Husband Doesn't Know if He Wants to Be Married

Life as I know it hangs by a thread; I am broken hearted and refuse to give up on our marriage. How do I get through this?


  • Married for 17 years, engaged for 4 (during college)
  • 3 children ages 4, 13, and 14
  • Husband is a military officer of 17 years and has been deployed over 34 months
  • He is a great husband & great father
  • No infidelity

Last spring he came to me saying he didn’t know if he wanted to married anymore but wasn’t sure why. This is the same man who came from a broken family and was dead against even bringing up the word divorce up until now. HE insisted we go to marriage counseling, which I was all for. In addition he has his own therapist that deals with wartime issues (PTS and survivor’s guilt). I see someone on my own too. Our counselor is Catholic so she understands my take on divorce. I’ve talked to our family priest who was very hopeful based on my husband seeking help.

As it stands now we are going through the reconciliation process, but he still has the tendency to become disconnected. He’ll snap back and he gets back to normal. This roller coaster has taken a toll on me emotionally and he feels intense guilt for putting me through this. He is going to decide in a couple of weeks what he is going to do regarding staying or getting a divorce. Our relationship (minus his confusion) is great…we are kind and loving to each other and rarely argue, we enjoy each other’s company, and we have not other stresses in our marriage. He tells me he loves me and I am the perfect wife – doing everything right. I can see the pain and confusion in his eyes, my heart breaks for him too. The war has really changed him and his outlook on life. He is still a great husband nontheless.

It is very bothersome to him that he has these feeling that make him want to be single. I believe with all my heart he wants them to go away. I just think it will take time for him to get himself fixed.

Right now I feel so lost. He is gone a lot so it is hard to stay connected. Mentally this is taking a toll on me. I started antidepressants a few months ago to help numb the pain and put on a strong front for him. When I get overly emotional it only makes him feel guilty and pull away. The harder I hang on, the more I love him.

Pray gets me through the day. As much as I want to hang on, I feel like I’m near my breaking point.

Any input/advice/encouragement/prayers would be much appreciated.

Divorce isn’t the solution. He needs to deal with the PTSD issues. He’s thinking being single will cure all his conflicting emotions. Have you talked to the chaplain? You need to urge him to give himself more time. How he feels now is not how he’s going to feel half a year from now or a year or more from now. It isn’t the time to make permanent decisions based on being reintroduced to real life. His kids need him, you need him, and he needs all of you.

I’m so sorry for this. I’ll pray for you and your family, GP.


I don’t know much about it myself, but I’ve heard some veterans speak highly of this kind of program for those with PTSD.


Funny you mention EMDR therapy. Our marital counselor actually does it and suggested that my husband try it either with her or someone else. I may bring it up at the next session.

The odd thing is that he can rationalize that this will pass and he will regret it if he leaves. He is really trying hard to get his mind straight and I know he is frustrated. I harbor no ill feeling as I know this is hard on him too.

Even though I get discouraged sometimes, deep in my heart I know we will pull through this and our marriage will be that much stronger.

Keep me posted on that EMDR therapy. I’m very interested in whether something like that would help. I have another friend going through the exact same thing. (You’re my friend now. :slight_smile: )

You’re lucky if your counselor actually does the EMDR and you don’t have to go find someone else.

I think right now your husband’s fight or flight response is still on HIGH. He’s gotta turn it off. This too shall pass.

It’s good you’re not taking this personally. It’s one of the pits and valleys of marriage. He can’t leave at the low point. He’d understand that from a military viewpoint. If you abandon the mission too early you won’t win the war.

I’ve heard that being around nature is deeply healing for these guys. Going out fishing… hunting with buddies and decompressing that way helps them put it in perspective.

YOU fill YOUR well with your family, your friends, your best girlfriends, God. That way you can be a support to him. Right now he doesn’t have much to give. You’re gonna carry the load more like 90/10 for a while. But it sounds like essentially the man you married is still in there. And you two still love each other. He can’t abandon his “post.”

Good luck on the counseling. Please keep us posted.

I just want to say that I’ll pray for you and your husband. How difficult this must be.

I’m so sorry, Georgia. I think that when we’re faced with trauma, a natural reaction is to ‘flee.’ I’m wondering if your husband is feeling this way. He is back home now, trying to ‘go back to normal.’ His normal has been so different than what we’re all accustomed to on a daily basis. And traumatic memories and thoughts can often trigger the desire to ‘run away.’ Because you’re trying to ‘run away’ from yourself, in ways. :frowning: The reality is…he leaves you, his problems sitll remain. He runs away, his problems will still follow him. :o I will keep you and your husband in my prayers…praying for your marriage to weather this storm and be stronger on the other side. :gopray:

I think a lot of our guys go over there and encounter evil in a way they don’t encounter it here. Once you do that, the world doesn’t “fit” the way it used to. Your place in the world and the way you view everything changes when you have come face to face with evil.

