I can handle all of this, but the infidelity stings. The fact that he generally crowd-sources emotional support and looks everywhere but home for companionship stings. I read all of those “cheaters” forums that basically encourage snooping to keep the relationship honest, and I gave it a whirl. It wasn’t pretty and I want to change my behavior, but when I do get a spark of hope that things could be better, the reality of it all comes back into focus when another string of late nights or training cycles occur and I get proof-positive that his behavior hasn’t changed. I want to stop the snooping and I want to stop caring so much. I don’t want it to hurt in my heart of hearts, but I don’t know what to do either. Any advice? — Lonely Military Spouse
You have a lot on your plate and it sounds like you’ve been dealing with it all on your own for a long time. While your husband is crowd-sourcing emotional support, where are you turning to get yours? Because you do need it, you know. Because you aren’t a machine. You’re human. And, of course, you’re sick and tired of all the sacrifices you’ve made as a military spouse when the sacrifices go unappreciated and ignored and the rewards seem pitiful in comparison. To see your husband so rarely and to feel so disconnected from him when you are together? Yeah, I can understand why you’d be putting up walls and shutting down emotionally.
But, look, that’s not going to get you anywhere. In fact, you need to do the opposite if you’re to have any hope of saving your marriage, and most importantly, saving your sanity. You need to open up and make yourself emotionally vulnerable. You need to turn to the person who has hurt you the most — your husband — and express your pain. You need to share your disappointments and fears and frustrations, and the two of you need to make a plan to get your relationship back on track.
As a military spouse, you have a lot of resources to help you. You can reach out to other military spouses who share many of your experiences and a lot of your feelings. You can join or start a mother’s group to give and share parenting support when your husband isn’t around to share the load. You can visit your local military family support center and look into counseling services as well as other resources available to you (for free!). A quick Google search of “military spouse support” yielded several results, including Military Spouse Help, which includes a link to career networks for spouses, as well as links to other helpful websites and forums where you can connect with others dealing with similar challenges.
Your husband is asking a lot of you, I know, but most of what you describe is a life you signed on for when you married a military man. The long deployments, the frequent moves, the full-time single parenting are all just part of the deal. And if, after having experienced the reality of military life, you’ve realized it’s not for you, it’s time to have some serious discussions with your husband. Together, you need to decide what the best move forward is for your family. Maybe it’s a trial separation. Maybe it’s a career change. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting more emotional support and gratitude for the sacrifices you make.
But the one thing you’ve mentioned that isn’t something a military spouse signs on for when she says, “I do” is the infidelity. That’s a gross abuse of your marriage vows and one you need to address. Infidelity is not “unavoidable.” But if someone is cheating, and your marriage is cracking under the strain of military life and emotional disconnectedness, you have to be proactive in making a change. Both of you. It will not get better if you keep shutting down, and it won’t get better if you assume all the responsibility of behavior change. Your husband certainly has some behavior traits he needs to own and change himself.
Get some marriage counseling. Let a professional who is well-seasoned at helping military families give you the tools you need to save your marriage if it’s salvageable. And if it’s not, get the support you need to start a new life for yourself and your kids, making peace with the fact that sometimes you just don’t know what you’re getting into until you get into it, and it’s not a failure to get out once you realize it’s not for you.
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Sunshine Brite February 25, 2013, 9:05 am
Remind yourself that emotions are okay and practice letting them in. Have those discussions Wendy recommended. And absolutely build your support up.
artsygirl February 25, 2013, 9:08 am
My uncle (air force) started cheating on my aunt within a month of them marrying. He would often be assigned to a base ahead of the family moving and apparently his first act when arriving on new soil was to remove his wedding ring in order to pick up women. My aunt knew about the cheating and no matter how much she begged and threatened he refused to stop. She stuck with him hoping it would get better until about 10 years into the marriage. At the time, my uncle’s mistress was the wife of a subordinate and she intentionally had them get ‘caught’ by her husband. In order to avoid the scandal my uncle divorced my aunt and then married his (now divorced) mistress. In the end, my aunt admits she should have walked away years before because my uncle was never going to stop and invest in the marriage. LW – if your husband refuses to meet you halfway don’t stick around trying to make it work.
katie February 25, 2013, 9:39 am
wow, that is so messed up!
where have you gotten the idea of “almost unavoidable infidelity”? i want to know who planted that seed. was it your parents? friends? your own husband? the culture where you are/come from? infidelity is NOT unavoidable. its not a definite thing, its not something that just *happens* to people- its a choice. its a choice that your husband is making, obviously, and its a choice that you are just accepting as regular life! it doesnt have to be that way… it absolutely doesnt.
also, you shouldnt have to snoop to keep your relationship honest. where is the trust in that situation? are you going to snoop for the rest of you marriage, keeping your husband in check? i wouldnt want that life, and im glad that you dont either. and, better yet, it doesnt have to be that way! you can have a great relationship with a good man who you wont have to snoop on to make sure he’s being honest- there are men out there who are just come honest. i really dont think that you can turn your husband into that man, but they are out there.
you can have a happy life. its out there. but you need to put in the effort as well. if he isnt willing, well- theres your answer.
TECH February 25, 2013, 9:47 am
“making peace with the fact that sometimes you just don’t know what you’re getting into until you get into it, and it’s not a failure to get out once you realize it’s not for you.”
I love this ending. It’s a true statement for just about anything in life.
Kate February 25, 2013, 9:49 am
I kind of know what the OP means by “almost unavoidable infidelity.” My ex-husband, who I married when I was 21 and he was 24, was in the Air Force for 4 years, and we lived in Europe during the Bosnia situation when a lot of stuff was going down, and then at Langley AFB in VA.
