You’d call me a traditional Army wife. When I got married the minister asked if I wanted “love, honor and obey” left in my vows- of course. My husband is the head of my household, and it is my duty as his wife to obey him just as it is his duty to obey his Army commander. As a Christian I believe that God provides us all with various gifts and skills. My gift is to nurture my family, maintain a clean and orderly home, and provide emotional support for my soldier. His gift is to provide for our financial needs, protect us from harm, and to maintain our home. We all have our duties and we all choose the best way to fulfill them.
When my husband returned from his first deployment I expected it would be difficult to maintain our traditional values. While he was gone, I took on some of his duties. It wasn’t that I wanted to continue doing his jobs, but he didn’t seem interested in anything like mowing the lawn or taking out the garbage. He was interested in drinking with his single friends and flirting online with cute girls.
After his second deployment we were living in Germany. He was drinking more, spending more time away from home, and started yelling at me a lot. I begged him to go to the Chaplain with me for counseling, he refused. His nightmares caused him to accidentally hit me while he slept. I learned to cover the bruises with long sleeves and makeup, and to cover the tears with happy smiles and “He didn’t mean too.”
After the third deployment I learned to lie for him, never expecting he’d lie to me. When he was late for formation, it was because he was helping me get my car started. When he was hungover, I told his commander it was the flu. When friends invited us to parties, I went alone explaining he had duty. And finally when his girlfriend Corrine drunk dialed me, accusing me of being selfish by not divorcing him, I told her she could have him I was leaving. I tried to leave, but was told by his commander, our Chaplain and my parents that he was the priority, that God had a plan and that marriage was hard work. Broken vows, a broken heart and broken dreams were super glued back together when he attempted suicide.
Finally the lies were exposed and it was given a name, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I couldn’t leave now, it would be too cruel. Leaving someone with PTSD was like abandoning someone with cancer. We went to support groups for alcoholism, marriage counseling with our Chaplain and he started seeing a VA counselor. I knew we would make it if we just worked hard enough to “love, honor and obey”.
It didn’t happen over night. Now he was late for formation because he was in another car accident, distracted because of PTSD. He wasn’t hungover anymore, but the prescriptions made him lethargic. I was still going to parties alone, but now it was because crowds bothered him. When Julie called to tell me she was in love with him, I told her to get in line behind Kim, Susan, Beth and Laura. Three suicide attempts later I found myself facing the barrel of a hunting rifle he pointed at me because I was trying to stop him from killing himself. Even that didn’t keep me from believing we could fix it, if we just tried to “love, honor and obey.”
Friends, family, counselors and finally Alan-on taught me that I had to admit that I was powerless over PTSD and my life had become unmanageable. I slowly began to realize that God’s plan for me was not someone who was incapable of loving, honoring or obeying God’s purpose for his own life while systematically destroying mine, enough was enough. I faced the shame, fear and repercussions of getting a divorce in a traditional marriage. Divorce is never easy, and there have been bumps in the road. I made the difficult choice to forgo my natural instincts to protect him, and petitioned the court for protection of myself.
I sat in a courtroom in front of a judge and explained all the times he’d threatened or actually harmed me in the last two years. I felt like a hypocrite admitting that I’d been harmed when I’d always dismissed it as a part of his disease. Surely others were worse off than me, in more need than I am, did I really need a restraining order? I was reminded it’s just a piece of paper. But that piece of paper represents my chance to “love, honor and obey” God’s plan for ME.