Marine: My Wife Is Too Controlling

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

While I was working at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps needed some guys to volunteer to go to Afghanistan for seven months on IA. I figured it was better than a legal separation or a divorce.

My wife has taken control of every aspect of my family life. She doesn’t remember that she has a husband because she is the husband now. She is the mother and the father, the husband and the wife.

She proudly says she has been a single mother, but she is lying. She is not a single mother. She is a stay-at-home mom and she is afforded the opportunity to do so because I provide financially for my family. Single mothers are out busting their butts to work and take care of children alone, and my wife doesn’t have to do this.

My wife doesn’t include me in anything. She runs the finances. She runs the social lives of our children. She doesn’t let me know when there is a soccer game or a recital. I get the information when I see it posted on a calendar, for instance.

She tells me where to be, and I show up. Every now and then, I get a husband pass when I get to appear as a husband with her holding my hand like I’m a part of her accessory package. This is usually at a church function or somewhere that she wants everyone to know that she has a husband. After my appearance, I’m placed back into the closet.

I can’t continue to live like this. My wife (or should I say my husband) doesn’t even know I sleep in a different room. Our sex life is non-existent, and there is no intimacy either.

Ms. Vicki, could you please let women know to let go of their controlling ways. Women ruin relationships and then they write and whine to you about how their husband left them without notice and filed for divorce.

There is more to the story, but they are not being honest with themselves. I don’t know where to go from here, but I’m wearing thin being in the same house with a woman/man who doesn’t even know I exist.

Sincerely,
Detached

Dear Detached,

This is difficult and it’s also serious because you are clearly getting to the end of your rope. My first suggestion is to tie a knot at the end of your rope and hang on a little longer.

 I agree that your wife is treating you like you don’t exist, but I see two sides to this story. To your wife’s credit, she became increasingly independent with every deployment as she handled the finances, made decisions, handled many roles around the house and with the children.

However, when you returned she never relinquished any part of those roles and responsibilities to you. Then again, I’m not hearing that you really stood up and tried to assume the responsibility either.

You must understand that time didn’t stand still while you were away. As a result, when you return from deployment, you have to assert yourself to get back into the family circle. I’m not blaming anyone, but I’m saying you have to accept some responsibility.

I think our servicemembers of all branches are some of the most passionate and assertive people I know. You would have to be in order to serve your country. You have to show the same assertiveness and passion when it comes to your family.

Here’s the deal: If you are working at the Pentagon, you are probably a senior NCO or a field-grade officer or higher. The biggest red flag for me is the fact that you and your wife sleep separately, with no sex life or intimacy.

You are feeling vulnerable and unappreciated by your wife. As a result, it won’t take long before you are in the arms of another woman and in her bed to make you feel like you’re a sexy, desirable man. I have no doubt that this will happen because I work with couples every day where the affair started just like your situation.

It doesn’t have to happen. My first suggestion is for you to sit down and start having conversations with your wife about your experiences since your return. Compliment her for stepping up and taking care of your family, but let her know that it’s time for her to allow you back in (this is what you want to do). Talk to her about your lack of intimacy and how this makes you feel.

Lastly, you could greatly benefit from the help of a good marriage therapist who can help you and your wife negotiate on these issues and be heard. Living in the D.C. metro area may present some challenges with finding a therapist on base. Because of this, I highly suggest that you contact Miltary OneSource and they will connect you with a provider in your local area. Most often, you can get an appointment within a few days.

I think you should take the lead with this effort and make the appointment. If your wife refuses to attend, then that’s another issue for us to discuss later but you should still speak to the professional for support and guidance. Please stay in touch with me and let me know how you are.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, is married to an active-duty Soldier and has three sons. She has a Master's of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works as a therapist with military servicemembers and their families. She provides services for a wide array of concerns such as combat stress, PTSD, couples and marital problems, depression, grief and loss, stress and coping.

Ms. Vicki also writes an advice column "Dear Ms. Vicki" that appears in the Washington Times, the Fort Campbell Courier and the Heidelberg Herald Post. Ms. Vicki also hosts an internet radio show and blogs on her community site with the Washington Times. If you want to ask Ms. Vicki for advice about your military life, please email her at AskMsVicki@military-inc.com.

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