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March 10, 2019


‘How do I cope with my husband’s secret affairs?

Dear Auntie,
I have written to you several times. My story is about my husband’s tendency to engage in hidden relationships — with his colleagues and or any eligible woman — to satiate a ‘man’s flirtatious and polygamous’ instincts.

Being a wife it hurts me and I have coped with it for the last 15 years, while raising my three kids with full responsibility. He thinks that his sole duty is to fulfill financial obligations and that it is a man’s right and instinct to feel free to get into relationships with other women, single or married.

My question is this: every third year in my marriage, I am devastated (with all my energies drained) due to some new revelation. Now it hurts so much and I feel like I am the most useless entity who should not have been on this planet to face this horrible marital life. Please advise me how to soothe myself after multiple betrayals. My husband gives superficial assurances that he will not to do it again when I know that old habits die hard. Two of my kids are in their early teens, and the little one is just nine. I can move out or live independently, but my kids will be ruined. And above all I love my family and this man, too.


Dear Decide,

The difference between your husband and some other men, who also have polygamous instincts, is that they don’t act on it. As a society, we need to stop pretending that men are animals with little control over their instincts. We need to stop accepting that men are beings who cannot help cheating, touching inappropriately, staring and passing lewd comments. They can do all that and more. They are human beings like you, and what separates humans from other living beings is that we have control. Whether a man chooses to exercise that control is what separates a decent man from an indecent one, like your husband.

Do you really want to go through this humiliation every few years, just so the children can have a cheating man of a father as their role model? Remember this: Children are always learning from their environment. What you have tolerated at home is normal for them. They think a cheating man and his victim wife is normal. Let that sink in.

You haven’t said whether you have daughters or sons, but by tolerating your husband’s cheating you are essentially telling your daughters that it is okay to live with repeated humiliation by a wayward husband. You are also teaching your sons that it is okay to cheat on the wife. And also that a normal home is where you fight when you catch a straying spouse and where there is a general lack of trust. You teach them that it is okay to be dying inside, while pasting a smile on your face to show the world that all is well. To be fair, there are a lot of people who reconcile such situations in their head and lead seemingly normal lives. They value the sanctity of marriage above everything else and will tolerate anything —blows to their self-esteem and repeated humiliation — just so they don’t end up alone and the children have both parents present at home.

And then there are those who cannot do the hypocrisy. They walk out and divorce, preferring a life without daily humiliation. It is really up to you what you decide to do. But know one thing: this seems to be a pattern for your husband and it doesn’t seem like he is about to change any day, because you have accepted the behaviour and tolerated it. He also has very little respect for women. He doesn’t respect you, nor does he respect his prey. You can do this for a lifetime or you can take a stand. Neither is easy. You decide.

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to:

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 10th, 2019