updated 20 Jan 2010, 15:14
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Mon, Jan 11, 2010
The Star/Asia News Network
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He makes love to me only as duty to his spouse

FOR 17 years of my marriage, I thought I had the perfect husband who was also a caring father to our three daughters. Two years ago, I found out from my girls about his affair with another woman. I didn’t believe it until someone showed me an intimate photo of them.

When I confronted him, he denied it, then admitted they were merely good friends who shared many things in common and enjoyed each other’s company. He said there was no intimate relationship because she is also married. He asked for time to sort things out and promised he would not see her again.

I was in pain but chose to forgive him as I believed there was no sex involved. I slowly rebuilt my trust in him and we shared our unspoken feelings for each other. I thought our relationship would be stronger after the storm – I could feel we were more considerate towards each other. We hardly fought.

Last year, I found out they were still in touch with each other. I was depressed and disgusted with his putting up a front. I moved into our spare room and expected him to apologise for all the agony he had caused me. But till today, he has never once asked me to go back to him. We still make love once or twice a month, but it’s more like he’s fulfilling his duty to his wife.

He’s like a stranger to me – I don’t know what’s on his mind, what he wants or how he really feels? We carry on as if nothing has happened and are polite to each other, like a loving couple. Occasionally, he says he loves me and will never leave me and our girls, yet he continues to betray me.

I tried to forget the whole stupid affair. I put aside my pride and tried to get back together by talking and writing to him about how I felt. I also hinted that he should ask me to return to our bedroom as I was too proud to just move back, and raised the possibility of divorce if he still could not forget that woman.

But he did nothing in response to all that. He no longer denies having an intimate relationship or try to explain anything.

What am I supposed to conclude from his silence? Can I believe they are merely friends? I can be very generous about sharing many things but when it comes to my marriage, I won’t share my husband with another woman.

I’m an independent professional working woman in my mid-40s. I used to think very highly of myself. People find me attractive. But because of this affair, I seem to have lost my confidence. I’ve become sceptical and bitter and cannot concentrate at work. I even hate myself.

I don’t think I can carry on pretending to live like a happily married woman. I have nobody to speak to or share my feelings with because I don’t want to tarnish his good image.

No Way Out

YOU do not really want a divorce but you feel you are truly losing your husband now. He is no longer as warm and passionate as before. Sex is perfunctory and you find him distant, You want to move back to your bedroom and hold him close but pride is a barrier.

Your husband’s silence seems a dangerous impasse in your relationship. Perhaps he is tired of the pressure of your accusations, suspicions and distrust. Perhaps he is thinking of divorce, too, as he finds himself at a crossroads he is afraid to confront. Does he love her too much to let her go? Or is he waiting for your anger to abate before he seeks reconciliation?

There are many unanswered questions. You need to break his silence, or confide in a close friend or relative. Hiding your pain and humiliation can become too much to bear. Why worry about his image when he never tried to heal your breaking heart?

Right now, you need to rebuild esteem and confidence so that you do not feel like a failure. Concentrate on your job, dress well and look good. Draw strength from your children. If you allow the marriage to affect the home environment, your girls will suffer from the ugliness of the situation. They should not be drawn into the silent tussle or be forced to take sides.

Do not take on the blame for his affair. You think you are at fault but juggling career and family is always a challenge that should be shared by husband and wife. If he was unhappy, he should have talked to you instead of seeking solace and sex with another woman.

Consult a lawyer and seek legal advice. Draw up a course of action so that you are prepared for divorce. Your man will not want to do anything if he had a choice. He is hoping he can be absolved of blame. He seems a coward when it comes to the crux as he probably dreads confrontation and change. Hopefully, the real threat of divorce will shake him out of his shell.

However, you still love him and care about him. You need closure. So throw the last pitch. Move back into your room. Show him how much he has to lose if he does not fight for love with you. Make him forget about the other woman by taking up his time and his mind. Do not be embarrassed or bashful about wanting him or loving him.

But if he continues to be withdrawn and distant physically and emotionally, then you know the marriage is truly over. Move on with your career and your life. You have tried your best and it is his loss, not yours.

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