Anyway, I was really struck by what seemed to be conflicting messages in the Air Force culture. First, they very much seemed to be pushing family values. They wanted people to get married… If you weren’t married, you had to live in the crappy dorms on base, but if, say, you married your high school girlfriend and brought her over there, bam, you got a great apartment off base and higher pay. So I think there was a lot of incentive for people to get married who maybe shouldn’t have, or they got married for the wrong reasons. Then it felt like they were pushing you to have kids… You got an extra allotment for each child.
But what really seemed weird to me was that with all that focus on families, they were constantly shipping one spouse or another off to Temporary Duty (TDY) for weeks or months at a time. And everybody cheated it seemed like. Even couples who seemed to really have something great with each other, you’d find out he or she cheated. It was rampant. My husband did not cheat on me that I know of, but there was certainly plenty of opportunity. In a way it DID feel unavoidable, like a rotten part of the culture that no one was doing anything about.
Anyway, just wanted to put that perspective out there. Otherwise I agree with Wendy’s advice to the OP.
Kate February 25, 2013, 9:53 am
Oh, and I would also like to add: There were counseling resources on base. I did see a counselor at one point because I felt like, “what am I doing? why did I get married? Is this right? Should I get out now?” (I didn’t have kids, but I remember feeling like, “maybe I should have a baby. that seems to be the thing to do, and what else am I going to do over here.”) The counselor was basically like, “well listen, neither of you have majorly betrayed the other one, so just sit tight and don’t do anything rash – figure this out when you get back to the states.” I mean, I think that was sound advice, and she probably had good experience counseling people who DID have major betrayals in their marriage, because it was unfortunately extremely common. The service was free. I’m sure the OP has already checked out those services, but if not, it’s probably a good resource.
Rachel March 4, 2013, 3:19 pm
I think that’s terrible advice from the counselor. If you have a major problem such as serial cheating, you had better confront it head on in the prescence of a non-moronic counselor and talk about it.
Kate August 21, 2021, 10:33 am
Why was that terrible advice from the counselor? We *didnt* have a major problem, so she said to sit tight for a bit.
The counselor was free and gave me good advice, and I imagine the same would be true if my situation were different. She would have tailored the advice to the situation.
katie February 25, 2013, 9:54 am
yea, i have heard about this dynamic, and it is terrible. i have a huge, huge problem with that extra pay for spouse/kids thing. but, thats like 1 of a million things i have issues with the military, lets be honest…
iwannatalktosampson February 25, 2013, 11:15 am
Yeah I was going to comment something similar but don’t know exactly how to express how I feel about it. I just know that reading what Kate described makes my skin crawl.
karenwalker February 25, 2013, 2:11 pm
well, i think that kind of makes sense. military pay isn’t great. if you have extra mouths to feed, clothe, etc… it makes sense they’d give you more money or else it’d be hard to keep people who want families. it can also be difficult for spouses to find jobs and be able to contribute financially
katie February 25, 2013, 2:41 pm
yea, thats great and all, except for it discriminates against people without families, and its somehow ok because its the military.
also, thats great in theory, but what it actually does is drive people to get married and have kids before they should be. ive seen that happen way to many times, and ive never seen it work out “in theory”
tbrucemom February 25, 2013, 6:01 pm
While I can understand why someone is opposed to war, I can’t for the life of me understand why people make the comments like I hear on this website that are so anti-military. What exactly is the problem you have with them? They risk their lives for not a lot of money and you begrudge them the extra they get when they have a family. I’d make a bet you have no problems with people who don’t want to work collecting welfare, giving money to people who come here illegally, and I’m sure you’re more than happy to receive your free birth control and health care.
BreezyAM February 26, 2013, 2:18 pm
Personally, I don’t think people with families should be serving. Yes really. No we do not need that big of a force.
BriarRose February 25, 2013, 1:51 pm
It is absolutely untrue that you get extra money for each additional child. There is a difference in BAH (basic allowance for housing) if you have dependents or not, but it is a flat amount whether you have one dependent (a spouse) or four dependents (a spouse and three children). And it’s typically about $200 more than a single soldier gets, so obviously it’s some, but not enough to justify having a bunch of kids. Sadly, lower enlisted soldiers with families are usually pretty bad off, financially.
BriarRose February 25, 2013, 2:00 pm
Also, hope that didn’t sound rude or harsh, as I didn’t mean it that way. Just seems like a very misunderstood aspect of military life.
Jenny February 25, 2013, 2:15 pm
Yeah, I also commented to say the same thing, but I wasn’t sure if maybe it’s different in other branches. We don’t get any extra pay for having a child.
Kate February 25, 2013, 2:29 pm
My personal experience was in the 1990s, and it was a NATO base overseas that didn’t have on-base housing. I may have mis-spoken that enlisted people’s actual pay increased as their family got larger, but if I understood and recall the situation correctly, you got a larger living allowance if you had more dependents. I do know that just for getting married, my husband was able to move out of the run-down dorms and we got $600 per month to spend on an apartment. It got us a pretty nice place off-base, and as I recall the housing allowance had different levels depending on your financial situation. I definitely felt a strong sense that traditional family values, and having children, were encouraged.
Kate February 25, 2013, 2:35 pm
*family situation, not financial situation
BriarRose February 25, 2013, 3:03 pm
Well I certainly can’t speak to how it was in the 1990s, but these days, if you live on post or in dorms, etc, you do receive BAH…it’s just that the military just takes it right back as “rent”. So enlisted soldiers today may live in barracks and feel they are living there for free, but they’re not. They’re paying rent/utilities just as they would off post. A family with dependents who lives on post will also not receive any housing allowance. Once you move off post, single or married, you will start to receive BAH. For an E-4 living near Ft. Bragg, NC, they will get $147 more with dependents. So in this day and age, definitely not much inspiration to have a ton of kids, haha!
