"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
Three months ago, I found out my wife travelled overseas with a man, supposedly on business, but they spent a night together in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, she did communicate with me regarding her whereabouts but they were all lies.
We have been together for 10 years, married for six years, and have two kids together, ages five and two. I constantly travel for work and am seldom at home as my line of work requires me to entertain clients and visit places for new business.
I'm 40 and my wife is 33. The man she was seeing is 52. He is married with two kids - one just got married and another is in university.
My wife works in the corporate world while I work in my family business in the mornings and also have some side business which I take care of in the evenings and some weekends.
I do not have time for an affair. I just concentrate on building a comfortable life for my family.
We live with my parents. The household expenses, maids' salaries and her car, petrol, mobile phone, etc, are all paid by me. We go for holidays overseas every year, which are often very costly.
After some detective work, I found out they have been together for six months and have met up in hotel rooms for three months, at least.
They chat every day through social messaging but she insists they've only met up two or three times a month.
He has showered her with expensive gifts and given her a lot of money to start a company/new life. But they do not plan to divorce their spouses and get together.
She told me that she fell for him because he cares a lot about her and showers her with attention (I believe through messaging or calls), like asking if she has eaten or is stressed at work. I believe I do that too, just not on a daily basis.
After I found out, she told me she had cut ties with him. I even met the man. He claims not to know of my existence but she claims he does. Both of them could be lying.
I am contemplating divorce as I can no longer trust her, but she says the infidelity is because I am not around her and I do not care about her or have time for her. I do inform her where I go and who I'm meeting but she suspects I have someone outside. I think it's an excuse to make her feel better. After all, when I head out, I do not dress up or use cologne or take care of my grooming.
She told me that if I were to divorce her, he would be her backup plan, meaning she would be his mistress.
I do not wish for my children to grow up in a broken family, but does that mean I will need to put up with her infidelity?
I am lost and unable to sleep at night. It has been three months since I found out about the affair and it's taking its toll on me.
Hope you can give me some advice.
Dear Green Hat,
First things first: the excuse "I am an adulterer because I feel neglected" is nonsense. Adults who think their marriage isn't working speak up and try and resolve it.
If that doesn't work, they separate and find a partnership that does work for them.
Your wife is blaming you for her actions. Don't fall for it. She chose to be a cheat.
So, what can you do? Cheating need not be a marriage killer. If the guilty party or parties take responsibility, express remorse and work hard at rebuilding the relationship, it's perfectly possible to heal. It's easier if there was an original foundation of love and trust as well as common life goals.
From your letter, your wife isn't taking responsibility. That's a bad sign. Even worse, she blithely told you that she's already got a Plan B.
Frankly, I'm appalled. I hope it was said out of shame and that she now thoroughly regrets saying it.
While I'm not surprised you're considering divorce, I suggest that you're still in shock. Plus, there's the massive hurt and betrayal, both of which will mess with your emotions.
My advice is not to do anything hasty. Find yourself a mental health professional, someone sensible who is totally on your side. Remember, it's not a case of divorce or reconciliation as there are other options too.
Talk through all the different permutations: living totally separate lives but living under the same roof, separating officially but not divorcing, steps to reconciliation and rebuilding your marriage, what happens if you just break it off right now, and so on.
At the same time, very quietly go and talk to a lawyer, just to see where you would stand if you separated or divorced.
Again, know all your options. For example, what exactly are your obligations towards her if she moves out but you stay married and you look after the kids? If she goes and lives in a home with the kids, what rights do you have to see them?
When you have it all down, take the path that you feel is best. As the kids are the innocents who will be hurt by this, they are the first priority so pick the route that supports them best. They need age-appropriate information and as much access to both parents and families as possible. Do not involve them in "taking sides". They'll do that when they're all grown up.
No matter what you choose, build up a tight support group made up of people who love you. This is a rough period in your life, and you need to lean on others.
Finally, in case you are secretly thinking this is your fault, stop it.
Remember, decent adults talk to each other and behave respectfully and honestly. When others don't hold to these standards and treat us badly, it's their responsibility, not our shame.