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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 794
Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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My wife just dropped a bombshell in my lap (while Im deployed

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My wife just dropped a bombshell in my lap (while I'm deployed no less...been away for 7 months). She told me she's not happy, just comfortable with our relationships between us and our children. She said she just realized how I don't do the things I did for her when we first got together. We have her son (my stepson) who is 8, and another son (ours) who just turned 6. She expresses how she feels guilty for not "being there for them" more when they needed us, how there's been several times they came up to her for something and she brushed them aside because she was busy or whatever, and feels like she's not a good parent (I feel she is a very good, loving and supporting mom). This is all news to me, because just last week and quite often before that, she would tell me how much she loves me and misses me, and how she brags to her coworkers how great of a husband and dad I am. We've had a few ups and downs just like any marriage does, but I've always reflected that we've had a great relationship, both physically and mentally. For this to be happening all of a sudden and with no real warnings, I don't know what to make of it. She was forthcoming on her own that there isn't anyone else in the picture, and that she wants to fight for me, and wants me to fight for her. And she said no matter what happens, we should be there for our kids, which I wholeheartedly agree. We've been together for almost 8 years, and married almost 7 years. We communicate pretty well on a daily basis, and we're financially good and both have jobs with the military. I don't know what's going on.

From what you are saying, it sounds to me like things between you and your wife have been going as well as they possibly could while you've been away. I believe that she may simply be suffering from being on her own with the kids and feelings of loneliness from missing you. It's easy for the mind to go off on its own - especially regarding relationships - when you're separated from your partner. Some people idealize their partner, some people develop feelings of resentment toward the absent partner, but usually, it basically boils down to issues caused by the physical (and emotional) distance. She might be feeling overwhelmed from having to take care of the kids on her own (hence her saying that she doesn't feel like you do the things that you did when you were first together, and also feeling like she's not a good parent.)

To be honest, I am not really seeing any red flags pop up here, since there's no one else in the picture for either of you, and you both still express that you want to be together. You communicate daily, you have no real other problems that I am hearing aside from the fact that you're physically apart. I think it's good that you're seeing/have seen the mental health counselor, and you might want to continue to do that while you're away just for support, but you might also suggest that your wife seek additional support as well, as I imagine the situation is pretty stressful for her, too. In the end, it could simply be that she needs to see you - and I realize that's not possible (most likely, not sure how long you're on assignment for) at the moment, so the most you can do is reassure her and be loving and supportive when you do talk to her. You might even just try doing something romantic for her like writing a love letter (this is just an idea, but you have to do what you're comfortable with) to show her that you are still the same guy you were when you first were married.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Best of luck.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She told me (after the fact) that she started seeing a mental health profession back in January because she was feeling depressed (understandably so). From there I can only guess as to what was said between herself and the counselor(s) she saw, but I from what she told me was that it was recommended that she get our kids opinion on certain matters. She supposedly asked our boy (ages 8 and 6) if they felt that both mom and dad showed genuine love for each other....their answers were no. She also supposedly asked them how they felt about myself being away for so long; my stepson said he hated me (he's since adjusted his response to he misses and loves me, but I scare him sometimes), and my younger son reacted as indifferent. I love my wife beyond life itself, and our children as well. Her and I are both in the military, so she understands the sacrifices and stresses of our job. I would like to think I've given her everything she's ever asked for, and provided and loved our children beyond reproach. I really appreciate your reply back to my initial post....please let me know if you have anything further to add.
Hi again,

I do empathize with what you are going through right now and I can only imagine how difficult it is to have all of these thoughts racing through your head while you're away. In response to what you've said, I find that to be an interesting tactic on the part of the mental health counselor, in terms of asking the kids if you both show love for each other. If you were away at the time (so, you've been away for 7 months and I'm assuming you were therefore away from the kids for at least 2 months by this point) they could have been saying that you did not show love for each other simply because you weren't physically there. Children do understand more than we often give them credit for, but they also don't think like adults do, so the very fact of the distance and their own feelings about missing you could have played some role in their answer to that question (just food for thought, it could also very well be the other way around but I tend to think that the kids might be having trouble adjusting to missing you, too, especially if your step-son said he hated you, then he said he loves you, so you see how children are so malleable in cases like this, and they often have trouble regulating their emotions.) I would not take their reactions as anything more than the fact that they miss you. They have a hard time with feelings of sadness and perhaps being angry at you for being away - and they don't know how to handle it. So they might, at times, say things like you mentioned - even though it's by no means intentional, they probably feel abandoned, to some extent. So in that area, you can reassure them that you love them and miss them, and allow them to express their feelings in whatever way they are comfortable. You might even want to make a plan with them for when you do return home, so they have something to look forward to (and that, of course, depends on how long you're away.)

I do hope it all works out - and to be honest (and of course, I don't know the entire situation) my gut feeling is that this is simply an adjustment issue that will work out in the end. I think your wife is simply having a hard time with you being away - she misses you and wishes you were together, just as your kids do.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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