I remember the saying “if the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one”. The military claims to support/encourage families, but these days, with ridiculous deployment cycles, what they say and what they actually do doesn’t really seem to match up.
Debbie August 20, 2021, 10:58 pm
The military stopped paying BAH (formerly known as BAQ) for each child in the early 1980s. There is BAH and BAH with dependents.
Anonymous August 20, 2021, 11:01 pm
I was at Langley AFB at the same time as Kate and I didn’t see that behavior with the people I associated with. There’s glass bowls everywhere but you don’t have to spend time with them off duty.
Kate August 21, 2021, 10:01 am
Oh, so at Langley! I had a job as a server at the Don Pablo’s in Newport News. Other military spouses worked there too, and two of my fellow servers, both married, were having an affair with each other. Also, everyone used to go drinking after work and end up playing strip poker and stuff. Not me, but yeah.
Kate August 21, 2021, 10:03 am
Also, love looking back at this thread and seeing people telling me that my experience wasn’t really the experience. Like, sorry if you think you were happily married with no shenanigans, and maybe you were, but yes, this behavior was common.
Kate August 21, 2021, 10:23 am
And finally, this: “COLA is a special allowance paid to offset the higher cost of living in overseas locations and certain high-cost areas within the US. COLA is the only allowance that changes based on the number of dependents you have.” That’s what I was referring to re: people with kids on the NATO base we were stationed at for a few years. You did get more pay in your paycheck for kids.
lets_be_honest February 25, 2013, 9:49 am
Living like a machine is no way to live. I did that for many years, and it serves its purpose, but it truly is a sad existence. I hope you take everyone’s advice and start being accepting of having human emotions again.
lemongrass February 25, 2013, 9:54 am
Your husband sounds like an asshole. How beaten down do you have to be to want to stop caring that your husband keeps cheating on you? Don’t feel bad if you leave him. Being in the military doesn’t give you a pass for this kind of behavior.
Fabelle February 25, 2013, 10:12 am
Being a military spouse & dealing with/sacrificing everything you mentioned in your first paragraph…I dunno, I feel like that’s something that should happen only when the marriage itself is GOOD. LW, your husband is not only cheating physically when he’s away, he’s “crowd-sourcing” emotional support everywhere except the home—in your own words (which, by the way, was a very descriptive way of phrasing that, so: props. I certainly know people like this.)
Anyway, it seems to me like you’ve already tried to work through this, & have been getting nowhere? I’d ask yourself what’s really left in this marriage—what is preventing you from just giving up? Do you think one day you’ll reach some level of nirvana where nothing your husband does can possibly hurt you? I mean, you call yourself a “machine” as if that’s been the end goal all along.
But I bet it wasn’t—the original goal you had was to have a good, trusting, faithful marriage, right? Just because that’s not how it worked out, doesn’t mean that you need to develop some kind of robotic heart. This is hurting you, & that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel hurt, because that’s what will propel you to take some real steps to improving your life.
landygirl February 25, 2013, 10:12 am
LW, why would you want to stay with a serial cheater? Get out now and start living your life for you.
Oldie February 25, 2013, 10:33 am
I disagree with Wendy’s advice. There is nothing in this marriage that is worth saving. LW needs to MOA, get a divorce, and restart her life. This isn’t a guy who is offering her any support, she doesn’t seem to even like him, he is a stranger to her, and he cheats. His moves prevent her from making anything of her life. It sounds like she’d willingly make that sacrifice for a real husband, but that isn’t what she’s got. She can’t save this marriage, even if she wanted to At some point he’s going to leave her. He doesn’t behave like a guy who has even a little bit of love for his wife.
John Rohan February 25, 2013, 10:40 am
As a married man and a military member myself (who just came back from deployment), I see this happen so often it’s ridiculous. I could write about this all day long, but Wendy’s advice was good, so I’ll limit myself to just a couple things I didn’t see mentioned.
While cheating is rampant, I suppose wives could have some consolation that it’s far more prevalent among the women than among the men. This isn’t because the men are more faithful, but rather just a result of the numbers. In the Army anyway, females are about 15% of the force so it’s much easier for a woman to find a partner to cheat with than visa versa. And I feel sorry for their husbands because some of these women rotate through one soldier after another.
Don’t let him use a BS excuse that he continues to cheat because of the stress of combat or PTSD. Don’t get me wrong – such stress could drive two people together when they wouldn’t do it otherwise. But just like any other PTSD related problem (such as heavy drinking, drug use, etc), if he cares about your marriage then he would own up to it and seek treatment after he gets back. He wouldn’t let it continue to slide, and he wouldn’t continue to look outside his family for comfort rather than inside. When I got back from my deployments, family was the ONLY place I wanted to be. I didn’t want to see another soldier or even a uniform for weeks. I didn’t even want to hear about the war on the news.
I would like to give more specific advice, but the LW was very vague on the details. Has he admitted to any of this? Has he been cheating with the same person, or multiple people? Did this only happen during deployments or after he came back as well?
iwannatalktosampson February 25, 2013, 11:21 am
Yeah the details were very vague. I don’t know if this is part of her machine like response or what. I think for me the biggest detail missing is whether he knows that she knows and whether he even cares to try to fix it. Because if not then most of the advice is null and void. Then we need to tell her how to get herself close to family and get support from them.
MsMisery February 27, 2013, 12:58 pm
Wait, isn’t it like, “illegal” or something to cheat on your spouse in the military? My best friend was in the Navy, as is her husband (she’s out now, but he is still enlisted). She told me they have very strict rules about fraternization and one could actually get court martialed for certain behaviors. Did I misunderstand??
