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Is This PTSD or Does He Just Want a Divorce?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

To say I am scared is an understatement. Honestly, "terrified" doesn't even begin to touch how I feel.

My husband returned from deployment May 2013 and everything was amazing. We were getting along great, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well we had adapted to him coming home. Together, we even decided to try to have another baby.

On Sept. 5, 2013, my husband sent me a TEXT at 6:45 a.m. that said he loved me but wasn’t in love anymore.

My life has been everything short of hell since. The first week was a whirlwind. One night he came home, the next he didn’t. One night he wanted to have sex with me, and the next I wasn’t supposed to touch him or look at him.

I was concerned that maybe he was cheating on me (though it would be very out of character for him) and contacted a family member of his, asking for advice.

He had shared with her scary and disturbing thoughts he had about having to do things in Afghanistan that made him very ashamed of himself, even though it was very necessary and not against any laws.

He told her he couldn’t look at me or my little boy knowing what he had done. He said he feels like an elephant in the room when he is around his family, my family, and ESPECIALLY around me.

I decided then and there to stand by his side and help him through this. That’s when I found out I was pregnant.

At first, he was OK with it. Said he was sorry that it happened and he would be there for me no matter what, but that it didn’t mean we were going to stay married -- that he still wanted a divorce.

Of course, this broke my heart so I moved out to live with my parents. My husband filed for a contested divorce and was busy telling everyone in his chain of command, all his friends, and his family that I left him, took his little boy, cheated on him, and was pregnant by another man’s baby.

I am in total disbelief. This is NOT the man I married.

He still claims the baby while talking to me. He even asked about names once or twice on the phone and asked how I was doing. But slowly, he stopped talking about it and now it’s to the point that he truly 100 percent believes that he is not the father of this baby.

I have no idea what to do. I read online a lot about PTSD and depression. Some articles said that if they don’t want to believe something, they can convince themselves it isn’t true. Is that even possible?

He calls me at 2 a.m. crying and just wanting to talk. He shows up randomly and surprises me or invites me to come down to the house to spend the day with him and just holds me.

I’m scared. I don’t believe that this is normal, that this is just who he has become. There has to be something more to it. But is it fixable? Have I done all I can do?

Sincerely,
Scared, Alone and Pregnant

Dear Scared,

I am so very sorry to hear about all of this. I have a lot of respect for you, but I have to be honest: I think your husband is playing games with you.

It is time for you to decide if you want to stay married to a man who will have you on a roller coaster ride for the duration of your marriage.

Because PTSD is real. It is an anxiety disorder. Anyone can get PTSD -- not only combat veterans. It can change behaviors.

Some servicemembers return from downrange and report feeling invincible. They may even do reckless things like speed down a highway going over 100 miles an hour.

Some of them (both men and women) cheat on their spouses or partner. They overspend. Some even report they use alcohol or other drugs to cope with symptoms.

With all of this said, do you think your husband has PTSD? If so, there is help for him. He has to accept responsibility for his symptoms and go get help.

Your husband should also accept responsibility for his actions toward you. It is like he is pulling your strings and playing games with you.

This is inappropriate. You are pregnant and you also have another child. You need his support and his commitment.

He is behaving quite immaturely: First he loves you, and then he doesn’t. First he’s smothering you with affection and then you can’t touch him.

Who knows what is going on? Overall, he is acting like he doesn’t want to be married.

Because of this, you cannot be unguarded. You should seek legal help. In my professional opinion, when a person continues to say, “I want a divorce,” they want a divorce. They will file for divorce to the dismay of their spouse.

I know it will be hard, but you must limit your stress. I hope you are still with your mother and didn’t move back with him.

Again, I’m concerned about you. I don’t think your husband has PTSD. I just think he doesn’t want to be married.

Hopefully, you can continue to get support from your loving family. Please write me again with an update.

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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