Dear Thelma

I’m 37 years old and have been married for 10 years. My husband is many years older than me. We have an eight-year-old daughter.

When I met my husband, I knew that he was active on online dating sites and was chatting with numerous girls. But he promised he would stop once we got married. I was OK with that.

But one year into our marriage, I realised he was even more actively chatting with girls and sharing pictures. When I found out and confronted him about it, he said he was just chatting and not meeting these women personally, so why was I making a big fuss. I told him I would not tolerate that, and he again promised to stop.

All was well until recently, when I found out he has been at it again. Now, he is telling these women that he has a baby girl whom he loves very much but that he is separated from his wife. I also found out that he has been visiting what I think are weird porn sites.

I have given up hope that he will ever stop and I can’t take it any longer. I know for some people, it might seem like a harmless thing. They may ask why I am overreacting. But the way he writes to this one woman online and how he is sometimes so cold towards me at home makes me wonder if the only reason he is sticking with me is just for the sake of being married and for someone to take care of him and the house.

We hardly talk anymore and he says he is always busy. I just don’t know who else to talk to about this.

Please Thelma, help me. Am I really overreacting? – Hema


husband online dating

Dear Hema

The man you married is telling people you’re out of the picture and he has the barefaced cheek to lie about it. Are you overreacting? Absolutely not!

It’s my opinion that couples should have lots of friends. Chatting about life, the universe and everything is good for the soul. Also, in a marriage you simply can’t be all things to each other. Therefore, I don’t see anything wrong with friendships.

However, there is a massive difference between a close platonic friendship and an emotional affair. Friendships are open, honest and totally non-sexual; emotional affairs are based on sexual chemistry and a desire that is not acted on.

Just because there is no physical contact doesn’t mean it isn’t cheating. Often, people who are in an emotional affair will: a) hide it from everyone; and b) say nasty things about their true partners. This is why such clandestine associations drain love and energy from the proper marriage and that’s why they’re so nasty.

As you have found concrete proof that your husband is telling the world he is available when he’s not, he is having emotional affairs. In my book, this is well over the line.

The question is, what do you want to do about it? The way I see it, you have three choices.

First, do absolutely nothing. I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea as you are so miserable but it is a choice you have. If you do nothing, nothing changes.

Second, get a divorce. A divorce means you can start again and find someone you can be happy with. However, as you have a little girl, you can’t just think for yourself, but you must also think of her.

When a marriage doesn’t work out, many men are decent about their responsibilities but there are just as many who are deadbeat and downright nasty. So if you want to go this route, please consult a divorce lawyer before you do anything else. Know exactly where you stand and safeguard yourself and your daughter.

Third, you try and repair the marriage. Look, slips happen. It’s awful when you discover your partner has cheated. However, if there is a strong foundation, couples often patch up their relationship and move on.

To be honest, from what you’ve said, I think you may be beyond this. That coldness you speak of, and that fear that you’re just a housekeeper in the background, gives me the chills. Also, he’s made promises in the past and broken them. Not once, but several times. None of this augurs well.

If you’re not sure what you want, I think you should very quietly go and talk to a therapist or counsellor. Talk it through thoroughly, and when you are certain what you want, take action.

Now, should you decide to try and work on your marriage, then you need to address that weird porn you found him looking at.

It may be that he looked once or twice and went, “Eeeeeeew! Really? People do that?” in which case it’s all good. But if he’s very much into a particular kink, and he’s hidden this from you, then that is something you will have to tackle as you rebuild and reform your relationship.

We live in a conservative society that makes discussion about any kind of sex a challenge. However, in a healthy loving relationship, people talk about their needs and go as far as their personal limits allow them. Sometimes couples perceive the new bedroom moves as great fun. Other times couples discover that a fantasy doesn’t play out too well in real life.

As long as everyone is on the same page, it’s all good. The problem comes from one person needing or wanting it, and the other finding it to be beyond their personal limit. If this happens to you, it could be a serious issue. It doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker, but it will need some special handling. In that case, I’d suggest talking to an intimacy expert.

My dear, I hope this helps. Please know that I’ll be thinking about you and do write again if you need to.


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