Phalla Meas November 4, 2017, 10:55 am
I’ve been married for a little over 5 years. I’ve been through alot dealing with my husband being in the Navy. He now want a divorce because I caught him cheating on me and now i’m just picking up the pieces and reality of what was happening..while he’s over there enjoying his new life..remind you all happen in one month….we were just talking about moving me and our baby over there and he decided to now to want a divorce with no warnings or anything besides he got caught. Now im left with what I need to do since he’s not willing to try and work it out and he feels like he didn’t do anything wrong and he still continues this relationship with this girl who’s also in the navy. I need an advice what to do. since I’m at lost on to where to start. And this is my first time dealing with alll this.
Heatherly November 4, 2017, 11:50 am
Put this question in the advice forum & likely more people will see it & answer.
TheGirlinME February 25, 2013, 10:48 am
LW, I have no advice for you, just know you are not alone. I was a Navy Wife, and in my experience, during deployments – I found it really helpful to avoid too many conversations with the other wives regarding the husbands. It was inevitable that one or the other of them would begin to discuss whose husbands had “deployment partners”. I get what you mean when you say “almost unavoidable” about the culture. In that marriage, I more or less got myself to a place where I expected my husband would cheat. Then I had to decide that I didn’t care what he did while away. As long as he came home to me & protected himself, I just changed my expecctation & found a way to live with it. I’m in NO WAY suggesting that is how you should handle YOUR own personal relationship. I’m simply relating how I handled it. Best Wishes and Good Luck to you. FWIW, I know what a sacrifice you make toward the service of our country, and I appreciate it. *Hugs*
lets_be_honest February 25, 2013, 12:05 pm
After reading your comment, and John Rohan’s, I don’t know what else to say other than WTF. Does everyone know this when they get married? Just to anticipate your spouse cheating? And everyone is accepting bc they are away from home?
I guess I don’t get why you would marry into that.
Matcha February 25, 2013, 12:28 pm
TheGirlinME February 25, 2013, 1:25 pm
Not “everyone”. As I mentioned, that was how I chose to deal. I chose to look at the circumstances in that manner, rather than to drive myself crazy wondering “if”/looking for evidence, etc. Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t marry my husband anticipating he would be unfaithful. I simply prepared myself for that possibility, given the circumstances that are all too common. (For the record, he was a good husband, and I don’t *think* he cheated. I always had the sense that he was committed to being a good husband – we separated and subsequently divorced after he retired.)
lets_be_honest February 25, 2013, 1:29 pm
Oh. Thanks for replying. It had sounded like everyone just resigns themselves to that happening, which sounded awful to me. Although, maybe that works just fine for some people.
TheGirlinME February 25, 2013, 1:46 pm
You’re welcome 🙂 It worked better *for me* to take that perspective. I had a tendency toward being really jealous and insecure. Had I snooped, and accused my husband, to me that would have been more damaging to our marriage. So I put myself in that mindset. I’m certainly not advocating it as a solution for everyone. Sorry, LW for getting off-track from your obviously painful and upsetting situation. I’m hoping for the best possible outcome for you.
NavyWife February 25, 2013, 7:09 pm
My husband is an officer in the Navy and in no way, shape, or form would I ever condone or accept his cheating, whether home or deployed. Moreover, he would not accept that type of behavior from me. Yes, we are separated quite a bit, but we love eachother and are both committed to our marriage and I do not question him at all. We have been apart approximately 20+ months of the 3 1/2 years we’ve been together (dating/engagement/marriage) and the thought of him cheating does not even cross my mind when we’re not together. The military couples/families we are friends are the same. Doesn’t matter that we’re in the military…those are our values and I’d feel the same if my husband was a doctor, businessman or janitor.
That’s not to say military members or their spouses don’t cheat…my husband could tell you stories from guys that he knows. In his experience, “birds of a feather flock together”…guys that cheat tend to hang out with other guys that cheat. Men like my husband and his close buddies are committed to their families, and are not interested in spending a lot of time with their colleagues who engage in ‘extracurricular activities.’
But how many letters do we read in DearWendy and other advice columns from non-military members concerned about a cheating partner? Straying is not exclusive to the military community.
Jubietta February 25, 2013, 10:50 am
LW, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been treated like this after making so many sacrifices for your marriage and for our country. It sounds like the situation has taken a huge toll based on things which are out of your control. I hope you can protect yourself, and your ability to connect with others, by identifying the things you do have control over and exerting that control.
I think one of the hardest things about infidelity is that the vctim’s shame isolates him or her from sharing the situation with enough people to get the support they need…and deserve. The cheater, the LW’s husband in this case, out to be f#*+ing ashamed of himself for taking advantage of the person who has been the biggest supporter of his career and his well-being.
The LW’s description of the situation insults my sense of justice and makes me wish I had a way to send more support. Take care LW and I wish you some light and love in your days.
GatorGirl February 25, 2013, 10:57 am
Infidelity is avoidable. Every time. Your husband is an ass.
Jenny February 25, 2013, 11:01 am
As a Marine wife, I wanted to chime in on this. Yes, the environment that Kate described is true. But honestly, my husband and I have always felt so detached from that – who gives a shit what other people are doing? If you got married too young, or too fast, there’s going to be problems no matter what your line of work is. If you’re in a mature, loving relationship where you’re honest with each other and committed – it won’t matter what your husband’s job is. LW, you married a cad. He just also happened to be in the military.
I’m sorry, but implying that all military couples cheat on each other just irritates me. It’s not true. Yes, I know those couples. But I also know a lot of couples who brave multiple deployments while staying faithful to each other. It reminds me of people who say that everyone on welfare abuses the system. Of course there are people who do! But not everyone does.
