His wife won't let go

Dear Thelma,

I'm in my late 20s, I met X, who's in his late 40s, five years ago. He has been married for 25 years and has two grown up children in their 20s. One of them is a slow learner who still relies on his parents for everything. The other child is still studying. Both are extremely pampered.

His life has been very routine all these years and his wife ensures that they always do everything together.

She's a selfish woman and never gives X any space. She follows him everywhere, be it to the bank or just to grab the newspaper. But even though he's unhappy and has repeatedly asked her why she follows him everywhere, she just keeps quiet.

When his wife's friends asked her why she is controlling her husband like that, her answer is: "He's my husband and I love him so much!" Upon hearing this, X keeps quiet.

He has told me he never loved his wife and all these years, has never uttered the words "I love you" to her. He's the type of man who would say "I love you" only if he meant it. I'm not sure why he doesn't love her.

They dated for seven years until she finally asked him whether he was going to marry her. He agreed because he wanted children. All these years, he has never tried to hold her hand or kiss her on his own accord. She was always the one who initiated things. She would even make him buy concert tickets even though he doesn't want to go and this would result in a quarrel.

He has always been a dedicated father and loves his children dearly. He used to reach home about 5pm right after work to spend time with the family and have dinner with them.

But ever since he met me, he has changed.

When he's with the family, his mind and heart are not with them. We would go out till 10pm sometimes. He would quarrel with his wife because of that.

Then last year, his workload increased drastically. His health has deteriorated due to stress. In the last few months, his wife found out that we're seeing each other. She warned him to stop and demanded that he goes home every evening right after work so that he doesn't have any opportunity to meet me. She told him that she was going to take action against me.

He has said that he's worried for my safety. Ever since she found out about me, she has been different. She would end SMSes with "love you" and "I miss you". In the 25 years of their marriage, she has never done this before.

X tries avoiding her and refuses to have sex with her. He said he can never love her the way he loves me no matter what she does or writes.

His wife seems pathetic as she has been forcing X to do only the things she wants. She has no idea what he truly wants. This is not the right way to love a person. In order to keep peace in the house, he tries to strike a balance between his family and me. He would rush over to meet me right after work for dinner but leave early. He is not a happy person anymore as work and personal stress is killing him.

The wife recently bought a house in his hometown close to where his parents live to ensure that he's always with her and the children. Her family knows that X is seeing me. He has asked his mother for permission to divorce his wife but she tells him to be patient.

I'm not happy anymore because we don't get to spend as much time as before. I don't know what to do or how long I can hang on. He doesn't want to have a broken family as it will affect the children. He has also said that at his age, he doesn't want too much change.

I've sacrificed a lot for X. I'm self-reliant and not taking any of his money. I've tried many times to break it off with him, but we always get back together again because we love each other deeply. What should I do?

Unhappy

You seem to know so much about X's wife. Have you met her and found out these things for yourself?

If not, you're making a lot of assumptions about her. And, this is not fair to her. You are involved in something that involves her life and you don't know her side of the story.

You are only aware of the situation from X's point of view.

Granted, he may not love his wife or have ever loved her. Have you stopped to consider, however, why he married her when he did not love her? He wanted children and she was around. Basically, it sounds like he used her. And, she has no idea.

He knew her for seven years before they got married and never once did he dispel her belief that he loved her.

She probably sensed it and tried to hold on to him. She is at a point where she is fighting for her husband and will do anything to keep him. Any wife would.

Her "forcing" X to do things together could be a way for her to get him to spend time with her and get close. What is the crime in that? Let's look at some of the things that X is stressed about. He has a wife and two children. It is not out of the ordinary to expect him to have dinner with them. It's not easy looking after a child with special needs - physically, emotionally and psychologically.

It is not too much for X's wife to expect him to also share the responsibility. It's not just about earning enough money to put food on the plate, a roof over their heads and making sure the family is not lacking materially. His responsibilities as a husband and father go beyond that.

X is a grown man who has fathered two children. Surely, he can make decisions on his own. I fail to understand the logic - it is embarrassing to the family to get a divorce, but completely acceptable to cheat on his wife?

If life with his wife is so bad, and having dinner with his family is so unbearable, then he will have little trouble with a divorce. He will only have to meet his children once in a while and cut himself off from them while still providing for them financially.

You must accept this for what it is. He is cheating on his family with you. And, he has convinced you that he is doing the "right" thing. He has managed to convince you that he is a victim of his "evil" wife. You probably feel like you are saving him somehow.

You are not. The situation he is in today is of his own doing. He lacked integrity to do what was right. This behaviour continues until today.

He is using you. He is blaming everyone else for the wrong decisions that he made in his life. It may not be long before he blames you also.

You obviously love him and he seems to have manipulated that in order to get you to sympathise for him. You shouldn't. I hope you see that he is not the victim here.

You know what you have to do. Now you have to find the strength to stand by your decision. If he really loves you and wants a future with you, he will take the necessary steps. Don't hold your life ransom to his inability to make the right decision.

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