It’s readjusting to a world that doesn’t fit that makes them think that getting rid of everything old (even the family) will fix things. But it doesn’t.

People go through similar things on the death of a parent or other big losses. The smart ones don’t make any permanent decisions till their inner life is settled.

I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family.

*Liberano-Yep, absolutely agree. I almost left my husband over the loss of my parents. It is strange how our minds work sometimes, but for some reason, a person thinks that running away, or changing to something else will help the situation. But, it doesn’t.

In a war veteran’s case…I can’t imagine the memories and the ‘trying to fit back in’ …it has to be hard. I was reading an article the other day about this very thing, it was heart breaking.

Again, Georgia, we are praying for you both. (I sent you a pm)*

*Georgia, I don’t know if this sounds out in left field, but I was thinking too…maybe since your husband was used to such an unpredictable environment that he had to get used to…now he’s back into the predictable, and it’s daunting. Just a thought I had. *

This is one of the great tragedies of military life. You are not the first one whose spouse was changed, and not for the better, by combat experience.

Do your best to love him, and let him know you are with him for the long haul.

And pray.

That’s all you can do. You seem to be doing the right things. Just don’t expect things to heal overnight (though you wish they would and you BOTH deserve them to).


in addition to all the excellent things you’re already doing:

pray for the healing of his memories.

begin with prayer and fasting.

if he allows you to, pray with him. start with super intense prayer to St Michael the Archangel. pray that like there’s no tomorrow. then pray for the healing of your husband’s memories.

[when events generate some falsehood-- some lie–and cause the lie to dig deep within us, that’s when the memories make a mess in us. (i.e., rape victims believe they’re dirty. crash survivors believe they are unworthy to survive. children of divorce believe they weren’t good enough to keep their family together. perpetrators believe their sin is BIGGER than God’s mercy. etc.) these lies come from the same place all lies come-- from the father of all lies. THAT’S why we fast and pray first. THAT’S why we ask for powerful Michael to protect us.]

if he doesn’t want to let you pray for the healing of his memories, do all this it in quiet by yourself.

and if your husband hasn’t gone to confession since he’s been home, urge him to. more still, pray he finds a specific confessor.

and keep doing all the loving things you’re doing. receive Our Eucharistic Lord for your husband’s healing. often.

(I am not suggesting the ‘name it and claim it’ damage that’s been done to the reality of spiritual healing. i’m suggesting instead, a trusting and hopful and concerted prayer committment with the intention of healing your good husband’s memories. he was a warrior in the middle east. now you may be called to be the prayer warrior for him.)

I really don’t know anything about these situations. I only know that my husband who is a doctor out here in Germany treating military members and their families is shocked at the very high rate of marital distress and breakdown that his patients are suffering. Unfortunately I think this is more the norm than not, I know that is not comforting but it is very clear it is the circumstances you find yourselves in and not your relationship per se. Have you asked your husband if he can think of anything that would make him feel better? Sometimes if we listen to ourselves we know what would start our healing. Has your dh had any serious time out from everything? Not a vacation but just a leave of absence from life? Does he have a close friend or brother who he could disappear into the wilderness with for a few weeks or something similar?

Maybe my suggesions are lame :frowning: it just seems after such a shattering of your world view and maybe your trust in the world and all you knew to be secure (including marriage and family) it would be normal to have a long readjustment. Is it the responsibilities of homelife that are overwhelming for him? My heart goes out to you, how many of us in this modern world have any idea of what veterans of war experience?

I’ll pray and I’ll also ask my dh for any suggestions or resources that he knows about.

I am overwhelmed by all of the thoughtful responses. It means the world to me. I’ve looked for advice elsewhere and all I get are “he’s cheating on you” and “leave him now” type comments.

If it were an issue of him having an affair, things would be easier. In our situation we are dealing with feelings that are hard to wrap our heads around. He is at the point now where he is looking for someone to blame, right now it is me. He doesn’t say it outright, but I feel it. I won’t lie, I’ve made my share of mistakes trying to deal with the intense worry I get when he deploys. Nothing big, but the little things add up. It times I was angry that he seemed to put his career ahead of family. It times I would pull away because the pain of him leaving again was so intense. I focused on the kids too much at times.

Right now he is stationed where deployments are rare. This was supposed to be our time to reconnect. Soon after we got here he took on assignments that take him all over the world (no war zones though). His career is going great but at least one 12 month deployment is in his future before he has the option to retire. He doesn’t know what he wants to do and it bothers him. As I said before, reconciliation is difficult when he is TDY at least half of each month. Just when he started making progress he lost 13 of his former soldiers in a two week period, he was devastated and shut down for a while.