Being in the military doesn’t make it inevitable you will cheat. It makes it easier, sure, but it doesn’t make it inevitable. LW, your husband does not have a pass to cheat on you because he’s in the military. I agree with Wendy – ask him to participate in counseling. If he won’t, then you need to move on. You and your kids deserve more. But until YOU realize that your husband never will.
katie February 25, 2013, 11:04 am
thank you for this. i hate when people just accept a shitty status quo like there isnt anything they can do about it, and participation is inevitable. life doesnt work like that, or i guess doesnt have to work like that, and history demonstrates it.
Jenny February 25, 2013, 11:11 am
Exactly. And I think this attitude of “everyone else does it anyway!” is something that people use to justify their actions. Again, who gives a shit what other people are doing? I hate how so many people gossip about other people’s relationships as if its their business. I don’t care what other couples are doing or whether or not they’re faithful to each other. That has no bearing on my marriage or the vows my husband and I made to each other.
Kate February 25, 2013, 11:28 am
Jenny, just to be clear, my point was not “everybody does it, it’s unavoidable, and thus the LW’s husband’s actions are justified.” It was just to add some perspective about the military culture that no one had touched upon yet. And of course “what other people are doing” has no bearing on your marriage, but the culture you live in, particularly when you’re isolated from family and friends and perhaps living in another country, is absolutely something you have to think about and work through when deciding what to do next.
Jenny February 25, 2013, 11:44 am
Cheating isn’t just part of the military culture – its part of the American culture, is it not? I see reports all the time saying “most marriages have at least one cheating spouse”. LW’s husband is responsible for his actions. By citing military culture, it shifts the blame from LW’s husband. If you took him out of the military he wouldn’t suddenly be a model husband.
MMcG February 25, 2013, 12:18 pm
“If you took him out of the military he wouldn’t suddenly be a model husband.”
THIS is what I was thinking! He could be a 9-5 plain old going to the office guy and he would still be emotionally stunted, immature and cheating.
BreezyAM February 26, 2013, 2:26 pm
Can we agree it’s a wee more likely for someone to cheat who is separated from their spouse anywhere from 90-95% of the time? I mean people have needs.
However, this is exactly why I refused to even date guys in the military. I have a high sex drive, enjoy sex, and have no interest in spending the majority of my pre-menopausal years separated from my sex partner of choice. I know myself well enough to know I’d have sex elsewhere.
Bossy Italian Wife February 25, 2013, 11:02 am
This is a complicated situation for both of you, I would say. WWS 100%. Seek support (and counseling). Try becoming vulnerable through a [same sex] friendship and test the waters there…. and think about beginning a path of reconnection with your husband if that is what you want.
Infidelity doesn’t always have to mean the end of the relationship, but it does mean that if you guys want to stay together, it’s going to take work, honesty and (bad news) INTIMACY. You also mentioned you have a child, and it’s paramount you demonstrate health and love to the best of your ability. It’s harder to learn love later in life, and while you are likely giving your child a ton of love from the motherly perspective, relationship modeling/love is also important. Whether that means leaving, or staying and working it out, is entirely up to you–either one may be of benefit at this point.
Bottom line? Get clear about you want and work hard to achieve it. You sound like you love your husband, so it might be worth a shot.
Lindsay February 25, 2013, 11:11 am
Cheating is never inevitable. All a person has to do is just not cheat. If it’s so important to sleep with this other person, then break up. I think the LW should just MOA. Aside from the cheating, she just sounds totally checked out from the marriage. I don’t know how you can salvage something without trust, emotions or intimacy, and it sounds like the lifestyle just doesn’t work for her.
llclarityll February 25, 2013, 11:11 am
The part that struck me was LW saying “I want to stop the caring.” LW, that’s likely what contributed to the marriage problems to begin with. Why would you want to “stop caring”? So that you don’t feel anything and can just tuck all of your feelings back in? You’ve got to stop this cycle, lady.
ReginaRey February 25, 2013, 11:23 am
Personally, I don’t believe that his status as a member of our military gives him carte blanche to be unfaithful to you. It’s certainly NOT unavoidable. If someone wants to avoid it, they will.
And he doesn’t want to avoid it. Why? I can’t tell you, exactly. But generally, it’s because he’s in pain. Deep, prolonged, unconscious emotional pain. And so are you.
So, while I don’t know if this marriage can be saved, or if either of you are invested enough to WANT to save it at this point, I know this to be true: You need to take the first step in relieving yourself of your emotional pain. I mean this in the best way possible: You are a prime candidate for therapy. Your prolonged emotional pain has literally numbed you, and this is NOT normal. You deserve the space to talk about this, to have a partner who will help you work through your feelings, gain clarity, and help you figure out your worth and what you want.
Your husband needs the same, and I hope once you start going to therapy, you can find a way to communicate the value of that to him.
Kelly February 25, 2013, 11:27 am
Your husbands cheating has nothing to do with military deployments. If that were the case, my husband would have been a serial cheater. He’s retired from the military now, but he was gone for two and a half years at the end of his career and lots of time in between. I think I figured up once that he was gone for about six years of our marriage and that doesn’t include funeral details out of state, tdy or guard duty. He hit every single deployment from Panama, the first Gulf war, Somalia and ended it with a trip to Iraq.
Certainly the military gives people the opportunity to cheat more then in civilian life if the spouse is so inclined. Figure in the fact that military marry younger, are away from family and friends, and you have enough material for a few seasons of desperate housewives. In my time I saw both soldiers and their spouses cheat on each other. In one case, even after the soldier was kicked out of the military for adultery, he continued his cheating ways.
