Help! My Wife Is Threatening to Sink My Military Career.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 23 2014 2:28 PM

Loose Lips Sink Relationships

In a live chat, Prudie counsels a man whose wife is threatening to destroy his military career.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: Ship Without a Pendant: The LW needs to talk to a chaplain. Even if the LW isn’t religious, the chaplain will have resources for marriage counseling and help through the military, and believe me, military chaplains have seen and helped a lot of badly broken marriages. The LW should use the resources at hand as well as outside help.

A: Thanks, good suggestion.

Q. Thank You Notes: What’s the deal with people not sending thank you notes these days? I have sent gifts to several wedding couples recently (relatives, stepsiblings, kids of good friends), and not one of them has responded with a word of thanks, written or verbal. This p----s me off to the point that I want to call them up and tell them what incredibly bad manners they have. Do us gift-givers just suck it up, or is there some way to seek our revenge?

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A: During graduation season I was thinking that if I were to give a commencement address it would open with: “Write thank you notes.” Often people dismiss this obligation as some fusty leftover from an oppressively formal time. It’s not. Thank you notes touch on some basic and universal human issues of respect and reciprocity. It is maddening to go out of your way to do something generous for someone and not have your efforts acknowledged. The young graduates who write their thanks to people who interview them or help them in their job search will absolutely stand out from the crowd. As for your young marrieds, don’t compound their rudeness with your own by reaming them out. If you have sent a gift that was not acknowledged, it’s perfectly fine to inquire of the recipients whether it arrived. Things do get lost, after all. If that doesn’t prompt a thank you, then consider it a financial boon. For couples who can’t express appreciation for a wedding gift, feel free to skip sending something for the baby shower.

Q. Too Many Ex-Boyfriends: I am post-grad who like many others, has dated a few people in my social group. I recently met and fell in love with a man I plan to marry (via online dating) and introduced him to my social group at a large party. One of the guys I dated briefly was there and my man was very upset. He says he doesn’t like being around guys I slept with. I think he should just get over it but he says I need to stop going to places where my “past is around.” What say you?

A: I say hold off on the wedding planning. It sounds as if you have gotten engaged really quickly if your friends are only now meeting your fiancé. There are people who consider being virgins when they marry to be an important value. Presumably, you and your fiancé are not among these people. Yet he wants you to strike from your social group anyone who may have had previous intimate knowledge of you. Let’s say you had been married before and had had a child with your ex. I assume the father of your kid would not be verboten because he reminded your new love that you had loved someone else. Extreme jealousy is highly destructive to a relationship. Your boyfriend is exhibiting a bad case of it, which should put your planning for the future on pause.

Q. Re: Ship without a pendant: I second going to the chaplain. I would also note that you have complete confidentiality when talking to chaplains. So you can feel safe to tell them anything. I have served as a JAG in the military and I would also pass along a piece of advice that I’ve given everyone from E-1 to flag officers—if you think your wife is going to throw mud at you, tell your superior officer about the possibility. It’s embarrassing, but my experience is that your superiors will take it better if they have a heads up from you than if they hear from her out of the blue. It might not solve the issue but it could help with damage control.

A: Thanks for this insight, especially about pre-emptively warning his superiors. Obviously, he only wants to do that if he’s sure his wife is going to war.

Q. #HotGirlProblems: I started a new job several months ago. Almost immediately, I picked up on the repeated appearance of a certain co-worker whenever I go to lunch. This might sound like a coincidence, but we work downtown in a major city and I always leave the building to go to lunch. I go at different times of day (and not on the hour) and sit in different plazas and food courts but I see him sitting in the background more often than not. It is creepy. I didn't tell anyone about this because I don't want to seem paranoid or like I'm flattering myself about having a “stalker.” But today I walked to a new location 10 minutes away from work and he walked right in front of me and waved! I waved back but it was pretty unnerving and I can't pretend this isn't happening. We never talk at work and are never involved in any of the same projects. We just see each other in the hallway. Is this an unsolvable problem? Is it even a problem? I am married and he can see that.

A: You need to do some more reconnaissance before you take any action. I hope you have made a couple of friends at work you can you tell this to. Don't be melodramatic, just say that this has seemed to be a really odd pattern, and ask their help. Start going out to lunch with these friends and then all of you can track if this guy shows up. If not, go back to eating solo and see what happens. Usually, if someone at work is doing something that is making you uncomfortable, it's best to deal directly with that person. But this is so odd and undefinable, that I don't see how you say, “You seem to be stalking me at lunch. Am I mistaken?” After all, he can totally deny it, and you really can't say he's not allowed to eat at the same plazas you are. If you discover that indeed there is a pattern, this is the kind of thing that you can take to HR. Say you want to speak confidentially about this, you aren't sure what to do, and you need to get this on the record and get some professional advice.

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Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.