"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I have been with my husband for 10 years now. In the early days when we were dating, all was well and good. We had so much fun.
The relationship slowly turned into a nightmare. He never held a job, while I worked 72 hours a week.
At one point, we did not even have a place to stay because I could not afford to pay for everything, rental included. But I was lonely, so I stood by him. He was sweet and made me feel like a queen. He was smart and always had an excuse for not working.
Then we got married. For the first four years, he worked 4-5 hours a day. At least once a month, he would come up with an excuse for skipping work.
We are living with my parents now because my husband could not make enough money for us to have a place of our own. Now he works normal hours but he is unable to save any money. Every month he would overspend and ask me to pay his bills. He is perpetually in debt. He does not plan for tomorrow, and spends whatever money he has.
He hasn't held a driver's licence for 10 years because he got a DUI conviction and didn't settle the fees to get his licence back.
He does not lift a finger to help around the house. If the sink clogs, the Internet is down or if my car needs maintenance, he will not bother. I have to handle everything on my own.
I don't feel any attraction for him anymore. He is sweet and loving most of the time but that irritates me more than it makes me feel wanted.
I have never felt that he could take care of me. I am the one responsible for keeping everything under control. I am independent, but I wish my man could take care of me if I needed him.
Lately, he has been trying to be more responsible, but I don't love him the way I once did. He tells me that he loves me and that he wants to change for my sake. I try to be nice, but not a week passes by without us getting into a big fight. During these fights, I will say hurtful things to him. After the fight, we will pretend everything is fine, until the next fight.
I wish I could find a man who could be a real partner to me.
My husband has disappointed me so many times that I have no love left for him. There are times when I think things could change and he could be the partner I want him to be.
Do you think he can change from being a useless husband to a provider? Do you think this marriage can be saved? - Disappointed Wife
Dear Disappointed Wife,
For many people, the promise of budding romance is rarely fulfilled during marriage. Romance and marriage are not necessarily two opposite ends of a pole. However, the realities of life together - the everyday tasks - test romance in a relationship.
It is the everyday things that are essential for life to go on - going to work, getting paid, paying bills, putting money aside, and building a life together.
It can seem dreary and boring for some. The responsibility that is required to do all these things just kills any sense of fun in life. That is the perspective of some people. They refuse to accept the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
While marriage itself is not necessarily a symbol of adulthood, it is an important rite of passage. It is one that symbolises that the childish needs of "I" have to sometimes take a back seat to the more essential needs of "us", or even someone else. Many people struggle with this. And perhaps your husband is one of them.
Why should he bother with things like clogged sinks or faulty Internet connections when he knows there is someone to look into it? Why should he worry about bills when he knows you will settle them?
While you are doing what is necessary for your life together, your reliability enables him to continue behaving the way he does. As long as you are there to make sure things run smoothly, he is not going to have to step up.
Having said this, it is completely acceptable for a woman to be taking care of these things. In many relationships, women take the back seat while their husbands do everything. Yet, there is still some level of compromise. The women may make sure their duties in the home - cleaning and cooking, among others - are done while their husbands take care of all the other things.
You are not concerned so much about the gender roles being reversed in your relationship. Instead, you want to know that you will be supported. You want assurance that if you are unable to do something, you will be able to rely on your life partner for help. Unfortunately, you are unable to have that assurance at present.
You say that you loved him before. What do you love about him now? While he may not be able to give you the kind of financial security you want, is there anything else that he is able to provide for you? Is he still able to make you feel special? Does he take away that feeling of loneliness?
If you think he can change, what evidence is there to support this? What does he do to help out? If there is an emergency, will he be able to step up for you?
Thinking about these things may help you come to a decision about your future together. Just know, however, that if you want him to be more responsible, it will not happen as long as you keep filling in for him.
Would you be willing to separate from him for a while? Being alone, he may have to take more initiative to help himself. He will know the consequences when he has no one to rely on but himself.
It may be necessary for you to change your expectations of him. Accept him for who he is - warts and all - and know that this is all he can be. Can you accept that?
However, if you feel that you are at breaking point and are ready to call it quits, you have to do what you have to do. It is not helping you or him if you carry on in a relationship that is making you so miserable. While you may be providing for him, you are really not helping him.
Love is a many splendored thing, indeed. Yet, it takes a lot for love to survive the daily responsibilities that our roles bring about in a marriage. It takes effort from both parties to make a relationship work. It is not something that can be done alone.
If you really think that this is your task, and yours alone, then it is time to evaluate your relationship with your husband. If you think that there is still reason to save your marriage, then it is your expectations of your husband that will have to change.
You have power only over yourself and not others. You cannot change other people; you can only change your expectations of them. - Thelma