Dear Thelma: My wife is a liar and cheats on me

Dear Thelma,

I have been married for 13 years and life was good. In 2012, I resigned from a consultancy firm and ventured into business. However, the business failed and I ended up losing all my savings.

My wife stood by me although many of my family members who had treated me as their cash cow, did not believe I was truly broke.

At this juncture, I started drinking more than usual and landed in debt. Then K, a friend of my wife, came along and got me a job, and I started all over again. We became good friends and K visited us often and spent weekends with my family.

After some time, I sensed something more than friendship between my wife and K but I dismissed these thoughts as K was married with kids.

Then my wife began to decline sex, citing tiredness due to work. She started wearing designer clothes, claiming she bought them at a sale. She often returned home late on weekends, claiming she was out with colleagues.

One day, I was in a mall waiting for a client, and saw my wife and K in a restaurant. I called my wife on her mobile, and she said she was at a meeting with her boss. I could not contain myself anymore and turned up at the restaurant. My wife and K were stunned to see me. I walked away after that.

My wife returned home and explained that it was an unscheduled meeting as K wanted advice on a family matter, so she could not reveal her actual whereabouts. K also apologised to me and said I would be informed if he ever needed my wife’s advice in future.

Three months ago, my wife told me she would be away for three days on company business. This time, I did not buy her story. I took a bus out of town and popped up at the hotel where she regularly stayed on company trips. I told the reception desk that it was her wedding anniversary and I was there to deliver a cake to her room and her husband was scheduled to check in anytime soon. The receptionist told me that the husband had already checked in earlier.

I was allowed to deliver the cake to her room. I knocked on the door, and my wife opened the door. She was in a bathrobe, while K was lying on the bed.

My wife was speechless when she saw me. K jumped out of bed and sat on a chair in the room. I asked them to explain what was going on. They denied they were having an affair. My wife said K was on a working trip and there were no available rooms in the vicinity that night, so he dropped by her hotel. That was such an obvious lie.

I told her we would decide on our marriage when she returned to KL, and I left the hotel. I have been having sleepless nights since. I have not filed for divorce yet.

Recently, I got posted to Thailand, and I can only imagine the gala time they must be having.

I don’t want to poison the children’s minds by asking them if K (whom they know as “Uncle”) had been visiting them.

Should I carry on living with her for the sake of our three small kids or should we go our separate ways? I feel tempted to turn to the bottle for solace. — Miserable Hubby

Dear Miserable Hubby,

No one can help you answer the question – should you continue living with your wife – except yourself. What others can do is to help you see the situation for what it is, and provide some options.

Your doubts are warranted. There have been too many lies and it is now hard to tell truth from fiction.

You have chosen silence as a way to deal with the situation. You are silent because you don’t know what to say or how to deal with the situation.

At the moment, you are out of the country and do not know the status of their relationship. They could be having a gala time together or they may have stopped seeing each other after they got caught. You should not ask the children, either.

You can deal with this by avoiding the issue but this is not going to help. The irony of this kind of coping mechanism is that the harder you try not to think about something, the more these unhelpful thoughts flood your mind and overwhelm you and you feel the urge to go back to drinking.

Is drinking going to help the situation? No. No matter how much you drink, the problem remains. You may get a temporary reprieve from thinking about it. That is all. Then the thoughts return and you drink some more. All you will end up with is another problem – alcoholism. It is not worth it. Don’t do it.

It would be best if you could sit them down together and have a rational discussion about the whole situation. Let them know your doubts, fears and worries. Tell them you are contemplating divorce. Then let them tell you what it is that they want.

It may be folly to stay married for the sake of the children. Staying married and being unhappy is far more damaging than separating and living happier lives. Couples may stay together for the children’s sake but their open hostility and arguments may affect the children negatively.

Divorce is unpleasant and painful for everyone involved. If handled properly and the children are made to understand what is happening minus the tawdry details, they can learn to cope positively. Divorce itself may not harm children. If the adults poison the children’s minds or use the children as leverage in the divorce, it can be harmful to the children.

If you are thinking of your children’s best interest, consider if you can provide them with a happy home by remaining with your wife. Children need a safe and happy home. That is what it means to be in the best interest of the child.

It is important to think about what it is that you want. Think about the choices ahead of you. You can continue living separately like this. You can remain married to your wife but can you ever trust her again?

You could choose to go back to marital bliss with your wife if she agrees to sever ties with K. That means no friendship, either. The two of you will have to rebuild your relationship. It won’t be the same as before. It will be painful initially but the pain will ease with time and you can even be happy again. You can even seek marriage therapy to help with the process.

Or, you could seek a divorce. It will be painful and tedious. A lot of effort will be required to make sure the two of you remain civil and things don’t become bitter and ugly. A lot of level-headedness will be required to deal with the intricacies involved, such as child custody and visitation rights.

There is no need to be hostile after the divorce. You can choose to be amicable with each other and do what is necessary to co-parent effectively. Divorce is not an easy process but it may be a way for you to move forward with your life, and she with hers.

The best way to move forward is to deal with life’s problems. Avoiding does not help. Neither does drowning one’s sorrows.

It is always better to grab the bull by the horns and move on with what needs to be done. – Thelma

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.

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