Kindness: I agree, this war has taken a toll on military families. Any insight your husband has to offer would be great. He does have time to “get away.” He goes TDY to really exciting places and has expressed that it help him just to be alone. I make sure that his home life is a safe and relaxing place for him.

MoniCatholic: I will take your advice on prayer and fasting. You comment on falsehood really spoke to me.

Whatevergirl: His therapist told him pretty much what you said, running won’t fix things as his issues won’t go away. Rationally he knows this but the feeling to run is very intense.

Liberanosamalo: You are right on with your comments. He actually spent time with the boys at scout camp last summer. It was very healing for him. I have encouraged him to make time for hunting and other outdoor activities.

I have been on the edge of running myself. My psychiatrist told me I should call his bluff and leave, good thing I just get my antidepressants from her, not marital advice. I just can’t bring myself to do it. All of the posts here have given me the encouragement to keep on. The stakes are too high. I’m willing to carry 90% of the burden for as long as it takes. I know once God heals him our marriage will be better off for the experience.

*Georgia, hang in there…God has you by the hand. I know it’s going to be tough though! In regards to people who suggest that he’s having an affair, and that you should just leave…it’s a typical response when we hear of men and women ‘‘out of the blue’’ wanting to leave. I admit, when I read the title of your thread and nothing else, the thought fleeted in and out of my head. But, the truth is, these things don’t happen in a vacuum, out of the blue. Your husband and you have probably been heading in this direction for some time, but he finally reached a ‘‘breaking point.’’ I have often wondered about wives of soldiers (and husbands of soldiers) who go off to battle, and how immensely painful that must be…how scary, wondering what might happen. I can understand your pulling away that you mention.

In the end, God takes care of us, and He will get you both through this. I pray that your husband chooses to listen to his therapist and not run. Running can solve things for a time, but when you stop running, you are still left with yourself and the problems ran with you! (you being relative, not you as in Georgia)

I will be praying for you, stay strong, and trust in God. *

Peach, in some ways the military man’s career is indistinguishable from his person in a way other “jobs” are not. It’s like being a mom becomes indistinguishable from who you are. So it’s almost not fair to accuse them of putting that ahead of “family.” In peacetime it can be almost a 9-5 thing, but your marriage roulette wheel stopped on “GWOT”. Like other generations stopped on “WWI” and “WWII” or “KOREA” or “VIETNAM.”

You’re picking up a huge amount of the burden. And I know it seems like the rest of the world is at the mall and doesn’t care, but there are many of us who have loved ones who have or are serving and we know what you’re going through. What you have to do is take any accusations that he has put anything above his family off the table. NO BLAME. You and the kids are paying an awful price in separation and stress and loneliness, but what he is doing is very sacrificial. He’s fighting it over there so it never will happen here again. That is heroic. (Please, readers, do NOT turn this into a war debate. She doesn’t need it. NO family member needs that!)

Your children are watching someone put duty and responsibility first.

What your issue is now is how to help the man who comes back from that. Losing friends, mourning, grieving… he isn’t made of iron, despite his strength.

I have an odd suggestion to make. Please order online and read and have him read Gabriel Amorth’s book AN EXORCIST TELLS HIS STORY.

If you Google Fr. Gabrial Amorth’s name, you will come upon articles like this.

Our guys have gone over and are fighting in areas of the world that literally have not been exposed to the light of Christ or Christianity. They are encountering evil in a way that only exorcists have. But they may not understand what they are encountering. Rev. Malachi Martin was a late exorcist working in our own country who had written on the subject. He spoke of the toll every exorcism and every encounter with evil took upon the exorcist.

Our soldiers are out there on a battlefield fighting something very evil. And I’m not talking about Islam per se. Depression and PTSD are a SANE reaction to that encounter. I would worry about someone who could be in those environments who did NOT react to it. What he encountered has followed him in a sense. He can run, but he can’t hide. The spiritual component of healing from this kind of thing cannot be overlooked. You need to convince your husband you are not the enemy. He knows this, but he needs to hear it from you. You need to tell him you have his six. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. You need to be praying the Rosary for him, (better if he can start praying it with you. And that prayer to St. Michael. (The patron of soldiers.) Is there anywhere where you can go spend time at Adoration, where he can feel that safety and peace that only God can bring?

Satan loves to break up families. He knows that when our guys come back, their family is a refuge and support system and without it they will be easier to pick off. Satan is mad at those guys for trying to fight evil.

I don’t think there is any coincidence that so many are having marital problems as they come back.

What says his chaplain?

