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Vintage Vicki: Treating Me Like a Friend, Not a Wife

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I read the Dear Ms. Vicki page in the Heidelberg Herald Post when I attended high school. I always thought your advice was amazing. That being said, I am now a new military spouse and my husband is in the Army.

We have been separated since June 2012 shortly after graduation with only visits here and there. When we got married last October, we got to spend only four days together. Now he is stationed in South Korea.

I really thought I could deal with the separation since he and I had been separated before. And things were fine until he went to the field beginning of last month. Since then, things have changed with him.

I'm not 100 percent sure how to explain it, but he seems more distant. Although he calls me every day, lately he has been treating me more like a friend than his wife.

I have tried to bring this to his attention several times, but each time it just leads to a fight. He gets mad at me for not seeing that he is trying or that I expect too much of him.

In March, I sent him a care package to cheer him up, but when I asked him about it after he returned he didn't seem enthusiastic at all and stated a lot of the things in it were pointless.

I just feel lost. Words of affection no longer seem to be in his vocabulary and I don't know how to change that since talking to him about it apparently does not work. What can I do so that my husband starts treating me like his wife again instead of just a friend?

Sincerely,
Wife, Not Friend

Dear Wife,

It sounds like you and your husband are coping with a lot of stress from the separations. Let's face it: We marry because we want to spend time with our spouse -- a lot of time.

You have spent more time apart than together.

Honestly, it's not a good way to start a marriage because the distance and the miles between a couple can become an emotional gap. An emotional gap can lead to emotional distance.

There are ways to deal with this. Right now, you and your husband are both coping with stress and anxiety. You are worried and wondering about him.

He could be wondering what is going on with you, too. After all, he is miles away in a chosen career that has him separated from the woman he loves. He is trying to cope with being separated from you. He may be coping with his feelings by "not talking."

However, you want his time and attention. You want to talk, so any attention, even bad attention, is better than no attention, right?

You and your husband will have to learn to talk to each other and not "at" each other. If he left in October, this is the "halfway" point. Maybe he will be coming home for leave. This will allow opportunity for you to spend time together and strategize ways to handle the last six months of his tour in South Korea.

Sometimes, silence can be OK. Be willing to accept his silence because it's better than arguing. Try using Skype, OVOO or other ways to connect across the miles that enable you to see each other as well as hear each other.

Remember, you miss being in each other's presence, so being able to see each other could ease anxiety and the stress of not being together. This could increase positive communication and decrease tension and the tendency to argue.

Lastly, know that what you are experiencing is very common with newlyweds. Marriage is different from dating. This is the real work of making a relationship solid.

This is your first experience of being away from your husband. As you know, being an Army wife you will have more of the same in the future. It's important that you build a network of support that includes family and friends to help you manage the stress of separation from your husband. It will get better and you will get stronger.

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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