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Transition Pushes Soldier to Breaking Point

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

This fall, my darling husband of 12 years made the transition out of active duty and is now going back to school for his graduate degree.

The past few months should have been the happiest time of our lives. He's home, no stress of deployment, and we found out right after we moved that we are expecting. I also found an amazing, but very demanding, job in my career field as a journalist.  

Every dream we had was coming true. I was so happy. I felt like I was living in a fairy tale.  

Then on Christmas Eve my husband told me he is unhappy. He told me if I wasn't pregnant, he'd leave. He said that he will leave one day.

He won't listen as I have tried to reason with him, saying that I didn't know anything was wrong and begging that he give me a chance to make him happy. 

He says the biggest problem is that he is hurt by past fights. He says the stress of fights has scarred him. The fights are usually caused by something he says that hurts my feelings, and when I bring it up, he gets frustrated that my feelings are hurt.

But I always thought even at worst, we were great. We never said hateful things to each other, were always so loving. Even now, he has been loving to me despite the fact that he appears unwilling to consider letting us, or even just me, try.

He says our love is amazing, but we don't handle life well.

I believe in love and our marriage, and I am willing to fight and work forever. What can I do to ease his hurt? If it does turn around, how can I be with a man who says he will leave me one day?

Sincerely,
Brokenhearted in Boston
 

Dear Brokenhearted,

Congratulations on your new baby. It sounds like a lot has happened lately. Moreover, it sounds like a lot has been happening over the years and things have been pushed under the carpet.

As a result of all of the pushing under the carpet, now some huge bumps have surfaced, making it very difficult for you and your husband to walk around the house without getting injured.

In other words, poor communication has caused significant problems in your marriage. Honestly, this happens all of the time. People talk around each other or at each other for years until someone reaches a breaking point or a crisis or escalation.

I get the impression there is more going on here. I don't blame you for trying to save your marriage. You should definitely fight like hell to do so.

However, I don't think you should shoulder the blame for everything. This marriage belongs to you and your husband. It will take both of you to save your marriage.

Transitions like retirement, changing jobs or job status, relocations etc. can be stressful and even affect the communication in marriages and relationships. Men mostly associate their careers with their identity and self-worth. Perhaps your husband is experiencing a midlife crisis. Women report a shift in their attitudes about marriage and being a father during this time.

However, this is not a good time for him to divorce you, if I can say it like that. There isn't ever a "good" time to divorce someone.

You are expecting a child. I know you would like for your child to have both parents in the home together raising him/her. With that said, you have to think about your child. All of the stress won't be good for the baby's health or yours. 

Here are other quick tips I think you should consider:

Get marriage therapy to help you and your husband discover exactly what is going on that's causing this huge rift between you and explore communication patterns that are causing problems in your marriage. You should try and get an appointment expeditiously. If your husband won't agree to attend therapy sessions with you, I would still suggest individual therapy for you. The therapist could provide insight and support.

Don't discuss difficult topics when you are angry. This will only cause more confusion and isolation between you and your husband. If you can't come to an agreement and see the other person's point, let it go for now.

Seek help from a trusted family member or friend who knows both of you. This person could help add calm to the situation and stop it from escalating to the point of separation or an impulsive decision to get a divorce.

Again, I'm very sorry to hear about your marriage. Please keep me informed with updates. I wish you the best. Take care of yourself and your baby.

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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