Dear Thelma: My husband is abusive and I’ve fallen for another man


  • Family
  • Sunday, 04 Aug 2019

I’m in my mid-30s and have been married for three years. I have a child. I knew and dated my husband for three years before I got married to him.

It was a challenging three years for me because he was undecided as to whether to marry me or not and, during that process, he mentally tortured me and disrespected me many times.

I had to go through a number of heartbreaking times during our courtship because he was kind of looking for the “perfect bride-to-be”, someone who is able to impress him as well as his family in the most perfect way.

I had many times almost ended things with him due to his attitude but, being a believer that people are perhaps not mean but they become mean due to unpleasant experiences in their lives and everyone deserves a chance to be understood, I still tolerated him. And the fact that I was really in love with him.

I was confident that once we were married, things would change for the better and he would fall in love with me over time. So finally we got married. But even after we got married, I still didn’t see him change.

He was the same – a cold, unloving, uncaring person who just took me for granted. Perhaps he was never into me and never would be.

I wondered why he agreed to marry me if he wasn’t into me or cared or loved me. I was in agony, in pain and didn’t know what to do. I felt like my whole world came crushing down. I felt I had made a mistake in marrying him because he never loved me.

At that point in time, another man stepped into my life and we got very close together. He made me happy each time I was with him, and he felt the same way too. I almost felt like he was my soulmate. We could get along so well. We were best friends, we were each other’s comfort, we were lovers. But we were both feeling very guilty and helpless because both of us are married. So we ended our relationship.

During my courtship with this “friend” of mine, there were some exchanges via messages that my husband accidentally saw and he kept quiet, and did not tell me or ask me anything about it.

Instead he reacted towards me by giving me mental torture. And he knows this “friend” of mine and never liked him. There were fights between us which ended up in him physically abusing me in front of my child.

We have since sorted things out and spoken about these things, and he promised he would be a better husband and to put things in the past.

Although I have told him most things, I have not been completely honest with him. He assumes that my courtship with that friend of mine was only as normal lovers but he doesn’t know that my relationship with him was more than that. I feel terrible but I can’t tell him that, as I’m scared he will get furious and may even leave me or file for divorce.

Also now that I feel he is slowly putting in efforts to change and be a better husband, yet I can’t trust him completely.

I feel that I have already fallen out of love with him, due to the long-term mental torture and the heartbreaks he has caused me ever since I knew him. I felt he betrayed me and my feelings, and never appreciated me and instead took me for granted all the while. I was never understood, never loved, never cared for.

He physically abused me due to his hot temper. And he never cared that my child was there crying away in trauma seeing us fight.

So for all these reasons my heart’s doors started shutting down naturally and I started falling out of love with him.

But I’m still with him for the sake of my child and to save our marriage. So although these days he tries to get intimate with me, I still allow him but, deep down inside, I’m not happy doing anything with him.

I am still in love with that other “friend” of mine and can’t seem to be able to forget him. And I’m falling out of love with my husband.

I don’t know what’s right or wrong any more.

Confused and Heartbroken

You married a man who wasn’t that into you, and from there on, your relationship worsened. During the deterioration, you cheated and he was violent. You tried to talk it out but during this, you were not honest about your feelings or your past behaviour.

Look, marriages that go through rough patches can be repaired if they were founded on mutual love and trust. But yours was shaky to start with. Also, despite all this, there is still no honest and open communication. That is not good.

My immediate reaction is that when there is physical violence, you should exit immediately. I can’t tell if there was one violent episode some time ago or several. However, as there is a risk of a repeat, get to a safe space immediately.

When you are safe, understand your child has witnessed violence on several occasions. That is very traumatic. Get a professional to help with that ASAP.

As for your marriage, a time out will keep you safe while you both re-evaluate.

I strongly suggest that you start from scratch and figure out what you actually want from your life and marriage. Why did you marry a man who doesn’t particularly like you, and whom you say tortured you mentally?

Also, your husband needs to be very clear about his desires. If he is cold and doesn’t particularly like you, why did he marry you? Has he changed his mind or not really?

When both of you have put some thoughts into it, discuss if you two have a future or not. Do this in the presence of a neutral third party so that you’re both honest and safe.

If you decide to make a go of it, it won’t be easy. First, you need to learn to communicate honestly. Lies are not a basis for a healthy relationship.

As for your cheating, I note that in the letter you blame your husband for your behaviour. You know this is unacceptable: You are in charge of your actions.

You have to woman up, take responsibility for yourself, apologise sincerely and work to do better. That includes breaking off contact with the other party.

Your husband will need to accept responsibility for his violence, apologise and work to do better too. That will take a lot of work and I strongly suggest he sees a professional for this.

If you decide to divorce, then there is your child to consider. Normally, couples stay in contact because of the kids, and any separation should be handled with the primary concern being what is best for the child.

However, I’m a little puzzled by your reference to “my child” and not “our child”. If the child is yours and not his, then how you handle your separation depends on their relationship. If there is a bond between the two of them, and it’s a healthy one, that needs to be factored in. If the bond is not there, or a bad one, make it a clean break.

And if you separate, please talk to a therapist to figure out why you married and work to avoid repeating this mistake.

Marriage should be with a partner who adores you, who wants to spend decades by your side, building a life together. If you don’t have that going for you, don’t tie the knot.

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.  Email star2.thelma@thestar.com.my or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.


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