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Vicki: Stayed Home in U.S., Now Left Behind Forever?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I have been married for almost eight years. We have two children together and we just recently started purchasing a house. He has been in South Korea now for eight months. We had made the decision not to uproot our daughter who would be starting her first year of school. He wanted to come back to the base we were stationed at, so we decided the kids and I would stay behind for a year while he did his duty. 

He said he didn't want to go and everything was fine when he left. We had no marital issues whatsoever. At first he was constantly telling me how much he loved me and missed me.

About four months into his absence I tried calling him one day because our daughter had broken her wrist and she wanted to speak with her daddy. I called and called. The doctors were talking about doing surgery on our daughter's hand, and she still just wanted to hear from him. Finally, he told me that I just need to leave him alone. He didn't listen to anything I had to say. 

Now one minute he is telling us that he misses us and me so much that he is begging us to come over there to visit, and then the next minute he is telling me that he wants a divorce and that he already has the paperwork. I never know from one day to the next if he's going to tell me he loves me or if he is going to scream and curse at me.

At one point, he stopped telling me he loved me altogether. He told me that he didn't want to say it and get my hopes up, so until he figured things out he wasn't going to say it. The last time we talked he told me that he doesn't hate me, that he does love me, he just isn't sure if he is in love anymore. I told him I felt like a lot of his issues are the distance and that he does miss us and that maybe when he gets back stateside he will feel relief and his feelings will change. I said that we shouldn't make a permanent decision based on a temporary situation. He said maybe I was right.

I could still tell he was holding something back. I told him he could tell me anything and eventually he told me that he was angry and upset. He said he had met this E3 (my husband is an E6) and he would talk to her about things between him and I and she would give him my perspective on things. 

Then last week they both got pulled aside and told they were not to have any more contact with each other. Rumors had been spread around that they were sleeping together and they are both married soldiers. Now she won't have anything to do with him and he is angry. I told him that it felt to me like there was more to the story. I asked him how he felt about her, if he liked her more than friends. He came back with “I don't know.”  I really feel that there is something more going on that he isn't telling me, and I don't know what to do. We were going to go visit him over the Christmas holidays, and just recently he started screaming and yelling at me that he didn't agree to spend that money, and it wasn't his responsibility and I was taking away from him doing what he wanted to do.

I am so very confused. I know that he has anxiety problems. He has said that he would rather jump out of his ninth story window than go back to work. I am very, very worried. He has stressed to me that I should not go to his chain of command as it would ruin his career. I don't want to ruin his career, but something very wrong is going on. I need to protect my children and myself, but I feel like I should protect him, too. Even if he is cheating, he is still the father of my children. No matter what the issue, I feel in my heart that we are headed to divorce. I love him with everything I have, but it's exhausting to try and think of ways for him to stay. I would rather devote that time to my children. 

He has always been the breadwinner of the family, and I have just recently started back to work.  I don't make much money, but I felt that I needed to do something to earn a living to take care of my children. I don't know who I should talk to, what I should say, or what I should do. I don't want it to seem like I am being petty and trying to get back at him, because I'm not.

Will I be angry to find out that he has been cheating? Absolutely -- as well as hurt. But this is more than about my feelings. This is our children's lives, his life, our life. I need to have some sort of closure, and I need to get him some help. But I don't know where to go.

I mostly feel like I am going out of my mind because I can't find anyone to talk to. I have my family and his family. We do have friends, but they are friends to us both and don't want to get involved. The behavioral clinic on post says they do not take civilians, and I went through resources on post and tried to get in contact with therapists and counselors in my area, but there aren't many. I went to one and I did not feel comfortable with her. I am seriously afraid for my sanity right now, and I feel like I have nowhere to turn.

Sincerely,
Alone and depressed

Dear Alone,

Your husband may be experiencing anxiety but that's because he's an NCO who has obviously been inappropriate with a female junior enlisted soldier. I imagine this would provoke a lot of anxiety, especially when he has a wife and children at home waiting for him to return! I think you know what is going on in South Korea. You are not crazy.

Now here's the deal: your husband won't be the first man to cheat on his wife. For the record, many women cheat on their husbands, too. I know hundreds of couples who have survived cheating scandals, children outside of their marriage and more. They saved their marriage and their relationship became stronger. Yours can too.

However, what I really don't like, and what really sends a huge red flag, is his verbal abuse towards you and the fact that he is being so indecisive. I don't like that he's saying “I love you” then “I don't love you” and “I want you to come to Korea” then “you're not my responsibility”. This says to me that your marriage could very well be over because he's not sure what he wants.

At this point, you should be his first priority -- you and the children. Instead, he's playing mind games with you. His mind games are making you second guess yourself and it's ruining your self-esteem and your self-worth. I don't know how much longer he is going to be in Korea. Hopefully, it's a one year tour and he will be home in a few months. In the meantime, I think you should continue to work because you have to be able to take care of yourself and your children. In addition to working, you should also consider taking a certificate course at your local community college to increase your skills and make a good salary.

I agree that finding a good therapist would be very beneficial to you. If you didn't like the first therapist you met with, that's okay -- just find another one. I'm glad that you have family and friends who can be supportive to you.

Regarding what to do about your husband: you don't have to rush to make any decisions. Don't pressure this situation. You don't have to go to Korea to visit because eventually he will have to leave Korea. If he serves you with any papers, you don't have to sign anything.

Lastly, you should make an appointment with the legal office on your base for more information and guidance on this situation. They will give you a consultation. I hope you and your children will be ok. Please keep in touch with me.

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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