Dear Thelma: Husband is seeing a sex worker while hanging on to our marriage


  • Living
  • Sunday, 15 Dec 2019

Recently, I found out my husband is cheating on me. I don’t know how long the affair has been going on.

She lives in Bangkok. Just this July, he went to Bangkok on a company trip and contacted her for paid sex. That was his second time in Bangkok.

My relationship with my husband had been cordial before that. We don’t have anything we won’t talk about. Occasionally, I would nag at him for not helping out with chores.

I confronted him about the affair. He denied it. The text messages he exchanged with her wasn’t risqué, from what I saw. It was more like missing each other, enjoying the time they had in Bangkok and hoping that she was by his side.

When he knew I had access to his handphone, he changed his password. I asked him to have a clean cut with this girl. He didn’t say whether he would or would not do so. His response was more like “Yes, noted”, an equivocal response.

I asked him whether he wanted our marriage to work, he said yes. But he didn’t explicitly express how he wants to save our marriage. He doesn’t even bother to mend the broken chain.

Just today, I found out that he still contacts the girl via WeChat; most of his friends and colleagues use WhatApp. He got so secretive when I entered the room. I don’t know what they chatted about.

I don’t know if I should fight for this marriage. We are childless and I am 40. Should I file for divorce? Should I just pretend nothing happened and hope that things will go back to normal since it’s a long-distance relationship? Or should I just work on myself and hope that he will see the change in me and be attracted to me again?

They did meet when she was in Malaysia. If there’s nothing between them, why was he acting so secretively? Does he feel that he needs to keep a secret from me even though, according to him, there’s nothing between them? Maybe life for him is so boring that he’s looking for some excitement. Or maybe he enjoys being adored by another woman.

I’m tired. I just want a solution and an end to this. Putting myself in his shoes, I can understand why he strays. After all, men look for thrills and excitement. What I don’t understand is why he still contacts the woman, knowing very well that we’re still working on our marriage and on building trust. He now shows little concern when I try to share things I have at work.

I was planning to have a trip this month to rekindle the missing spark but the way he acts makes me rethink my plan.

Hopeless

I’m so sorry this is happening to you. The answer is never clear-cut because it depends on various variables.

In this case, we know your husband is having sex with prostitutes. He lied about it from the start and continues to lie about it. His actions show he cannot be trusted to be honest or to stop hiring sex workers.

I don’t think the “why” matters very much. When a decent, responsible adult feels a relationship isn’t working, they say so and either work to fix it or exit. Your husband’s actions show he is neither decent nor responsible. Unfortunately, his behaviour suggests he is lazy, selfish, pleasure-seeking, duplicitous and callous.

However, it’s clear that you still have some love for him. You ask if it’s worth trying to rekindle the marriage. It is fully possible to fix a marriage if one partner strays, but the adulterer has to be remorseful and work not to repeat the behaviour. Your husband is doing neither. Therefore, I do not see much hope.

If you stay with him, I believe there will always be another woman. I say this because he pays for sex. That means he’s not having relationships; the women are in it for the money. Therefore, there will always be a woman and her pimp looking to maintain their revenue stream.

Also, as he consorts with prostitutes, there is also the risk of blackmail, extortion, financial scams, illegal money-lending and other issues that are part and parcel of mixing with the criminal world. As his wife, you may find yourself drawn into these issues, should they crop up.

Usually, I recommend good communication and honesty as the method to get back to good foundations in a relationship. But in this case, I think it’s better to protect yourself first.

Your first step has to be a medical one. As sex workers are typically pressured to have unprotected sex, disease is a serious concern. Please go and see your family doctor and arrange for a proper health check that includes a full sexually transmitted disease testing kit.

You do not say if you’ve been having sex recently but I’m concerned that this woman may simply be the latest of a long line of sex workers. As some STDs have few visible symptoms at first, the initial concern is to make sure you’re physically okay.

Next, talk to a lawyer to find out where you stand. You need to ask about your current property and income as well as what happens to EPF, life insurance, pension plans and so on. I say this because you’re 40 and at that stage married couples usually have shared retirement savings and plans.

Also, see your bank and make absolutely sure that your personal money is safe and ringfenced from your husband. As he’s paying for sex and those people typically look to wring every sen out of their prey, you don’t want to find yourself in money trouble.

When you know your options, see a mental health professional and figure out your needs. I know it sounds funny that I’d put this last.

However, you have more routes than divorce or try and fix it. For example, you can live separately and not divorce or you can share a house and have a limited shared social life.

Please don’t make hasty decisions. You’ve had a shock and that means you’re not thinking clearly. Take it step by step. If you feel you want to try and fix it, do so, but make sure you stay protected. If you feel you want to leave, make sure your exit doesn’t harm you. For example, you may share the house but not the bedroom for six months while you untangle your finances and figure out your next step.

Whatever happens, be certain this is not your fault. Your husband knows he should have done the proper thing and either talk or leave but he chose to cheat. That’s his shame, not yours. So hold your head high and go get the support you need.


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