Dear Ms Vicki,
My Husband and I have been married for almost a year, but been apart for most of it. We don't argue very often, but when we do he has a really bad habit of name-calling. His parents don't have the best relationship, and I have seen first-hand them doing this to each other, so I know that is why my husband thinks it's okay but the fact is that it's not okay. It's very damaging to our relationship and to my self-esteem. I've tried everything I can think of. It's really hurtful, and I need this bad behavior of his to stop once and for all!
No More Name Calling
Dear No More,
Name-calling is very hurtful and damaging for one's self-esteem and will kill a relationship. I'm glad you are taking it so seriously. After all, would your husband call his commander a bad name? I doubt it very seriously. Would you treat an absolute stranger better than people you say you love? Some would say it takes two people to argue and call each other names. Someone has to take the high road, be mature -- and just not go there. Walking away before the escalation starts will work, and taking a time out also works. In all honestly, environment can play an important part of who we become. I'm not blaming his parents, but children often "learn what they live". Our parents give us the first example of a relationship, and even more, they help us learn how to handle conflict. Your husband could be modeling what he saw in his own home. If that's true he can still choose to be different.
I think you should definitely consider counseling. Check on base for the availability of marital counseling on base. If your husband does not want to attend, I think you should go alone. You could use the support and insight from a good therapist. If no services are available on base then check with TRICARE at 877-874-2273 for the option to be referred to a provider in your local community, or Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 -- they can do the same. Please let me know how you are doing. I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me and for reading the column. Please keep in touch.
Dear Ms. Vicki,
I am trying to get help for the wife of a retired (30 yr active duty) 1SGT in Orlando, FL. The 1SGT passed away seven months ago and left behind a wife with two adult handicap dependents, and she is about to lose their house/home. She claims that she didn't know that he could have been buried at the national cemetery here in Florida, at no cost to her. She claims that she spent all her savings on the burial. The adult children lived with the 1SGT during his active duty but now she claims not to be able to provide for them. Something is wrong here. There is a large retired community here in Orlando but no one seems to know where to get help for this Army family. The widow speaks little English.
A Concerned Friend
Thank you for taking the time to write to me. This is a great question. I have three resources listed below. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will let her know if the family has any additional entitlements coming to them and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is great about connected families to resources. I also have the Department of Human Services (DHS) number listed. You may want to contact them and ask about different services like respite care for children who have special needs. If you have the opportunity, please contact me again and let me know what information you discover. Keep in touch.
VFW: (407) 649-8995 - 930 W Michigan St, Orlando, FL
DHS in Orlando: 407-836-3111
Dear Ms. Vicki,
I am engaged to be married to a wonderful man (Ret. Army Major). Unfortunately, he is still married but has been legally separated from is present wife since 2008. We re-connected in 2010 at a high school class reunion. Actually we knew each other since 6th grade but went on different paths after high school. He is disabled due to service injuries that are progressively worsening. The reason for his divorce was due to the infidelity of his wife and her abandonment of him. He was married to her for 17 of his 21 years in service but ended up giving her 50% of his pension, social security and disability. As his disabilities progress, he will need more assistance. Unfortunately, the military has made provisions to protect the spouse of military personnel but failed to protect the servicemen being wronged in a divorce. We have heard of a proposed bill, h.r. 72, protecting the serviceman from a re-married spouse collecting military pension. Do you have any information regarding such a bill? Your assistance with this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Yes I've heard of HR 72. It's the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Equity Act of 1999. Unfortunately, this bill never made it to law. I'm a little confused in your letter: is he married but separated or divorced? Honestly, this letter sounds familiar to me. It's either the servicemember who believes he was wronged in a relationship, marriage or divorce or it's the spouse who expresses the same. Because of this, I would much rather focus on you. You appear to be happy about your reconnection with him and your engagement, but my advice to you would be to take it slow for now. Don't rush the relationship, especially if he is still married and second, because he appears to have a lot of health problems. Please allow me to be honest: all of these problems could become yours. Please don't take this as a disparaging remark against your beau. I don't mean it that way. I only think you should be prepared for the reality of a relationship with him. Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and for reading the column. I appreciate your support. Keep in touch when you can.
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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.