What you need to know:
- Remember, people are not who they seem to be. Always seek full disclosure before you commit.
- Since making relationships work is hard work, healthier relationships will result only from a heart that makes diligent efforts.
I am 30 years old and married to a strange woman. We have two daughters, one of whom is my biological child; she already had the other child when we met. I have learnt about my wife’s secret past. First, while married to the presumed father of her child, she walked out of the marriage because she got pregnant by the biological father. She was thrown out by both men.
I met her, we dated, and she became pregnant with my daughter. In the last two-and-a-half years, she has disappeared from home twice, only to resurface with implausible explanations. Most of the time she has an excuse why we can’t get intimate. She has also become short-tempered and erratic.
I have tried to create time so that we can talk but she always finds an excuse to be busy. Nowadays we don’t talk but communicate via text messages. She leaves whenever she wants. I feel wasted and need my life back. Given all that I now know about her now, I don’t think I want her in my life. I cannot say I know her.
Even though I am not the biological father of one of our two lovely girls, I feel bad that their mother is not living straight. These girls need parents. Why do they have to pay the price for a careless and selfish mother who is not ready to commit to a steady relationship? Whom is she going to cheat on next? She left without a word for four days and just resurfaced as if nothing had happened.
It is not clear whether the two of you are married or live together whenever it is convenient. Whatever the case, there is a problem that stretches from the time you met her to the present and the issues you face. The fact that you don’t talk, that she leaves and comes whenever she feels like and the lack of clear leadership are among the issues that are stifling your relationship. Who between the two of you needs a “total makeover?”
Most times we are tempted to think that if we can change our partner’s responses towards us and even change the way they relate to us, we would be happier and more fulfilled. But is it that simple? How about if we changed our actions and reactions towards our partner? How would that affect the relationship?
Although many issues remain unclear from your write-up, let me thank you for empathising with the children. However, do yourself a favour and remain true to yourself if you are to get what you are hoping for in the relationship.
Although one of these girls is not yours, she deserves better from both of you. I don’t think leaving them because you are fed up will help much. You need to deal with the causes of your inner frustrations and pain. Also, deal with your defeatist attitude which makes you feel helpless. The right focus and attitude can do a lot for you. This inner desperation you feel can hurt you more than the separation itself.
I will not go into your wife’s past. I don’t know much about her, apart from the little you have shared. However, there are three issues that stand out. First, when you met her, she had a child. That must have told you that she had a history. This was followed by her disappearances, which should have alerted you to find out whether there were issues that needed to be resolved.
However, your future actions towards her should be informed by what you now know. Remember, people are not who they seem to be. Always seek full disclosure before you commit. As English humourist E.V. Lucas said, “The truth is the only thing worth having, and in a civilised life like ours where so many risks are removed, facing it is almost the only courageous thing left to do.
Does our lack of investigation mean that we don’t have the right to our privacy, regardless of its impact on us?
TIPS FOR FUTURE ACTIONS
Second, intelligent investigation should bring you to a place where you can say say yes or no – based on the understanding you have now. Someone once told me that marriage was designed in heaven but those who enter the union must realise that they are two imperfect beings called to live together on this imperfect earth. This is where many get it wrong.
We, imperfect people, get married to other imperfect people hoping to live together in a perfect marriage. So we must learn to grow as we help our partner to grow. At the point you two have reached, there seems to be too much baggage that needs to be dealt with to achieve healing and restoration.
Thirdly, consider the price or the sacrifice for restoration. I see a man with a wounded ego and heart. You have a feeling that this woman lied to you, and not just once or twice, and maybe she did. But more importantly, you are torn about the future of the kids you adore. If you want the kids alone, will she agree?
Will the courts see your point of view? You have to consider the price you are willing to pay. Since making relationships work is hard work, healthier relationships will result only from a heart that makes diligent efforts.
I believe you need to hone your conflict-management skills. This is particularly important because no two people are alike. Acknowledging what you see going wrong is just a small part of the problem. Learning to speak to each other truthfully and with love requires open and sincere dialogue.
Former US president Thomas Jefferson once said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”. Living a life of lies is nothing but cultivating a cancerous tumour that will later cause trauma and pain.
My worry is not whether you have intimate moments (although they are important) but rather, the realisation that relationships, whether sexual or otherwise, are nourished through truthful interactions. You need to bring the truth to the fore with firmness and love.
WHAT TO FACTOR IN
Ask yourself whether what you have found out about what is ailing your relationship is worth dying for.
As you think through your relationship, you should consider the following questions:
1. What initially led me into this relationship?
2.Is this relationship worth fighting for and if yes, why?
3.Does this relationship bring out the best in both of us?
4.Why do I feel more upset than excited when I am with my partner?
5.Why do I feel that my partner has hardened to change?
6.Have I looked for the best help I can find and used it?
7.What would it take to get back together and is it a good or a bad idea?
8.What is the best and worst case scenario?
9.What would happen if I moved on?
10.Why does she feel she has the right to walk in and out of our relationship?
I could be wrong, but I see a woman who is looking for attention elsewhere, with a man who has not taken a stand. With time, this will make you feel as if your trust has been broken.
If what you said about her past actions are anything to go by, when you add her constant disappearances, it should raise a red flag. If your partner has a habit of lying to you, would you be able to develop trust in her again?
REIGNITING DYING LOVE
All relationships have their ups and downs, some of which can lead to a troubled marriage and, consequently, to dying love. In some cases, breakups occur. But how can we avoid this? Here are some tips:
Evaluate: First, we must pay attention to what is happening in a relationship. What are the signs? What vibes are you feeling? Involving some level of evaluation and reasoning through the results will reveal a lot to a couple in a relationship.
Set time aside, ask hard questions, evaluate the answers and check for consistency. Where things don’t add up, ask further questions and seek where the problems lie.
Prescribe: Second, provide a remedy as soon as you detect signs of a downward trend. I believe that if you can see the signs, you have half solved the problem – you can prevent imminent disaster.
The trouble with many of us is ignorance, or the feeling that things will correct themselves. Meanwhile, some believe that if they can see a problem, their partner must also be seeing it and should, therefore, do something about it. Ignorance or making assumptions only hurt a relationship.
So don’t get sloppy, read the signs and start your engines of recovery. You cannot treat what you don’t know.
Selflessness: Seeing and treating your partner as more important than you is an action that can rekindle dying love. Lack of diligence can kill a vibrant relationship. Focus, effort and personalised care are essential ingredients for a growing love life. Even in the midst of trouble, assurances of love and affirmation of a partner’s place in the relationship assures them that all is well.
British novelist CS Lewis summarises it thus: “Love is not affectionate feeling but a steady wish for the loved person‘s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."
Prioritisation: Does your partner feel like they are a priority? Do they feel valued and important? Value is the kind of care we give to something. If we value our bodies, we care for them, we prioritise care for them. Love cares, shows kindness, supports, encourages and perseveres.
Expectations: Unmet expectations can cause anxiety in a relationship. If your partner’s expectations are high, the stakes go up. How you handle this becomes key. It is, therefore, important to identify what is important to your partner.
Don’t waste time on things that will do not add value or increase intimacy. When these priority areas are left unattended, they create anxiety and place the relationship in an awkward position.