updated 29 Mar 2012, 20:36
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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network
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Violence of another kind


MY husband and I met as penpals 28 years ago and courted for eight years before we married. Slowly, he started showing his selfishness.

Whenever we quarrelled, he would walk far ahead of me, leaving me crying behind. He even used foul language on me.

After our marriage, I began to earn more than him; I'm not sure if this has made him insecure and introverted.

But he is a responsible family man. He does the marketing and cooking during the weekends, took us for holidays and financed my daughter's education abroad.

However, his selfish behaviour and lack of respect for me and my loved ones have made things intolerable for me.

He faults me for giving my parents money and helping my siblings. I even had to ask him to send me to the hospital for an operation.

My husband comes from a broken home and isn't close to any of his eight siblings, who would rather talk to me about family matters.

He has few personal friends but argues that they have "value" to him, unlike my many friends, who "make use" of me.

He calls me "stupid" over trivial matters, in front of my children. When my late father was slow in his reflexes, due to sickness, he referred to him as "kayu".

I've contributed to the household expenses, spent time coaching my children (now aged 20 and 16) in their studies and taken care of the chores.

I don't buy expensive clothes or makeup. Still, he thinks I've been too generous to people outside the family.

He cut off ties with my parents and siblings for no valid reason. He also said he'd love to see who would help me should I face difficulties. At mid-life, it was scary hearing him say this.

When I was in my twenties, I contemplated calling off the marriage, but was afraid of being a divorcee. I cried and hung on because I love my family. I even consulted a psychiatrist and an NGO for counselling.

Six years ago, my husband told me he faced impotency, but refused to see a doctor. He says we only die once, so why bother?

Nine years ago, I found out that he was in a relationship with a colleague whose boyfriend had just left her. They exchanged intimate SMS-es.

But I was calm as they both assured me they would stop the relationship.

Now, I've found out they're still together. He had lied that she'd left their company. I feel heartbroken because I trusted my husband completely.

When I confronted him, he said they are just very good friends and that I must not expect him to discontinue their "friendship".

He added said that since I don't trust him anymore, we are headed for divorce. When I tried to persuade him to go for marriage counselling, he used the four-letter word on me.

I told myself, this is enough! I deserve a much happier life and inner peace.

In deep emotional suffering

YOUR husband has never beaten you, but you have been subject to domestic violence for a long time.

This is called emotional and psychological violence.

Calling you names and not showing you respect in front of the children, and his manipulative behaviour in controlling who you spend your time with and how you spend your money are all part of that kind of violence.

It is just as damaging as any form of physical violence.

On top of this, he dismisses your needs in the marriage by not seeking help for his impotence.

A sexual relationship is not just about pleasure; it's also an important aspect of intimacy.

He also pursued a relationship with another woman and lied to you about it.

You say you have sacrificed a lot in your marriage. The truth is that you're not being respected in this marriage, and your needs are being ignored.

With this knowledge you now have, you need to decide where you want to take this relationship.

You have mentioned marriage counselling - it would be good for both of you if you can get your husband to go. You would also probably do well to pursue therapy for yourself.

Giving your marriage a chance means that both of you will need to make some changes. You may also want to speak to a counsellor or an NGO about your options.

While it seems daunting to think of life alone after all this, you probably will be able to find the strength to get through it.

Sometimes, the fear of change holds us back from making decisions in our lives.

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