The Price Of Service
My wife of 13 years and I are, according to the counselor we started seeing recently, in the final death throes of our marriage. I have emotionally neglected her for years, and though the signs were there as plain as the nose on my face, this has been a shock and devastator.
I am in the military, and I often go out of town on business. Upon returning from one of these trips recently, “Jane” told me she needed to see a counselor “now.” We made an appointment right then for the following week.
The very next day, I discovered she has fallen in love with a cyber-friend, sight unseen, who has been able to give the emotional support she desperately needed.
After the first three sessions with our counselor, Jane committed to trying to save our marriage, but has “very little hope it will succeed.” The counselor has decided he no longer needs to see me, which was a big shock because I assumed I was the major problem.
Now I feel like a floundering piece of driftwood in the ocean. I love this woman with all my heart. I would give everything I own to get her love back. But I am afraid that all my words and actions will be rejected and that she has steeled herself to leave.
Mark, some businesses, universities and government facilities house acoustic anechoic chambers, which are sound-deadened rooms with foam jutting from every surface. They are literally the quietest places on earth. They are so quiet a person can hear the sound of blood flowing through their own body.
That is how your wife might have felt. Or maybe she would call it solitary confinement.
She’s a military wife, and the military is not a touchy-feely world. Loneliness at parting from friends or changing duty stations may be at fault. Or perhaps she is not the kind of person who can stand isolation or deprivation of any sort.
When I was in the Navy, the captain of my second ship was a jet pilot on the verge of assuming command of an aircraft carrier. His field of expertise was nuclear and space propulsion systems. In human relationships he was the savviest man I ever met.
When I brought him the night navigation orders, I might find him reading one of the classics of English literature or composing a handwritten letter to his wife. He was an amazing man.
A year later I called him for a job reference. The phone was answered by his college-aged daughter. In a frosty voice she said, “He doesn’t live here anymore.”
I was stunned.
Apparently his career came at a cost too great for his wife. There are lines of work so demanding a person must almost have to commit to their spouse’s calling. Not everyone can be the spouse of a firefighter, a surgeon, a cop, a fisherman, an oil rig worker, or a long-haul trucker.
Apparently your wife never filled up her life with an occupation or passion. She was at home alone and feeling your silence. How do you fix that? And should you? You can’t be there every single minute. You can’t be someone else’s purpose if they have no purpose.
You were content with the level of interaction. For her, it fell short. You were a sometimes visitor to her island. Divorces often happen for no better reason than, the pieces simply don’t fit together.
Direct Answers from Wayne and Tamara – Column for the week of December 11, 2017
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