[Two Pronged] Should I stay with my cheating husband?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Dear Mr. Baer and Dr. Holmes,
I am 38 years old, a lawyer and married to a lawyer also.
I have had many boyfriends and reciprocal female crushes, but it is only with my husband that I had premarital sex (on our third year as bf-gf).
We were classmates since senior college and through law school. He is not that attractive compared to my previous boyfriends, or even my two girl crushes.
On our 5th year, he had a relationship with another woman – the only one that I know of. He's really funny and intelligent and he can have any girl if he wants. I would not be surprised if there were other flings. I tried to date other guys but I only want him. Having been raised by strict parents, it has been ingrained to my mind that I should marry the man who had first dibs on my hymen (hahaha that was stupid of me, really). After 10 years on and off as boyfriend-girlfriend, we got married. We share an 8 year old son who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Even before our son's diagnosis, I noticed that he had become distant. He's always holding his phone. Always out for a gimik. I was never the confrontational type. You can say that I prefer to suffer in silence. One time, I really got curious and opened his phone (the first and the last time). My suspicions were confirmed. He was seeing another girl. I told him about it but he casually denied it. I never checked his phone ever again. I also stopped asking him where he is going on a Saturday night or why he comes home early in the morning. We haven't had sex in the past two years. Before that, sex was intermittent (once in three months being the most frequent).
I was passive and just went through the routine. Go to work, take care of the kid when I get home, drive the kid to therapy on Saturdays. It is wonderful that my mom lives nearby. She takes care of the kid and brings him to school and therapy sessions on weekdays with a driver and an assistant. She's also my confidante and knows the status of our marriage. Aside from her, my psychiatrist (I was diagnosed with clinical depression last year) is the other person who knows the status of my relationship with my husband.
I told my mom and my psychiatrist that my husband has no plans of leaving us. I, myself, don't want to break up right now. Our reasons range from implicitly agreeing to co-parent our child to we don't want to split up our property relations. Let's put it this way: neither he or I want to talk about money matters except in cases like capital expenditures or providing for our child's needs.
Truth be told, I have cravings for "kilig" and/or to establish a meaningful relationship. The romance and kilig are absent between me and my husband. I told my psychiatrist about this and she supports this realization. This has proven a challenge for me because I rarely go out and I am quite aloof even if I am out with friends.
Is my current set-up with my husband healthy? Although we are really good friends and much respect is very much present, is it still fair to keep this relationship?
Thank you for your email.
You are not the first to have experimented with same sex relationships in high school and college. You are not the first to believe that you should marry the man who took your virginity or to have thought/hoped that premarital infidelity would turn into marital fidelity once the vows were spoken. And you are not the first to find that a child with autism has not helped your marriage, either.
You ask if your relationship with your husband is healthy and fair. Well, you and your husband seem to enjoy absolutely none of the emotional and physical connections that marriage offers and are merely friends engaged in co-parenting and financial management of your assets so it is probably fair to say that your marriage exists only on paper.
However, by your own account, co-parenting and not disturbing your property interests suits you both but the lack of any romantic or physical relationship does not suit you, though he apparently takes his pleasures elsewhere. The answer therefore is that the relationship meets some but not all of your needs - and all of his.
What should you do with your life? If your desire for romance and kilig are not being met within your marriage, then you need to decide whether to look elsewhere while still married (like your husband) or if this is not feasible then you need to weigh the pros and cons of separation. As for the target of your future affections, perhaps it’s time to establish whether your crushes for women can develop into something more significant.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter.
You asked the question: is my relationship healthy and fair?
My tentative answer is: At this particular point in space and time and for your particular situation, many would feel it is as fair as can be, given your current circumstances. That includes the fact that both of you are prepared to live under very non-marital conditions because you seem to have convinced yourself that this is the best way to go (at least for the moment).
You were diagnosed with clinical depression last year. If your depression is not something that was a part of you before you married (or had a relationship with) your husband - something like dysthymia, for example - perhaps I would not try as hard to look for a causal effect between the two things.
However, if there is any iota of doubt, if there is a possibility that your depression and your marriage are linked, I suggest you re-think your non-verbal arrangement with your husband about how to carry on in terms of your relationship.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” but is it really? It may be true for many situations - a date for the big party on New Year’s Eve, for example - but as a basic tenet to live by day by day, year in, year out? Frankly, I cannot think of anything more soul destroying than that.
But this is me, the shoot-from-the-hip columnist (who wishes she sometimes did not), and definitely not someone who knows all you’re going through. Thus, the most therapeutic thing I can suggest is to please explore the possible repercussions of your marital choices with your psychiatrist. I cannot help feeling you depression is strongly linked to your marital situation. Or, perhaps more accurately, the choices you made about your marriage which, happily, you have every right to change.
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