Sheltered, Privileged Spouse Can't Drive, Cook or Clean

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I'm a 10-year Army spouse, married to a soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I met and married my husband when I was 20 years old and attending college.

Even though I didn't finish my bachelor's degree, I knew I had to grow up fast to cope with Army life. It hasn't been easy.

I'm writing to you today because I befriended a spouse who is very needy, and I can't handle her anymore. She's almost 30 years old, and she's led a very sheltered life. This grown woman couldn't even pump gas because she had never done it before. She admitted that she was a little princess at home and that her father made her husband swear to continue treating her like a princess or he wouldn't give her hand in marriage. Her husband agreed to continue to spoil her rotten, to her detriment.

Our husbands were in the field recently, and she wanted to ride with me to the grocery store because we both live off base. Whenever she wants to go shopping, she wants me to drive her. She needs a chauffeur because she refuses to learn how to drive. She doesn't know how to cook or clean her home properly, either.

I really don't know why she got married or why her husband wanted to marry her.

I'm ready to back off now because she is overwhelming me. I don't want to continue a friendship with her. But I feel guilty about dumping her because I hate thinking that I'm letting another Army spouse down. It's just that she has so much to learn, and I'm not willing to enable her by treating her like a little girl or acting like I'm her hired help.

Should I start distancing myself? Can I do it immediately?

-- Not Down with Privileged

Dear Privileged,

I can totally understand how you feel. She sounds like she's very sheltered for a 30-year-old woman. She doesn't know how to pump gas because she doesn't drive, so she's never had to pump gas. Yes, there are many people who don't drive for many reasons, and that's OK.

I think you are concerned because she has become a burden for you because you are filling in the gap for everything that she doesn't know how to do.

I get it. You are taking care of a grown woman, and you don't want to. Well, guess what: You don't have to. On the other hand, you can't force her to learn to drive, cook, clean or do anything else.

The older I get, the more I realize how important our female-female relationships are: our relationships with our girlfriends. It is very important for them to be healthy and reciprocal in love and friendship. If one person feels overwhelmed and like they are giving 100 percent and being taken advantage of, the relationship won't last. This is what has happened with you and your friend.

Here are your options: You can talk to her and let her know that you are feeling overwhelmed with caring for her and that you feel like the chauffeur, etc. However, I don't think that will cause her to make lifestyle changes.

Or you could just stop accepting her phone calls and cease all communication with her. You are an adult, and you can do as you wish.

Maybe she is privileged and will stay that way, or maybe she could benefit from some of the many services offered at Army Community Service (ACS). A softer way for you to back away would be for you to visit the ACS center with her and help her discover what resources would be beneficial to her before you cut her off.

Thanks so much for reading the column and for writing me. Let me know how it goes.

-- Ms. Vicki

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