The spiritual component of healing from this kind of thing cannot be overlooked. You need to convince your husband you are not the enemy. He knows this, but he needs to hear it from you. You need to tell him you have his six. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. You need to be praying the Rosary for him, (better if he can start praying it with you. And that prayer to St. Michael. (The patron of soldiers.) Is there anywhere where you can go spend time at Adoration, where he can feel that safety and peace that only God can bring?

In the words of boxer great, James J Braddock, “that’s what i been tryin’ t’tell ya.” you nailed the spiritual warfare component in this, Lib. and you’re oh so right. PTSD is a sane response to being steeped in insane environment.

GeorgiaP, pray for the miracle. God has one specially pointed at your husband and family.

and one other thing-- do you know any holy VFW? ask him privately to pray for your husband. he knows the words to that prayer.

You know, it isn’t so much just that it’s an insane environment…

our guys are trained in weaponry, tactics and other things to prepare them for the battlefield, but I think many are woefully unprepared for the REALITY of the battlefield and the wartime environment.

In a way that only cops and EMTs may see, they also are finding themselves subject at very young ages to eternity. They are seeing Evil personified. They are seeing, many of them, incredibly holy and GOOD men sacrificing themselves for their brothers in arms. They are witnessing souls at the moment of death… they are having an encounter with eternity. They are seeing things they don’t even have a vocabulary to describe. They come back here and cannot talk about it because they don’t even have the words, or may think someone will think they’re crazy, or they only half believe what they saw and so they keep it to themselves. But that doesn’t mean that once they’ve viewed a glimpse of eternity, whether the demonic, or the unexplained angelic, or a soul meeting his God… well, this world doesn’t fit anymore. It’s too small. They don’t have the tools to reintegrate into humdrum daily life with people who couldn’t grasp what they saw. It has nothing to do with pride, because many of these men are incredibly humble. But it magnifies their isolation. And maybe isolation is what your husband feels right now, Peach.

The solution isn’t to flee those who haven’t experienced the same. It’s to come back and be a witness to it and to guide others. Maybe talking to EMTs or some good Catholic policemen would also help. They see a similar battle between good and evil here on our own shores.

GP, I’m going to suggest a specific and very big prayer (to supplement the many other good suggestions already noted) that has the power to heal very big family problems - Consecrating Your Family - big because it is a 40-day program of reading-praying specific prayers as outlined on a free online website (link below). Kinda like a novena, kinda like a retreat - but something you can do right at home. You’ll already know many of the prayers - Rosary, etc, but here they are purposed specifically to bring big healing and reparation specifically for the benefit of your family.

Families are under attack today by the evil one - who will do whatever he can to destroy them; this is a way to fight back - please take a look at least to the introduction -

It is meant to be prayed/read by the whole family (for maximum benefit), but if your husband refuses, start it yourself (w/kiddos) and leave a copy where he can find it. This transformed my marriage and family, which was on the brink of destruction a mere 5 years ago. The first year I ‘tolerated’ it while my wife spearheaded the effort. We renew the consecration annually now, and it continues to strengthen all aspects of our marriage, family, and childrens lives. We lead groups of families nowadays and it tremendously benefits all who utilize it. I’d be happy to answer any questions - just pm me. The proof is in the prayers - please take a look. :thumbsup:

link -


Yesterday I prayed and prayed for insight. It lead me here. I haven’t posted in a while, couldn’t even remember my password. Most people just don’t understand the dynamics of marital issues when war is involve. One of my favorite sayings is “America is not at war, our military is, America is at the mall.” I can’t even watch the news anymore because they dehumanize our troops so much, even the well meaning ones. They don’t know what they are talking about 90% of the time. “30,000 troops” just rolls off their tongues. These are 30,000 humans with families.

Liberanosamalo - You have hit the nail on the head over and over again with your posts. My husband is SF and there are a lot of things he can’t talk about, even if he wanted to. Before he leaves I’m not even sure where he is going. Contact is minimal. When he returns there is no fanfare, I just pick him up at his hanger. As soon as he gets back he is gearing up for the next one.

I read the article you posted. I will order the book too. I’ve considered the aspect of evil but not in the way you speak of. It gives me a lot to think about. He is having a hard time reconciling his faith in God with the horrific things he has seen. Honestly, I don’t know how he is doing so well considering.

He has seen several Chaplains but they have not been helpful. He’s talked to several priests about things while at confession. We saw a Chaplain together as a couple but he told us what we already knew and didn’t offer much help. He talked a lot about his own issues, which didn’t apply to us. People tell us to go to a Marriage Encounter but I don’t think we are ready for that yet. I fear it might be an emotional overload for him at this point.

MoniCatholic: I know a very holy VFW, my grandfather. He passed away about 18 months ago and I ask for his prayers constantly.

Thanks again everyone! I have so much to think about now.

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