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 married for four years. My husband used to be a responsible, caring and loving spouse. Two years into the marriage, I realised that we have very different views and priorities in life.
He does not plan for our future. He spends money freely and has no savings whatsoever. When he cannot settle his credit card bills, he will look to me or his mum for help. He has no plans for our honeymoon which is long overdue.
He is selfish and does not help with house chores. He leads an unhealthy lifestyle; he smokes, drinks, and plays computer games late into the night.
What's worse, he always puts his friends first - he will cancel any weekend plans we have, to hang out with his friends. They take priority over me. He hates my family and friends.
I don't think this marriage is working out as he takes me for granted. When things do not go as planned, he will throw a tantrum.
When I quit my job, he threw a tantrum. I realised he is not someone I can depend on. When I get into any trouble, I'm on my own.
I hate it when he pokes fun at me or humiliates me in front of his family members. Although they do not take it seriously, it hurts me.
We have stopped celebrating my birthday or our wedding anniversary, but he expects a holiday from me on his birthday. The last straw came when he threw a tantrum in public. I felt very hurt and humiliated.
I feel so lonely and depressed when he is around. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep.
I cannot leave him as he works for my relative. My relative is terminally ill and I am worried that my decision to leave him may aggravate my relative's condition. I do not care what other people think of me, but I do not want to hurt the people who matter most to me. - Hopeful
You are married to a man who is seemingly a child in a very adult situation. He throws tantrums. He expects to be taken care of - you have to cook and clean for him, and also provide him with financial comfort and security. His own needs are far more important than yours. As a matter of fact, it is not even clear if he is aware of anyone's needs aside from his own.
As much as this is not your fault, it is unlikely that you have just realised after two years of marriage that the two of you have very different views and priorities in life. Perhaps now you are taking a serious look at your marriage.
There is a story about a frog that was placed in a pot with water and the pot was left to boil. The frog does not realise while it is sitting in the pot that the water temperature is slowly increasing. It does not even feel the pot becoming hotter. Only when the water comes to a boil does it realise something is wrong. Unfortunately for the frog, the realisation came too late. Like the frog in this story, you were sitting in a water bath where the temperature was slowly but surely heading towards boiling point. Now that it is simmering, you realised that something is amiss. But unlike the frog, it is not too late for you.
Perhaps it is time to ask yourself what will make you happy. There is nothing wrong in putting yourself first. You are the most important person to yourself. This is because if you are not well and safe, you cannot protect the ones around you whom you love.
The main issue with your husband is not the money or financial security. Neither is it about gender expectations in a relationship. Instead it is about the integral question of respect. Does your husband respect you as a person and his wife?
The answer is no. He humiliates you in public and in front of his family members. He cannot respect you enough to show reverence to your parents and family. He will not respect your time and effort as he won't even stick to his promises of spending time with you. He does not respect your need for love, affection and support.
Forget about him looking after you. It sounds like you are capable of looking after yourself. Can he even look after himself? He won't pay his bills, and expects you to bail him out of his debts.
Chances are that this is what he expects from a relationship. He wants to be looked after. And, for him, being looked after means no responsibility at all. This may all be well and good. But if this is his expectation of a relationship, will you accept it?
What do you expect from a relationship and marriage? Are your expectations compatible with what you have right now? What can you do to match reality with your expectations? Are you ready and willing to do this?
Your husband is working for your relative. Ask yourself this: why is he employed? Does your relative keep your husband as a member of his staff because he is married to you, or because of his skills and abilities?
If you think your relative will be affected by your decision, speak to this relative. Be honest. As you said, you don't care what people think. You have no need to protect your husband's reputation or honour in this situation.
Your personal life and happiness cannot be held ransom here. If need be, surely your relative will be able to find someone else to fill in the position.
You have options in front of you. In trying to figure out what is best, do not allow the expectations of others to blind your decision-making. They probably do not know what you are going through and will surely understand when you explain the situation to them.
There are always options and choices. The situation is rarely ever hopeless. Take a deep breath and step away from the situation for a while to realise this. In many cases, the barriers we are faced with are just the products of the fallacy of mind-reading. So stop assuming what will hurt those that matter to you the most. Be honest and talk about it. It will be easier to make the right decisions. - Thelma