Dear Sista Girl:
My man recently retired from the military after 24 years.
He was deployed several times during that time. Now, he has a decent, but demanding, job. At times he seems well adapted; however, his relationship and dating skills are lacking. I can forgive him for that because I’m no social butterfly myself, but I want to go on dates, share new experiences, and spend quality time with him.
I have been patient trying to give him the space and time he needs to acclimate to civilian life, but sometimes I feel he uses his past military service and long hours at his new job to garner extra sympathy when he says he’s too tired to spend time with me.
I love him. He says he loves me and can’t live without me. Am I being too hard on him by reminding him that he is no longer deployed? Should I be more sympathetic?
There is a fine patriotic line you’re walking, so tread lightly. If a former soldier is truly going through something, namely PTSD, you want to allow him the time to heal properly, if at all possible. You must respect his sacrifice for our country. During my many conversations, other soldiers tell me that the military emotionally stunts them. It’s hard to experience relationships the way regular civilians do. Most soldiers have to commit fast to maintain contact before deployments, so they don’t know how to date. It’s either fully commit—engagement, marriage—or cut bait.
At the same time, every person wants to be valued by their significant other and spend time together growing the relationship. If he is serious about wanting to make it work, he’ll make adjustments at your behest. These are my suggestions: (1) Have a discussion about his financial goals, his work schedule, and your future together, if there is one. (2) If he’d rather secure his finances or needs his space more than a woman in his life, then bow out gracefully. (3) If he wants it all, which includes you, stretch your patience a little thinner, assess your needs, and share them with him. (4) Ask him what he needs from you. (5) Track the changes he makes to keep you in his life and hold up your end of the deal. (6) If the changes are enough, STAY. If not, GO. Get out of the trenches and DON’T re-enlist.
It’s up to you how much time you give him to improve. You’ll know when enough is too much.
~ Sista Girl
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