Dear Thelma,

My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We both married pretty young and it has taken us until now to seriously discuss starting a family.

Prior to getting married, both of us agreed to have children. However, now that I am seriously trying for a family, my spouse tells me he does not want children. I am devastated because I feel that we are financially stable and ready to bring up children. My biological clock is ticking away and I yearn for the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the house.

To rub salt into the wound, I found out that my spouse has hooked up with an old flame. I saw inappropriate messages on his phone a month ago. When I confronted him, he said he could no longer love me exclusively and is enamoured with his old flame. He asked me to allow him the possibility of having a mistress. I wonder if his love for another woman is the reason he no longer wants to consider children with me.

I am lost. Both of us have very successful careers. I thought my marriage was solid. Even friends and family members remarked that we look like an ideal couple. I never thought this could happen to me.

I know in my heart that my spouse no longer loves me as much as he used to, because my affectionate gestures are met with coldness. He spends hours on his phone, running off to the bathroom to take calls. This other woman works in the same office and is single. My husband said he still loves me and does not want to lose me. He just can’t seem to choose between his old flame and me. He wants both of us.

I feel angry and betrayed. He is not interested in talking things over. Should I contact that other woman and tell her off? Should I tell my parents-in-law that our marriage is falling apart? Should I wait patiently for him to return to me? I have no idea how to solve this mess because I still want to save face. We run in pretty tight circles and I don’t want to air dirty laundry with our mutual friends.

Instead of celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, I wonder if I’d be mulling the possibility of a divorce. I gave my all to this marriage and I expect my spouse to reciprocate as well. I won’t budge on commitment and fidelity.

I am trying to keep a brave front but the strain is getting to me. I love my spouse so much and would lay the world at his feet but he doesn’t seem to want what I have to offer. I have found the love of my life but it looks like I have lost him to another. What should I do? – Lost

Dear Lost,

It’s difficult to say why your husband has had a change of heart about having children. It could be that he has changed over the years, so what he wants has also changed. This is not uncommon. It happens to many couples.

It could also be that your husband is trying to do away with the responsibility or the commitment that children will bring to a relationship. Perhaps it is this old flame of his that is back in the picture. Perhaps it is something more.

This is all merely speculation, of course. You may never know the reason for his change of heart. Yet, you must make some very important decisions for yourself.

So your husband wants a mistress. And he expects you to accept this. Again, this is not uncommon. There are women who have accepted the fact that their husbands have needs that cannot be fulfilled by the marriage. So they turn a blind eye to their husbands’ extramarital activities. This does not mean they are happy with the decision. Nor does it mean that it is an easy decision to make and live with.

The saying three is a crowd is not for nothing. A marriage with three people is crowded and very messy. It takes a lot of confidence and self-esteem – from the party who is not having the extramarital affair – to allow one’s spouse to be with someone else. It also requires a lot of confidence in the marriage. Do you think this is what you have?

If your husband expects you to compromise on his needs for a mistress, will he be happy to compromise on your need for children? It does seem unfair that you are expected to give in to what he wants, while he won’t budge with regard to your needs.

What would calling this old flame do for your marriage? It seems a futile act when the problem lies closer to home. Also, what good would it do to inform his parents? Do you think their involvement would change things? What is your motive there? Do you want to guilt-trip him into staying loyal to you? Or, do you think his parents can really influence his decision?

You should really take a step back and gauge your relationship for what it is. You say your husband does not react positively to you. What do you think that means?

It is hard to fight for a relationship when the other person seems to have opted out. Your husband loves you, surely, but is this relationship what he wants? How much of this relationship and what you want are you willing to compromise on or sacrifice? How much of it is more about saving face than actually wanting to be together?

It is not wrong for you to have these expectations of marriage. If this changes, is it because you think it is fair to do so, or is it because you are forced to do so? That makes a big difference.

Can you continue in this marriage and be happy? Do not overlook the question of happiness. Being unhappy can lead to a lot of complications which can affect your mental and physical health.

It is very difficult to live a lie. A lot of emotional energy is expended on maintaining an image for others, and it can be extremely draining. You will find the energy you have for other things – work, friends, yourself – dwindling, and this can be very damaging to your life.

Lastly, do you feel you and your needs are being respected in this marriage as it stands now? Do you think your husband is willing to see things from your perspective? If he wants you to accept his mistress, can he accept being cuckolded if you found a man to satisfy your needs? If not, why not?

If he does not want to talk about this now, there will never be a better time to talk about it. He is avoiding the real issue – the state of your marriage. Can you avoid it? If so, for how long?

You have tried your best. There is no shame in divorce. Yes, there will be questions. People may or may not judge you. But they are not the ones living your life. Make a decision for yourself and no one else. It may hurt at first, but it may turn out better in the long run. You are financially stable. If you married young, even after a 10-year marriage, you are probably still young and can build a new life for yourself. You can find someone with the same goals as you.

There is a chance that your husband may find the grass is not greener on the other side. Then you have to decide if what he wants for your future is what you want as well. There will be a lot of soul-searching. But that can’t be a bad thing. – Thelma

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help.

Write to: Dear Thelma, c/o Star2, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Or e-mail:

Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.