You need counseling. If your husband plans on retiring from the military, just know that after his retirement he will finally get around to divorcing you. I hate how harsh that sounds, but I’ve seen this to many times. I can’t tell you how many of my husbands old Army buddies that we’ve run into, asked how the wife is, only to find out they divorced after retirement. It’s like they keep their wife around for stability and once they become civilians they no longer need them. I think you should make plans to get out now.
TheGirlinME February 25, 2013, 1:34 pm
Kelly, that’s kind of an interesting theory the “stability” point. My military-retiree and I separated and divorced shortly after he retired. In our case, we know how to make our marriage work through separations. We had a terrible time when it came to navigating civilian-life together. We parted dear friends and stay in touch from time to time.
Sue Jones February 25, 2013, 11:58 am
MOA MOA MOA MOA MOA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fabelle February 25, 2013, 12:02 pm
Okay so, jumping back in here to offer a different take on the “unavoidable infidelity” thing—I think the word choice is more reflecting on the LW’s state of mind. Whenever her husband goes away, SHE FEELS THAT cheating will be “unavoidable” (like, it’ll definitely happen & she has no control over it). It indicates how powerless she feels; it’s not a statement exonerating the husband or saying, like, he literally can’t stop himself.
Oldie February 25, 2013, 7:38 pm
I think you’re right. She is using ‘unavoidable’ in the sense that she doesn’t think anything she can do would prevent him from cheating, not that he shouldn’t be able to keep his dick in his own pants. Just another argument for MOA. LW knows she can’t change this guy and her mind has gone the direction of ‘perhaps I can learn to accept it’. If she could accept the cheating and all the rest of this guy’s crap, she would would be a lot happier than her letter indicates, so I conclude that she is not capable of just accepting it. Nor should she. Nor should she realistically expect him to change. So that leaves? Certainly not couples counseling. That only works if both partners are willing to change behavior to save the relationship. He isn’t willing to do that. So… MOA. Yes, she has kids and 6 years of ‘marriage’, but it doesn’t seem that she ever had a true marriage. Comes a time you have to admit reality.
Astronomer February 25, 2013, 12:17 pm
LW, you are so unhappy that it hurts my heart. Get out, for pete’s sake. Your husband is offering you literally nothing. No love, no companionship, no career options, no childcare, no geographic stability, NOTHING. Instead of worrying about how to police and mommy a grown man who has already told you everything you need to know about how he wants to behave, leave him and take care of yourself and your child.
Look, I’m not saying this to be mean, but here it is. My husband and I have some problems, which can sometimes feel insurmountable and overwhelming. Marriage can be really tough sometimes, especially when there are two tough, stubborn people in it. But our absolute worst day is way better than your best day, from what you’ve described. Aim higher next time. Even your worst day with someone shouldn’t make you feel so utterly alone and unworthy of love.
SweetPeaG February 25, 2013, 2:23 pm
There is no sense in a partnership that makes you feel alone. Kind of defeats the purpose, no? Even with someone thousands of miles away, you should still have the feeling that they are on your side. This guy is clearly not on the LW’s side.
Addie Pray February 25, 2013, 1:08 pm
WWS. Also, I *almost* shared this with a friend on FB whose husband is in the military… but then I remembered a few years ago she filed for divorce because he cheated on her; she withdrew the petition and they have since reconciled. It would probably be in bad taste to publish this piece on her wall. …. But I really wish she would comment about this!
BriarRose February 25, 2013, 1:43 pm
Ugh, this makes me so sad. I was an Army wife for 7 years and can attest that cheating is wildly prevalent in the military, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is unavoidable. Being a military spouse is a tough life. It sounds like you really need some support and clearly aren’t getting it from your husband. Have you asked if he will go to marital counseling with you? More often than not, military guys will refuse that, thinking it will go on their record or be held against them. In the past, that was certainly true, but is really not the case anymore (although most will claim it is). If he’s willing, have him contact his unit’s chaplain and see if you can meet with him. If he’s not willing, seek it out for yourself. Military One Source is a great starting point: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/ And keep in mind, Tricare covered marital and individual counseling for me when I was going through my divorce, so the money factor should not be an issue for you. There is hourly care available on post at the child care facilities if you need babysitting for young kids, and the hourly rate is really low and based on your husband’s rank. Perhaps you know all this, but I’m trying to preempt all of your excuses! I know I certainly used to always find reasons that I couldn’t do things, but as they say, “if there’s a will, there’s a way”.
I’m sure plenty of military spouses can confirm that sometimes you can marry the best person ever, but when you throw the military into the mix, they change dramatically. While lots of issues can be a part of the deal, as Wendy mentioned, it’s not part of the deal for your spouse to do a complete 180 so that you find yourself married to a complete stranger who has no interest in salvaging your marriage. I suppose I always take this issue a little personally, since it’s what happened to me, so I just wanted to let you know that I really do feel for you and understand. You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your kids. Please start some counseling, for yourself and them.
bittergaymark February 25, 2013, 1:47 pm
You’re not happy. Get a divorce. It’s NOT 1953… Either that or agree to an open marriage and start sleeping around yourself.
PS — Again it’s always so great to hear yet another warm and fuzzy story about how monogamy brings to the world so much happiness and deep personal fulfillment to the world.
bethany February 25, 2013, 1:54 pm
I wouldn’t exactly call this monogamy…
bittergaymark February 25, 2013, 2:03 pm
Expectation of it and it failing though? Um, yeah.
theattack February 25, 2013, 2:23 pm
I wouldn’t say the the expectation of monogamy is failing. I would say that someone made a promise they chose not to keep, and that’s crappy.
bethany February 25, 2013, 2:38 pm
True that. It’s a shame that people who really don’t want to be monogamous are getting married and/or lying to their partners about what they really want.
