I have been married for four years, after knowing my husband for almost 10 years. He is six years older than me, and will be 40 this year. We broke up once as I couldn’t stand his debt issues, during the third or fourth year of our relationship. I went back to him as I thought he went into debt to fulfill my wants. He is a good man with a charming smile. Yet, hidden behind his good image is a man who has abused me many times, with words and beatings.
Before our marriage, I was living with my adoptive family. They didn’t like my social life, so they asked me to leave the house. I went out and mixed with friends that led me to start drinking. After some time I came back but my family chased me out for the second time. Then I met my husband. We were friends. I had no commitments in life, so I went with the flow.
We lived together for three years. A few years into our relationship, I got to know about my husband’s debt issues. Maybe I was too pushy back then as I wanted to rent a house and so on. In the end, he got into debt with loan sharks just to make me happy. I was so shocked and unable to answer to my in-laws as all the loan sharks went to their house.
I was fed up with all that and asked him to leave immediately. I thought I’d be happy but instead my world shut down. I was always thinking of his good side instead of his dark side. I couldn’t control my feelings and kept disturbing him at his workplace.
I kept going back to him. He whacked me, hurled all kinds of abusive words at me, and even beat me up on the road. Yet, I looked for him, maybe because I was raised like an orphan without love.
I tried to share this with my friends but they walked away from me and called me a psychopath.
My mother in-law has hated me from the beginning as I am of a different religion. I have led her son on a good path yet she can’t accept me.
The problem now is he wants a baby but he still hasn’t settled his debts.
I’m attached to a stable company and earn a good salary but am paying off my own debts, which should take another two years. Sometimes he says he will take care of everything so I should just prepare to get pregnant, but I think back of all his failed promises to settle my debts. Banks call me every day to settle my loans.I am thinking twice about having a baby and getting further into debt.
My in-laws are not supportive and my adoptive mother advised me not to rush into things.
When my husband starts on baby issues, I refuse to talk about it – and then the quarrel starts. He will start to raise his hands or throw tantrums at home. I feel so depressed. What should I do?
Let me ask you a question: If you heard of a woman who has a violent partner, would you suggest she bring a baby into the marriage? And if you heard of a woman who is deep in debt, and who has several more years to go before paying it off, would you suggest she add a baby to the burden?
I think the answer is clear: You are not in a position to care for a baby. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be, but at the moment, I think your adoptive mum is correct.
From your letter, you have a rocky past. Some people will focus on that when you talk to them. However, what I see is a superb foundation for positive change.
You are honest about your mistakes and you take accountability for them. Even more importantly, you have already started changing your life. You have a steady job and a plan for paying off your debts.
From this, I would say to you that you are doing good work. All you have to do is stick with it. It may also help to get a bit more solid advice, just to keep you on track.
First, you can make changes for yourself, but you can’t make changes for your husband. He needs to get his own help. He should consult a professional to help him manage his violence and anger. He might also talk to them about why he wants a baby and how being a father will affect his life. Also, he needs practical help managing his debt.
You will benefit from talking to a mental health professional about your depression.
Also, as you were raised as an orphan and describe a childhood and early adult life that had arguments, violence and other issues, you might see how all those experiences have shaped the person you are today.
Quite often, children who feel unloved and rejected grow up with issues such as anxiety and low self-esteem that then complicate their adult relationships.
Talking it out with a professional and making some small changes can have big effects for happiness.
Also, I notice your husband wants a baby but you don’t seem enthusiastic. Reading between the lines, I have the feeling you may think you owe it to him? Or that it’s a gift of some kind? As babies are a massive responsibility, do add that conversation to your To Do list so you get good perspective on the issue.
As you two have debts, I strongly suggest you look to free services.
Start with the AKPK’s Debt Management Programme, Bank Negara’s community help centre, at akpk.org.my or phone 03-2616 7766. They have offices all over the country, so you won’t need to go far.
Take all your paperwork with you, including credit card and bank statements and loan agreements. The staff will advise you on the best way to manage and as they are professional, they might be able to make it easier for you.
As the mental health work will be quite intensive, look for a person with at least a Masters Degree in psychology, counselling or social work. I suggest you call Talian Nur at 15999 to ask for a referral, or to contact your local council to see if they have a service.
Some universities also offer free sessions, so if you have one near you, see if they have a psychology programme. If they do, call the department and ask if they offer free or heavily subsidised community counselling.
Finally, the NGOs are not holding sessions because of the pandemic but they will hopefully start again soon. Start with All Women’s Action Malaysia (AWAM) awam.org.my and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) wao.org.my.
Most of all, believe in yourself. You’ve made some excellent change already, and you will continue to do well if you hang in there.
Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11,46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name, 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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