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Husband in military wants a divorce

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband is in the military and under a lot of stress right now, and I fear it may be having a very negative impact on him. For years now he’s been really detached from everything. He has no friends, he doesn’t do much with his life. He works and he plays World of Warcraft and that’s about it. He was a completely different person when we first got married. He hadn’t been in the military very long, and he was very full of life. He had hobbies and friends. He enjoyed getting out and doing things, but the more time he spent in the service, the worse he became.

Eventually he just stopped doing much of anything. He stopped talking to friends, didn’t spend as much time with his family, even his hobbies seemed to be slipping. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but maybe I should have. I figured it was just stress and it would go away eventually.

He’s seeing a therapist, but I’m not sure how often. I remember him saying once that they’d said he had OCD and had suggested that he might be schizotypal. He’s told me several times that he feels like his mind is splitting and thats why he has mood swings. One minute he’s friendly and caring, and the next hes very cold and distant. Naturally I was concerned, but I have no idea what to do.

We’ve been married five years (just had our 5th anniversary yesterday). We haven’t seen each other in two years due to him being in the service, though I did see him for two weeks over Xmas break. During that two weeks things seemed fine. We spent time together and we had fun and he seemed very in love with me. A few weeks ago he called me out of the blue to say he wanted a divorce.

His reason for this has changed several times. First he didn’t love me anymore, which I just can’t believe. Then he felt trapped and wanted to be free. Then he wanted the chance for us to start over fresh and correct past mistakes. Then I wasn’t the kind of person he wanted to be married to. He wants someone with a good work ethic, and I admit that mine is severely lacking, but I’m making up for that now. I’m fixing my mistakes, but I’m still concerned for him.

He won’t talk to me because he says talking to me hurts him. When he thinks about the good times and leaving it all behind, he feels hurt. To me, and I may be wrong, that says that he’s not sure that leaving is the right choice. But he’s avoiding his feelings. He’s cutting himself off from everything. I feel like he’s trying to shove the issue and his feelings under a rug, in hopes that they will just go away. As long as he avoids talking to me or talking about our relationship, he doesn’t have to face the fact that he may not be making the right choice.

I believe his detachment from everything is one of the (if not THE) key factor in the downfall of our relationship. So now I don’t know what to do. Do I just sit here and let him deteriorate even more and let what’s left of our marriage (as well as our friendship) fall apart completely. Or do I do something about it? I realize I can’t force him to stay with me, I’m just worried about his detachment. Not just from me, but everything. I don’t know who to voice my concerns to about it. I have no idea who he’s seeing, and there’s no way for me to find out. He wouldn’t tell me, and due to confidentiality, I can’t find out anywhere else.
What should I do? He doesn’t want to talk to me, and if I tell him I’m concerned, it may just push him further away.

Your husband sounds significantly depressed and perhaps at risk for hurting himself. He may be pushing you away in the mistaken idea that it then won’t matter to you. Military life takes its toll on people whether or not they are in active combat.

I strongly urge you to call the chaplain connected to his unit and share what has been going on. Please don’t be concerned about your husband being mad at you for interfering. Better to live with “interfering” in a way that might help him than to live with not doing so and having something happen to him. The rules of confidentiality allow for you to share information even if the person you are talking to can’t give you details in response.

You may also find some help for both of you at this website:

National Military Family Assn

Military life can be hard on the whole family. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will reach out to a military family support group in your area. Your problem is not unique. Other spouses left behind can help you feel less alone and give your you practical advice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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