Ammie February 25, 2013, 6:29 pm
When a person lies about their desire to be monogamous to a person who desires monogamy, that’s a problem. Monogamy itself, or polyamory itself, are fine; it’s the partnering between a monogamous person and a polyamorous person that’s causing the pain.
So… I think what’s actually happening here is that LIES bring discord and unhappiness. Full story at 11, as they say. 😉
SweetPeaG February 25, 2013, 2:35 pm
I get that open relationships make some people happy. But, there has to be SOMETHING to monogamy is so many of us are willing to work at it and defend it with all we’ve got. I maintain that it isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. The opinion that you seem to hold that it makes all people so miserable is simply not true.
ReginaRey February 25, 2013, 3:17 pm
Personally, I don’t think monogamy is the problem. That’s blaming an external issue for a problem that’s 100% internal. Both of these people are pretty heavily unconscious…of their patterns, of their pain, and of the fact that they have the power to change if they want to. I don’t think marriages fail because there’s something inherently wrong with monogamy. But the two people entering in to a monogamous state need to be at a certain level of consciousness, and have the ability to communicate, and be in a healthy mental state…none of which happened here, to say the least.
karenwalker February 25, 2013, 2:05 pm
The fact that you are in so much pain is proof that you are not a machine and that you need help. Your attempts at shutting down aren’t working and I’m not surprised. You have endured a lot of hardship and change in your life over the course of your marriage. Even without your husband’s infidelity, you’ve been through a lot and counseling would be helpful. I also want you to know that your husband’s behavior is unacceptable, and not something to be tolerated. While cheating may be rampant, it is certainly not unavoidable. Have you been able to make friends with other military wives? Have you sought out resources on your base? Gotten involved in organizations there?
How do you and your husband communicate? Have you you talked to him about the stress you feel? Have you confronted him about his cheating? Again, counseling would be helpful here.
You haven’t listed any good qualities about your husband. Are you even sure you still want to stay married?
You mention that you are a parent. With your attempts to block out the pain your husband is causing, I wonder how that is affecting your child(ren?). The constant moving and the tolls of military life can be hard on kids, too. If one parent is physically absent and the other is emotionally absent, who do they have to rely on?
LW, you have a lot you need to figure out and I highly recommend counseling, especially for someone who specializes with military families. Good luck!
AKchic_ February 25, 2013, 2:23 pm
Honey, not only is the cheating a gross violation of your marriage, it’s a violation of the UCMJ, and he knows it.
Follow Wendy’s advice and seek counseling. If he can’t stop cheating on you, then something is seriously wrong. Either he’s mentally fucked up and needs serious help, or he wants out of the marriage and can’t bring himself to end it. In either case, you don’t deserve the treatment you are getting.
Nadine February 25, 2013, 6:15 pm
This letter just makes me so sad. You sound like you are trying, but you can try and try until the cows come home, but sometimes trying isn’t enough. You could give it one last shot, tell your husband all of your feelings and see if anything changes, but you need to save yourself from living an empty life.
BreezyAM February 26, 2013, 2:13 pm
Fuck that. Hit the gym while he’s gone, get your ass in shape, get a makeover, get back to school and retrain if you need to, and dump his ass cold. Use that deployment time as pre-alimony.
Alternately, STOP reading the betrayed wife boards! OMG they turn us into paranoid harpie shrews and make it even worse! If I want to aggravate my PTSD symptoms I got from my husband’s infidelities all I need to do is go read those boards! Pay attention to what he is doing. He is providing a home and taking care of his wife and children. Pay attention to how he treats you when he is home. Is he good and kind? Is he sexing you up proper? Is he good with the kids? Do you feel you are a priority to him?
Ask yourself honestly if his infidelities are affecting how he treats you and his children, how he feels about you. If they are not, and if you can deal with that, then let it go if you want to. See there’s such an expectation that if we don’t tell him to “get his shit and get out!” ala Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale (I confess to having watched that scene on repeat a million times while going through some of this with Mister) we’re weak, we’re doormats, we’re not doing the right thing, we’re pathetic. We’re worried we’re embarrassing, and embarrassed of, ourselves. But this is unfair. Leaving, staying, how angry to be, how much to demand, that is for each betrayed partner to decide. You are no more or less of a human based on how much you decide to turn a blind eye or how much you feel is acceptable than the woman who throws a fit and monitors her husband with a GPS tracking device (there was a time in our marriage when I had to do this to preserve my sanity. Ironically, I rarely if ever checked it. I just needed to know I COULD).
So you have choices. You don’t have to take it. You can get the hell out if you want. You can also continue taking it and being a martyr, or you can decide this situation is actually working for you and it’s the societal expectation that you must freak the hell out if your partner cheats that is damaging here. I don’t know the right answer for you but there are options besides just crying and demanding monogamy.
BTW don’t bother “telling” on him. In my experience they don’t give a damn unless it’s with another officer, and often not even then unless there’s a discrepancy in rank. People keep telling me the military is very against cheating, but I have a long line of military family and from my view they not only don’t care, they practicially encourage it, especially with these ridiculous deployments of late where I know men who have been gone from their families 7 out of the last 10 years. Seven.Freaking.Years. It’s obscene. Plus the ways the guys talk to one another, egg one another on, go “see some girls” in shows, etc… yeah. Don’t tell me the military “frowns” on cheating. What the military frowns on is wives making a big ol’ shit show about it. If you tell on him, and let’s say he does get in “trouble”…… this helps you how exactly? Yeah. Exactly.
katie February 26, 2013, 2:21 pm
“sexing you up proper” is my new favorite phrase and i am going to try to put it into every conversation from here on.
