She says she will go to your CO. She says she has the entire Second Fleet on speed dial. She claims she has stories to share at Fort Story. What is she going to tell them? That you are an adulterer. That you hit her. That you neglect your kids. What can you do when she threatens to go to your command?
You Have Rights
You have probably heard the phrase, “Students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” It is from a major Supreme Court ruling that ruled freedom of expression is for everyone — students, teachers, wives, husbands — everywhere in the United States.
Unfortunately your wife may seize on a generalization of this to claim she has a perfect right to run to your CO with every little problem in your marriage. Military marriages have an added layer of stress that civilian marriages do not. Your job extends far beyond your work hours; she did not sign on to a military career. Yet she is affected by the same mechanisms that control you.
As experts at Milspousefest advise, though, scooting over to the CO with every minor complaint serves no positive purpose. Sure, she has a right to speak, but she also has a duty to work with you to resolve issues.
How do you get her to see this? Just as with any military conflict, you do not go to the most drastic measures first. Try reasoning with her. Try rooting out the underlying causes of her unhappiness or distrust.
Talk to Your CO
Your CO is not interested in every nuance of your life. You are under her or his command to do a job, just as in the civilian world. If you need to talk to your CO about your wife’s predilection to spread gossip or make unfounded accusations against you, make the conversation brief and clear.
If you need help, ask for it directly. Your CO is not your marriage counselor; any conversation needs to center on actions the two of you can take. If you do not have the situation under control, say so. Listen to and act on your CO’s recommendations.
You may think your honesty imperils you professionally, but think how your CO will view you when the situation spirals out of control later on, amid false accusations she flings at you and the CO.
As Army Wife 101 says, “the [Chain of Command] can only help in certain situations and nothing is guaranteed. They are not there to fix your marriage.”
Fix It Fast
If your CO is not there to fix your marriage, who is? Marriage counselors, extended family members, and your military buddies can all help.
Reach out to her family members. Reach out to your military buddies and their spouses. Your instinct may be to hide her behavior, but discussing it openly weakens her claims and strengthens your position. You are hiding nothing; you have done nothing wrong.
Marriage counseling could help. Before you say you cannot afford it, remember free resources are available. Before you worry that going to counseling will tarnish your reputation, consider how damaging her claims to your CO are.
If reasoning, talking, and counseling do not stop her threats and false claims of adultery, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, you have legal recourses.
Before she is able to make a claim against you, consider getting a protective order from her. You may be able to get a commissioned officer to issue a protective order based on her irrational behavior. A protective order from a commissioned officer would be applicable only on your military installation, but it is a start toward protecting yourself.
You can also get a civilian attorney to seek a similar protective order from her, as a way to protect your reputation and job while ensuring continued contact with your own children.
If she wrongly accuses you and does get a protective order against you, seek out a family law attorney immediately. Do not rely on a military lawyer, whose family law expertise probably would be severely limited. Most members of the JAG have no knowledge of applicable state laws, for example.
Her wrongs do not entitle you to counter with more wrongs. You need to react calmly, no matter the severity of her accusations. You can get an attorney to order her to cease and desist or to file divorce papers. You do not have to tolerate her irrational, fraudulent behavior.
Call a Military Divorce Leader
For Virginia’s military men, only The Firm For Men can provide the experience, the deep knowledge of family law and military matters, and the compassion needed to navigate divorce, separation, and other family law challenges. Contact us today, or telephone our offices at 757-383-9184. We are here to help.