DEAR ABBY: My sister needs help. Her husband, "Dale," who has been in the Reserve for 15 years, is being deployed to Kuwait next month, and she's a mess. She went to the emergency room this morning because she thought she was having a heart attack. It was an anxiety attack. One minute she's distraught because he's leaving; the next she wants to divorce him.
"Andrea" was always proud of Dale's service. She has happily bragged that she's an officer's wife, about the pay, the retirement that will come their way, and the travel deals they have enjoyed staying at Army properties all over the country. Until now, she has supported the action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, however, she has kicked Dale out of the house because she believes he has chosen the Army over their family. She says he won't be allowed to call or e-mail her or their two kids while he's on active duty.
Andrea refuses any suggestion of support services through the Army because she doesn't think the session will be kept confidential. Although I want to support her, I believe she's denying Dale the support he deserves. It infuriates me that she has been in favor of the military action as long as it involved other people's families and not her own.
Andrea and Dale have been married 20 years. She has never lived alone, nor does she have the means to support herself. She has been seeing a therapist for the past few months for depression, but her next session isn't for a few weeks. How can I help? What can anyone else do to help? -- CONCERNED SISTER
DEAR SISTER: Please put aside your anger and give your sister all the emotional support you can, because she's extremely needy right now. She has been hit with cold reality. Her behavior is irrational because she is frightened. Her husband is headed for a war zone from which he might not return. With her husband gone, she may also have to find a job to supplement his salary. She should be talking to her physician and clergyman as well as her therapist. (She may need medication as well as therapy to see her through.)
I hope your sister comes to her senses before it's too late, or she may spend the rest of her life regretting her immaturity and self-centeredness. Her attempts to punish her husband are counterproductive and could sabotage his peace of mind and safety. This is not a matter of choice. Her husband is fulfilling an obligation.