BreezyAM February 26, 2013, 2:34 pm
ALso, the military wives going on haughtily about how “MY husband doesn’t cheat!” (we can almost see your indignant noses in the air) are not helping. For one thing, you don’t know. Yes even those of you who have husband disparaging the cheaters. You don’t know. Now maybe he’s not. I sure hope not. I’m glad you’re not worried he’s cheating. And I’m certainly not suggesting you should worry. But it does nothing but make the woman with the cheating husband feel even WORSE. And again, you’re just one pregnant army cadet on your doorstep away from finding out he was lying. So try some compassion. Now if the GUYS were here insisting they don’t cheat, that’s a whole other thing. But the “MY husband doesn’t cheat!” uppityness reminds me of those parents of Christian teens with purity rings insisting their child doesn’t need sex ed because “THEY say NO!”…. only to wind up with an appointment at the nearest abortion clinic.
Alice December 6, 2013, 4:27 am
My first time admitting publicly that my husband has cheated on me. Just 28hrs ago I found out my husband cheated on me while he was deployed. My husband and I are recently married,my deal was,if we could make it through a deployment then we must be able to make it through anything. Wellllll, I’m at a standstill. When his and I just got together we both had our side people,until we decided to make it official. Now he has been unfaithful by texting other girls but physically never did anything with them. But now, knowing that he physically touched another woman. Got to know he enough to call each other baby and to out himself in her. I’m in shock. This doesn’t feel real. But at the same time i feel sick. And ik he did all of that before we got married. But I married him seeing that he was a changed man. And he’s not. He’s a piece of s***. I waited out a whole deployment, with my “friends” encouraging me to cheat and I never once faded away from hurting him like that. And I only know he cheated on me while he was deployed because something didn’t feel right. So when he was sleeping I went through his phone. And there it was,first thing,her name and number starring at me in the face with the message that read, ” it’s ok baby,ik you’re busy” , that in itself made me sink. Made me feel like how could he do this to me. I’ve never done anything bad,I helped him financially and I felt as if I was his center and I was wrong. I’m confused on what to do,been married for just over a month and I don’t want a thing to do with him. He betrayed me and embarrassed me for the last time.i don’t want counseling, in all honestly I want to kill him then myself…but ik I could never do that. He cried and cried telling me I’m his world and he would never want to hurt me and he thought that I did cheat on him while he was deployed,but who has time to cheat when they’re working 70-80hrs a week and waking up in the middle of the night to just hear his voice. Idk. I’m numb. I’m in shock. And I want my last name back. I gave up so many things I was proud of,because I was in love. I’ve lost family and friends by marrying him,and now I have to give everyone the satisfaction that I’m a embarrassment and that hey were all right. I’ve never wanted to die more in my life than I do right now. Nothing can fill the empty void I have. The feeling of disloyalty,distrust,and betrayal. He wants to start fresh, I don’t know if if want to or not. He’s sleeping in a separate bedroom right know . I’m honestly at a all time low and lost. And if I can’t figure out what to do next. Then I just know I’m going to loss myself.
Justpassing January 13, 2019, 8:43 am
Hey I dont know how old this comment is since I see no timestamps on any comments…but I absolutely feel your pain. It hurts so much. If you are feeling this way you might be tempted to retreat and isolate yourself. Especially because of the way you feel about your family. I was the same way with my family and some friends…I argued with family to marry a man who betrayed me in the end…You do what you need to do to help yourself get through the initial shock…cry until youre too tired to any longer…but please dont forget that there are people out there who can at the very least provide a shoulder for you to cry on so you dont have to do it alone. I hope you reach out to the resources the military has to offer. Reach out to a friend. I dont know if youll see this message but I would like to hope that you are doing okay wherever you are… When it comes to this sort of pain we really have to take it one day at a time because thinking about how uncertain the future is will really drive you insane…best of wishes to you Alice, and LMS
Linda Chudej August 20, 2021, 7:53 am
My husband was an MP in the Army from 1966-1968. He was deployed to the DMZ in South Korea (the prostitution capital of the world) for 13 months (1966-1967). We’d been married less than 3 months when he was drafted in May 1966 so we didn’t live together again as man & wife until November 1967. He paid prostitutes for sex in the camptown near his post in Korea. When he returned to the States & told me about his cheating it shattered my world & my dreams of being together again. It forever changed the way I felt about him but I didn’t have a support group to turn to & as a secretary I didn’t make enough money to support myself. I chose to stay with him but it was a mistake to do that because he proved I wasn’t important to him by choosing to have sex with numerous prostitutes while he was deployed. He chose the Korean women over me. We are now retired with a comfortable retirement income so I’m glad I hung in there in a marriage devoid of intimacy (I see him engaging in sex with the Korean women every time he touches me) & we do not connect although we feel we’re better together than apart at this stage of our lives. The sting of his choosing Korean women over maintaining our relationship has never left me. I haven’t trusted him since 1966. I still keep a stash of cash in case he comes home one day & tells me he’s cheated again. But I have a house that’s paid for & I have money in the bank & now he’s too impotent to do much with a prostitute.
Dear Wendy August 20, 2021, 7:58 am
Kate August 20, 2021, 10:11 am
That’s really sad. Sounds like you were in that last generation of women before “having it all” with a career really took off. So you had to make that trade-off between, do I want to be financially comfortable or do I want to be independent and find happiness. I have two aunts who are my parents’ older siblings, so they’re more silent generation while my parents are your typical boomers. They both had husbands who cheated and ended up getting divorced and having to find their own way. And definitely they’re less well off now than they might have been if they managed to stay married. But… did you ever think about alimony? Or living with family and saving up money from your secretary job? Please recognize that you made a choice. Staying in this miserable marriage wasn’t your only option.