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Is His PTSD to Blame for Him Wanting a Divorce?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I know no marriage is perfect, but I need to know if my husband's PTSD is making him push me away, drink too much, reach out to ex-girlfriends, and continue flirting with a female Marine.

My husband and I have known each other for 11 years. He enlisted in the Army in 2010, we married in 2011, lived at Fort Drum, PCS'd to Fort Huachuca in 2014 and I recently gave birth to our baby girl in October 2015.

Before I got pregnant, and even before we got married, we were having problems with his ex-girlfriends contacting him and with him reaching out to his ex-girlfriends. We got married in August 2011 in the middle of him doing a year of deployment in Afghanistan. He came home, and everything was fine. We didn't have much, but we had each other.

During those three years we were at Fort Drum, he did another deployment to Afghanistan for nine months from May 2013 to January 2014. During the deployment, he would talk to ex-girlfriends and tell them that he missed them and then he would tell me that they had reached out to him. He would talk to them whenever we had marital issues, and then later he would apologize to me for talking to them.

After we left Fort Drum, we were trying to get pregnant and succeeded in 2015. While I was pregnant, he would leave me in the house all by myself so that he could go out to clubs and get drunk every weekend. Sometimes, he would stay home playing Xbox for hours at a time, or just go to Walmart by himself to be away from me. He met a girl at the gym who is a Marine. They would meet each other at the club, and they exchanged phone numbers.

I felt so alone. We planned this baby together. I was alone, with horrible morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, and had no family near us. We started arguing more and more, and he started isolating and detaching himself from me. Eventually, I found out that he was diagnosed with PTSD. He got into a motorcycle accident, and a day later after the incident, he told me he loved me but wasn't in love with me. He told me that he hadn't been happy since we moved to Fort Huachuca.

After I had the baby, he still kept saying the same thing about not being in love with me, but that he still loved me. A month after having the baby, I thought I had postpartum depression and I was recommended for counseling. I told the therapist about everything, and she said it sounded like he was being immature, that he needed to grow up and realize that he has a beautiful family. I saw her for five weeks, and then I realized that I needed to go home to Florida. All the arguing with him was very draining physically, emotionally and mentally for me and not good for my milk supply for the baby, so I left.

I've been home for almost a month now. He told me recently that he wants a divorce, that it will be best for me and our child because he said he is unstable.

I can't figure out if he's using his PTSD as a crutch or if that really is what is making him like this. Is this really serious? In addition to serving on back-to-back deployments, he witnessed soldiers being killed in front of him and he also had a horrible childhood with abuse, foster care and his parents' failing marriage turning into a nasty divorce.

I just want to make sure I'm not being blindsided and hurt. What's your advice, Ms. Vicki?

-- Blindsided

Dear Blindsided,

I can totally understand why you are so hurt by everything. Let me first say this is not your fault, so don't blame yourself. Your husband could have PTSD. I won't deny his experiences in combat. However, he is still responsible for his behavior and his marriage. PTSD is an anxiety disorder. The people I work with who have a PTSD diagnosis are on edge, fearful, irritable and even depressed. There are other signs and symptoms of PTSD, as well, but I'm not hearing those from you.

Now, there is one big pink elephant in the living room and it's ALCOHOL. I say this because people overlook the role of alcohol all of the time. The alcohol could be driving much of his behavior.

Now, in your husband's defense, he could be using alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms. I'm not sure, but all of this spells trouble for him. He will soon start having problems not only with his marriage, but with his career, too.

I know it's tough for you because you can't make him get help; he has to do this for himself. Please allow me to be more honest with you -- you can't make him be in love with you, either. What I hear him saying with his actions is that he believes he made a mistake by marrying you and that he doesn't love you like he thinks a husband should love his wife.

Now, what I want you to do is take his diagnosis out of the picture and ask yourself this question: Do I really want to stay with someone who is not in love with me?

I can't tell you when it's time to throw in the towel on your marriage, but I will advise you to get some legal advice. Don't sign any agreements with your husband or verbally agree to anything until you speak to an attorney. I'm very happy to know that you have family and friends nearby that you can depend on during this tough time. Thank you for writing me and keep in touch when you can.

-- 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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