Post-Military behavior question

My military guy has created a split personality for himself to help him separate his work life from his personal life. When he’s at work he is very defensive, cold, and harsh, and it takes him a while to remove his armor when he gets home (and sometimes he barks at me by accident, which really doesn’t work for me). He has worked very hard to treat me well, and is really fantastic.

My question is, once he is no longer in the military, will he need an outlet for the defensive/aggressive side of his personality, or will he be able to let it go? He created that persona so that he could deal with the environment in which he works without getting hurt. I’m just concerned that after so many years of practicing it, it will have become a permanent fixture. Does anyone have any experience with this? I’ve sort of broached the subject with him, and he had never considered it. Just trying to get some perspective (acknowledging that everyone will be different).

5 thoughts on “Post-Military behavior question

  1. Dan says:

    [It took me a few years to start to calm down and leave The Corps behind when I got out. It was less than ideal… looking back some professional help would’ve gone a long ways so that’s what I suggest to you. I imagine sooner is better don’t just wait for his EAS. Better to find out now what you’re both dealing with!

    • Haliax says:

      [Oh no! I completely hit the wrong side of the helpful button!

      Thank you for your help! And not waiting to find out is exactly why I’m asking the questions I am.

  2. Katie @ Domestiphobia says:

    [Okay. This is a tough one because, like you said, everyone is different.

    You say he “created a split personality” and “created a persona,” and I’m curious — are those your phrases or his? In other words, did he tell you he created an “alternate work ego” to deal with military demands, or is that an assumption you’ve made because he’s different than when you got married? Because here’s the thing — my husband is in the military, has been since he was 18, and it’s changed him over the years. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes not — but, as you know, the demands placed on active duty military are a bit more… rigorous than say someone working a normal office job. So —

    1. It’s entirely possible that your husband IS changing. It’s not two separate personalities, but the person he’s changing into due to the strains of his job. If that’s the case, have you two discussed it? You say it doesn’t work for you (ENTIRELY understandable), but have you told him that? If this is a decision he’s making — consciously or unconsciously — to turn into a brusque and difficult person at home as well as at work, he needs to be aware of the strain it’s putting on you. Then, maybe the two of you can seek help or, if he’s up for it, he can talk to a counselor to figure out how to better deal with the demands he faces at work.

    Also, the current military atmosphere might make it pretty easy for him to consider getting out — with plenty of benefits he wouldn’t have otherwise gotten when leaving prior to retirement. If you two talk it out, maybe you’ll both realize that continuing this path might not be the wisest career move — for either of you. (Because as much as I love to say that a military spouse can and should maintain her independence and identity, the truth is that a military life affects you as much as it affects him — so the decision should be BOTH of yours.)

    2. If he told you he’s created this alternate persona to deal with work, I still don’t think you should write off the fact that it’s likely to change him at home as well. In which case, everything I said above still applies. He didn’t marry a doormat. He married a living, breathing woman with feelings and certain expectations about the respect the two of you would have for each other throughout your marriage. TALK IT OUT. Very clearly communicating with him how you feel is the number one thing you can do to work through this, and it just so happens to be the first thing people neglect to do.

    3. PTSD. It’s real. If he’s been through some rough deployments, consider this a possibility, in which case he needs to seek professional help. As a spouse, you might be someone he’s inclined to push away if he’s dealing with PTSD. And if you can’t talk to him about it, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk to anyone. Talk to your resources at family support. Find out your options. If this is something he might be suffering from, it’s not only awful but potentially dangerous for you both. And, while I’m no expert, I’ve never heard of it magically “curing” itself.

    What all of this rambling comes down to you is that you need to start by talking to your husband. Sit down. Take a breath. Have dinner at the table with the television off and take a little time to ask each other:
    1) How was your week?
    2) What have I done to make you feel loved this week?
    3) What do you have coming up this week?
    4) What can I do to help make your upcoming week better?

    You both might be surprised by the answers.

    • Katie @ Domestiphobia says:

      [Oh P.S. I’m sorry I assumed you were married but you said “my military guy.” Everything basically still applies, though! Having a healthy, communicative relationship has little to do with being married, and everything to do with how much you actually talk to each other.

    • Haliax says:

      [He has told me that he created that personality to deal with his work atmosphere. And we’re not married, so thanks for the correction. I wouldn’t jump into that without having these questions sorted out first.

      He just got back from a long deployment, and we’ve just now had a chance to hash out all of this (thank goodness!). And what I’ve seen as he has come out of his deployment is a deliberate release of his work coping mechanism. He has also said that he couldn’t keep himself bottled up anymore, and that it has been nice to take his armor off. That has put my mind at ease about some of this question.

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