make you feel worthless because you are not contributing financially to the household. He should be more supportive. If you think that he is using your current situation to his advantage and as a measure of control, then that a totally different issue that should be discussed in therapy or counseling. Living in Hawaii can be very difficult for military spouses and families. If you are not from the West Coast then it can be quite costly and very far from home, so I understand that you must feel isolated and lonely. I see no reason that you cannot complete the paperwork for child care without your husband. You must begin to connect with the military base community and your local community too. Moreover, you have to know that you may have to accomplish this with or without your husband's help. However, you reported earlier that he is a great father. A great father would be willing to help his wife and the mother of his children.

Contact your family services offices on base and ask about educational services, family member employment, child care service and the sign up process, as well as volunteer services (for example, it would be ACS if you are Army, Marine and Family Services for the Marines, and Airmen and Family Services for the Air Force). Moving to a new location can be a tough transition, especially when you are moving a long way from family, close friends and a job that you loved. I hope you can gain confidence and accept the challenge of moving forward by connecting with others. Please keep in touch with me and give me updates.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms Vicki,

My daughter's husband is stationed at a US Air force Base. He has been verbally abusive, threatening her and threatening to kill himself. Finally, she moved out with their one year-old son. Since then, he has let the air out of her tires, and he knows where, when and what she eats. He has shown up at her work after dark waiting in the parking lot. He just last night threw a toy at her TV and shattered it. He sends 50 texts a day and if she doesn't respond he will call excessively until she does. She has no family in Colorado and wants to leave the state to get away from him.

I tried to reach the commander and he was out for the Christmas Holiday and so I asked for an email. They gave what was obviously a general mail box. I asked for one directly to him and was told I had to tell them what it was regarding. I gave them the same information I just gave you and no identifying information. I didn't get the email, and within the hour her husband called her screaming and freaking out. She has been to JAG...no help. He has said he put in a false police report that she hit him. He demands access to her and the child at all times. The baby has been injured twice in his care!  The second time he couldn't even be bothered to give the child medical attention.

She wants to leave the state but he won't give permission and Colorado law will not allow her to leave, and she's been told he would get custody and she would never see her son again. What do we do?

Sincerely,
Daughter's Keeper

Dear Daughter's Keeper,

This is terrible and sounds very dangerous. First of all, I think your daughter should contact a Victims Advocate. They work expeditiously in these matters on behalf of the person in danger and the children too. Is she living near an Air Force base or Army base? If it's the former, she needs to contact the Army Community Service. If it's an Air Force base then it's Airmen and Family Readiness. The Victims Advocate will advise her of the reporting rights and directly contact commanders. In the meantime, she should know to contact the local police and file a report and the military police too about his behavior. Contact his commander again -- if his commander is absent there is always an officer or NCO in charge. His behavior should be reported and not tolerated. In my professional opinion he should not be around her and she should return to home. Two more things, if you are concerned that your grandchild's safety may be in jeopardy, then I think you should make a report to Child Protective Services. Make the report to them and let them decide if they need to follow up with your son-in-law and your daughter regarding the child. Lastly, she can contact Military OneSource 24/7 for resources, advice and assistance. Their number is 800-342-9647. I hope your daughter and her child are doing okay since you wrote to me. Please let me know how everything is going. Thank you for caring.

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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