The eternal triangle

Wayne Powell

Monday, January 01, 2018

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Dear Counsellor,

I'm a 25-year-old wife and mother of a baby girl. My ex and I dated for three months and those were the best months of my life. However, I broke up with him because my now husband proposed. He was a member of my church and my father is a church leader and my parents knew his family, so it was hard to refuse his offer of marriage. I called my ex and broke up with him, but I couldn't explain to him what went wrong because we never fought and I still loved him a lot.

I stretched the engagement out for three years because I felt that I couldn't get married while I was still so in love with my ex, so I made excuses. My ex, meanwhile, got close to one of my friends and they dated for a year and a half but broke up because he wouldn't break contact with me.

After three years of engagement I got pregnant for my now husband, and then he started to change. He started drinking and smoking and going out a lot with his friends. My ex would call most times to check on me and ask how the pregnancy was going. During the time I was studying he would also wake me up to study and wish me good luck for tests. We sometimes talked the whole night and texted during the day.

My fiancé and I started arguing a lot; however, we got married after the baby was born since I couldn't credibly postpone the wedding any longer. We've been fighting a lot ever since and he even hit me once, and I forgave him. When I tell him that I want a divorce he will tell me he can't live without me and the only time I will leave him is if I die. I'm scared to leave him because I don't want to hurt my daughter and my family.

My ex asked me why I left him and I explained everything to him. He never got angry, but said I hurt him badly and made him incapable of sustaining relationships after that. He also has a beautiful baby girl.

We've decided to meet up soon as friends and I don't know what to expect and what to do. I still love this guy, but he has never told me whether he still loves me and I don't want to mess up his life again. Being friends with him is enough, and better than nothing.

I just don't know what to do. Please help.

Marriage is a major life-changing decision that ought to be taken seriously. So as much as parents, friends, church people and others may offer advice and suggestions, the decision to marry whom, when, why, where, and how is the prerogative of the individuals involved.

Too many people, possibly with good intentions, put pressure on their family and church members to get married even when there is doubt and uncertainty by one or both partners. So the marriage goes ahead to appease everybody else except the couple involved.

This seems to be the case in your situation. You must have seen some red flags that onlookers were not privy to that led to your doubt. That would have been the time to assess the state of the relationship and decide on the future.

So now you have an abusive husband while your ex is playing an emotionally supportive role in your life. But is this situation sustainable? Can you manage what appears to be a dysfunctional relationship alongside the loving attention you are getting from your ex?

I am sure the people who were pushing for the marriage are now very silent, so you are left alone to deal with the challenges you now face. The threat by your husband is most unfortunate and should not be taken lightly.

One can understand your reluctance to leave the relationship. Have any of those who encouraged the marriage come forward to have a word with your husband about his destructive behaviour?

Continued friendship with your ex is fine, but to take it to the next level might be fatal in view of your husband's pronouncement. So it makes sense to establish boundaries with your ex and avoid further complications that could negatively impact your daughter.

I recommend professional counselling for both of you as a couple as well as individually. Do take care of yourself.

 

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail powellw@seekingshalom.org.

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