I found out he was cheating while he was in a coma

DEAR COUNSELLOR,

I hope that you are well. I am in need of some advice.

My partner was in a coma. He's recovering well, but slowly. During the time he was comatose, I found out that he had another relationship for about 11 months.

To say that I was shocked is an understatement. Supporting him with the knowledge that he has not been faithful or honest with me is hard. I am his primary support and his next of kin. His siblings and parents are also supportive, but the heavier burden is on me.

I feel like I should leave him at this point and let them take care of him, even though they live hours away from where he's hospitalised — it's about a 30 minute drive for me.

I don't understand how or why he could deceive and lie to me like this when I did all I could for him. There was nothing that he needed that I didn't try to take care of. I worked long hours to ensure our bills were paid and I paid for his health insurance too. His salary went towards a house he's building, and savings.

I made appointments, washed, cooked, cleaned, ironed... I see conversations in which he tells her he can't speak with her because he's busy washing or ironing, or something of the sort. If he could say that to her, why couldn't he just help me do them or do them himself? Whenever I asked for his help, he'd say he's tired or he'd have some other thing to do. I think he hated me.

I want to know how I can process this hurt. Do I tell his siblings what's happened and move on with my life? Or do I stay and see that he is well before leaving because I do still care for him?

Your sage counsel is appreciated.

You have been a tremendous support to your partner. What you're facing would be a challenge for the strongest amongst us. Stating that you still care for him says that you've loved him deeply. Stephen R Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, makes a good point you should know, though. He says "No" must always be an option for people. He means that people must always retain the strength to walk away from something that's overwhelming, imprudent, or unhealthy. In your situation, "No" must indeed be an option. Prepare yourself to be able to say "No. No more," if necessary.

Saying, "No. No more," to someone doesn't mean you don't care for them. It means that you also care about yourself and the bigger picture. Covey also says when we say "No" to one situation we are actually saying "Yes" to another. However, there's also something to be said about a person with the quality that the Bible calls long-suffering. It is a quality that comes from the spirit of God, whereby an individual can persist on a good cause despite great difficulty.

My advice:

See him through: If only for the sake of all you've already invested. Care for him until you perceive he's well enough to discuss it. Think of this as, "Here's a person needing temporary charity."

Prepare options: Have two plans. 1) For an unacceptable response from him that sees you leaving. And 2) For a remorseful response that warrants further investigation. Most people might have terminated the relationship instantly. However, discuss it and have your plans. You might give his siblings a general picture of why you leave if you do.

Secure a support structure: Get with a counsellor, mature friends, family or a church to create a support structure. Find time to recharge with friends. See about your own mental, physical, and financial health.

I pray that you're healed and reap powerful rewards for your sacrifices.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher BRODBER

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