Evan,

I have spent the past 10 months with the greatest man. He had me from the start, but we took our time and moved slowly in order to build what I believe is the deepest love I’ve ever known. We talk about our future and he includes me in his big decisions (buying a house, getting engaged, moving, etc.) We have an open and honest relationship where we can speak our minds and work to better ourselves. He is in the military and he deploys in November. His job is demanding, but not to the point where he is unable to make a daily phone call. Which brings me to my problem.

My boyfriend makes little effort to contact me through the week. He may call once or twice and speak for less than 5 minutes. I will even text and not hear back from him. I am not used to this type of behavior from someone I am dating, especially someone I love. He is the same way with his friends and family. I’ve mentioned it to him several times, and he says that he will try to do better. It never happens. We live 30 miles away and only see each other on the weekends (which is why communication is so important). My needs are not being met but I do not want to end something wonderful for something that could easily be fixed. When I mentioned it to him a second time he pulled out his phone to show me a flower order he had purchased to send me the next day (yes, I felt like an idiot). Am I asking too much for him to keep contact with me through the week? I worry that if his communication skills are so terrible now that deployment will be impossible. Please help. -Lacy

Lacy,

Some of the best advice I ever got was this:

“When someone shows you who he is, believe him.”

Your boyfriend is showing you who he is. Believe him.

Make no mistake, it sounds like he’s a good man who sincerely loves you and sees a future with you. At the same time, it’s also obvious that despite his charms, he’s not a particularly good communicator.

Nor is he likely to be.

Not to make sweeping generalizations, but, well… a guy in the military is probably not going to be an ideal partner. He doesn’t control his own schedule. He keeps odd hours. He may be deployed for months at a time. He’s constantly surrounded by testosterone, not estrogen. He believes in structure and following orders.

When you told him your needs (call me before bed, just to say good night), he should have hopped to attention as if his Staff Sergeant were barking at him.

And if the best thing that a man can do to be a great partner is to pick up on his wife’s emotional cues and do little things to make her life better, a military man has to be somewhere at the bottom of the list.

This is not to say that there are no sensitive and loyal men in the Army or no happy wives of Marines, but that the stereotypical military man is not an ideal husband and many military relationships are strained by distance and communication.

But your guy is different. Your love is deeper. He understands you.

Excellent.

So when you told him your needs (call me before bed, just to say good night), he should have hopped to attention as if his Staff Sergeant were barking at him.

Except he didn’t.

Because he doesn’t want to talk to you that much.

Because he’s too busy to talk to you that much.

Because it’s not that important to please you.

Because that’s just not how he’s wired.

The answer could be all of the above or none of the above. Doesn’t really matter.

He’s shown you who he is.

Are you going to believe him? Are you going to accept him?

Some women can be content, knowing that they have a deep love, even if they only see their hubby three months out of the year and Skype him once a week.

Others cannot.

It’s up to you, Lacy, to decide which woman you are.

Just don’t spend much more effort trying to change him.

Lay out your terms one last time. This is what it takes to please me.

If your relationship is worth preserving and your request is reasonable, I assure you, he’ll honor it. If it’s all too much trouble for him, he won’t.

Either way, you’ll have your answer and you can sleep well knowing that you couldn’t have done anything “better” to make things work.

Hope it all works out for you.