The fact that hubby’s in the military explains it all. This situation is very common among married couples in the military.
His buddies are probably all single, so they have no concept of the pressure they’re putting on him or of the responsibilities he has at home. Then there’s the traditional military emphasis on loyalty and uniformity within the team–all the members are taught to be there for each other at all times, including for parties and nights out with the boys. The married guys in the team are sometimes seen as having split loyalties, and pressure is put on them to get with the program and do all the things the team does. Then there’s the general immaturity of many people in the military–servicemen are wards of the state, and the military pretty much looks out for all their needs. All they have left to do is work hard and party hard. That’s enough of a good life for most servicemen, and they can be a disdainful of those who would choose to saddle themselves with additional responsibilities like a wife and children.
And 2-4 nights out with the boys per month is a lot. That’s one night a weekend on most weekends. Add to that all the times hubby has to be away from home on weekends for the occasional deployment, field exercise, guard detail, etc., and I would say that you’re being pretty liberal with him and allowing him a lot of time with the boys.
What to do? First, if he wants to get rid of the “p-whipped” label, he has gotta quit saying, “I have to go home because the wife wants me home tonight.” Instead, he needs to say, “I have to go home because I want to be with my wife and kids tonight.” In other words, he needs to quit pushing the blame onto you and start putting out the message that this is something he wants and is comfortable with.
Second, he needs to convey the message to his buddies that he has obligations and responsibilities to you and the kids, and that he takes these obligations and responsibilities very seriously. This is something his buddies will understand, even if they don’t understand anything else about his situation. Military people understand the need to fulfill obligations and responsibilities, when it is spelled out to them in that language.
Third point (sort of like the first point): he needs to quit apologizing for being married and start conveying to people that married life is better than being single. He needs to say, “I’ve been single, and now I’m married with kids. I prefer being married with kids.” The single guys may not understand this, but if he makes a spirited defense of married life then the single guys will accept that it’s the right thing for him and quit bugging him about it.
Basically, he can’t be all things to all people. He can’t do right by his buddies and be there for them at all times and do right by his family and give them ample time too. He’s married now, and he needs to convey to his friends that this is the life that he wants, and they’re just going to have to accept that he can’t be there full-time for them.
I was single when I was in the military, and I never really understood the married guys and the priorities they set for themselves. Why go home to a wife and kids each evening when you could go out to a stripper bar and get drunk? Still, I respected the married guys who made no bones about the fact that they were married and who didn’t apologize about going home to their wives. In other words, I had the most respect for the guys who handled things exactly as I described in my three points above.
By the way, if he really needs more time with the boys, or if you really need him home on the weekends and need to do some tradeoffs so that he has time with the boys at other times during the week, then give him part of a week night or something. For example, on Wednesday nights he could go for a beer with the boys right after work, do dinner with them, and then still arrive home before 8 pm. His friends might get more of a sense that he’s available for him, and yet you would still have him most of the evening. It’s just a suggestion.
Good luck, tatertot. Service wives experience marital pressures and strains unlike those faced by wives of men in other professions, and I have nothing but admiration for the average service wife who is able to maintain a happy and sane home under those conditions.