Dear Ms. Vicki,
I have been married to a military man for 21 years. He initially said he would complete his obligation on his commission and get out. Now after four deployments to Iraq and two-and-a-half long years in Afghanistan, I need a change.
Four of our children are adults and our twins start college this year. I am tired and bored. I need to have time to pay attention to my health and goals now.
I am considering not PCSing with him to his next assignment. I would go back to Texas where I came from to take classes and decide on the next chapter of my career. My husband says he can fly out periodically.
I hate the idea of us living apart but know many have done this and guess it would be easier than if he were in Afghanistan another year. What do you think?
Sincerely, Wanting To Pursue My Goals
You really raise some good points in your letter. I know you asked me what I thought about your idea of not PCSing with your husband to his next duty station.
I gather that your husband has been on active duty much longer than he initially said or that he is at a point in his career that he could retire but he doesn't want to just yet, right?
You could even feel that you have given so much for his career and neglected some of the dreams and goals that you wanted to pursue. In some ways, you sound like you are battle weary from multiple deployments. It has been exhausting.
You should know there are military spouses around the globe who understand how you feel and the many emotions you are experiencing.
As life would have it, you have been through many transitions of marriage and child rearing. Now your children have launched. They are adults and out of the home. Now you are an "empty nester," too.
This brings a different set of emotions, because in addition to being a supportive wife you have also been a supportive mother. With that said, "Now what?"
Well, you are saying you can't face another transition, another move, another "starting over" when your heart is not in it.
I want you to keep two things in mind. First, you can't let your relationship suffer at this point in your marriage because you have been through too much together as a couple. Second, you can still pursue your passion and your dreams in any location.
OK, I said all of that to say this -- and please allow me to be honest. You are probably a more mature married couple who can weather the storms of distance between you.
However, distance and separation is not good for any couple, no matter how old you are or the length of your marriage.
I know you are saying, "Ms. Vicki, I trust my husband and he trusts me, too."
Good! But stay together. The "clean-up" woman loves the "geo-bachelors." ( Jeesh! I'm telling my age but my mother used to sing this song called "The Clean Up Woman" by Betty Wright. Here's a verse of the lyrics: "A clean up woman/Is a woman who/ Gets all the love we girls leave behind/ the reason I know/ So much about her/ is because she picked up/ a man of mine.")
On the other hand, maybe you feel somewhat unappreciated and that makes you vulnerable. I hope you are not very surprised that I am taking this angle, but I see so much of this every day when I visit with couples of all ages and ranks.
You want your husband to retire and you need to "help him see it like you see it." Right now, he doesn't get it. Give him reasons why the time is now for him to retire and for the both of you to embark on a new phase of life together.
If he disagrees or "just can't see it" and you decide to move back to your home town or to a place where you want to live, you need to build a strong wellness plan of support: family, friends, health and wellness and spiritual support.
You should also consider spending a few days at a spiritual retreat where you can get some quiet time to think and rejuvenate. Just know that I understand and I'm on your side. Please let me know what you decide to do.
Sincerely, Ms. Vicki