He Said and She Said their advice on – an ethical choice a man makes on how to ‘be’ with the family of a buddy who deploys:
I’m a single guy stationed here with a long-distance girlfriend. That’s not the problem and that relationship works very well for both of us. My problem is that my sponsor here has become a great friend. He and his Family have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable.
When I was here at Thanksgiving a year ago and couldn’t go home because of work, they took me in and fed me. They invite me to Family night activities; their kids’ soccer games and just about anytime when I am not traveling back to Iowa to see my girlfriend. It’s been a standing invite and I know that I can always bow out. However, my buddy is getting ready to deploy. He’ll be gone for a year and I know that his Family will probably still invite me to events, meals and movie night, but I really would feel weird hanging out with his wife without him around. Of course people would talk and tongues wag, but there would be nothing between us. And deep down, I sense that my buddy could become a little jealous, too. I don’t want to hurt their feelings and I have talked to him about this and he laughs it off. I mentioned it in front of both of them and they both thought I was being silly, but a year is a long time and I don’t want to be in an uncomfortable position (and it would be for me.) Any suggestion will be appreciated.
HE SAID: Anyone who has been in the military for a considerable amount of time has faced similar situations and I have to tell you I respect your sense of boundaries and so should you. You should listen to them. As a matter of fact we were very close to our neighbors when her husband deployed. They are both wonderful people and I know without any doubt they were both completely dedicated to each other as Pam and I are. While he was deployed, she sometimes invited us over and we went. If she needed help, we helped her, but we did it together as a couple. There were a couple of occasions when Pam was out of town and she had people over for a 4th of July party and other similar events and she invited me to come over. I too felt it would have been disrespectful to both my wife and her husband to spend time in her house with neither of them being there, so I politely declined. There were a couple of occasions like when her water heater went out and she needed immediate assistance that I did go over and help; I didn’t like doing it without my wife who was out of town, but I wasn’t willing to let her Family suffer either.
I would suggest that if you ever do go over there while he’s gone, take someone with you if you’re helping out, but only go over socially if your girlfriend is in town. Trust me, they will both understand and appreciate your concern that the mere appearance could tarnish her reputation and make you feel worse that you ever would if you ignored your instincts and the wagging tongues caused drama within their marriage or your friendship with either of them.
Stay morally strong – it is a great example to set for those who look up to you and it will help you sleep better at night.
SHE SAID: I admire your insight and totally agree with you. Even if your friends are comfortable with it, gossip will ensue.
The bottom line is, it is disrespectful to him and your girlfriend, simply because of the perception. There are some options. One would be that you would be happy to spend time with his Family in his absence if a third party could be available. Whether it is a friend of hers, or a friend you bring along, there is “safety in numbers.” The only exception to this may be if she needs assistance with something, like moving items or repairing something in the home. Even then, I would try to bring someone with you. Human nature being as it is, your intentions, her intentions, and even her husband’s intentions can be based on solid friendship, but it doesn’t stop people was from talking. An ounce of prevention…