Sad, bitter feelings about cheating hubby

All Woman

DEAR COUNSELLOR,

I have been in a relationship for 20 years, married for 13. I have never felt comfortable. First it was because he was always getting jealous over where I was, what I was doing, and with whom, then I found out he cheated and it was never the same. I cried, I cursed, I searched his possessions and became a wreck. I called the women and made a fool of myself. Now he has a child with one of the women he cheated with. We do nothing much together anymore, and when we are out it doesn't feel like he wants to be there.

I want to feel like I am in a relationship and I don't think I have ever been. We have children so it's hard to let go. But when do you say well that's it and quit? Most times I am just angry and bitter. I want to raise my kids right. I spoke in detail about how his cheating has affected me and it hasn't stopped. I want to move on, but I fear my daughter may end up like me — insecure with attachment issues. I really want to know what it feels like to love and trust someone. I am tired of second guessing. I want to be free, I want to find myself. Please help!

One of the tell-tale signs of a cheater is the tendency to be overly jealous and highly suspicious of his/her partner. The person most times projects their own sense of guilt on their partner and makes their life miserable.

Your husband was obviously busy while he was close-marking you. His wandering behaviour resulted in the birth of a child outside wedlock which is in keeping with his modus operandi. It may be possible that he has other children out there as well.

So let's look at your reaction to his action and see what the costs and benefits were. You said that you cried, cursed, searched and even confronted the other women, no doubt with the intention of displaying your disgust and anger. Whereas this action on your part might make you feel justified, it evidently did more mental and emotional harm. The instinctive reaction when we are hurt by someone is to go on the offensive and go in attack mode, but the results are not always to our benefit. It's always best to sit and process the situation before we act.

In your case you acted before thinking and ended up feeling defeated and hurt. Would a less confrontational approach work? You stated that from the outset you were uncomfortable in the relationship. How did you convey your discomfort? If you couldn't get through to him did you seek help from a marriage counsellor? Sometimes one or both partners observe but ignore the red flags that indicate trouble is brewing, expecting the passage of time to resolve the issues. This is a mistaken notion as the unresolved matters will only deteriorate over time.

It is always challenging to navigate a dysfunctional relationship especially when young children are involved. As much as you would like to achieve personal happiness, the emotional welfare of each child can't be neglected. Your hesitancy to move out and on is understood as the disruption could negatively impact the children.

Sometimes, however, we must choose the best of the worst. In some instances, having the children witness the toxicity is much more detrimental than separation. You indicated fear that your daughter may experience a similar fate, which may or may not be the case. Just be honest with her and keep the lines of communication open.

If insecurity and attachment issues are your personal challenges, then you may need to consider working with a counsellor to address them. If not dealt with effectively, they will cause you much distress and anxiety in your current and future relationships should you decide to move on.

As you contemplate your next move, strongly do some introspection and determine what would be in the best interest of you and the children.

Take care and all the best.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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