Love expert Lola Augustine Brown answers your pressing dating and relationship questions
I’ve been married for 16 years and it has never been easy. We struggled financially, my husband had an affair while I was pregnant with our first son (who is now 15) and in a really dark time five years ago, I had an affair that my husband found out about. After that, we cried a lot, went to counseling, and I thought we had come through everything with a stronger marriage. Then, three months ago, I read my husbands emails and found out that he has had multiple affairs, a total of seven more, over the past three years, and every time it has been a young girl (aged 22-25) that he has picked up while working at the mall. I am disgusted. I called the girl he was still seeing and explained that he was married with three children, and she told me that he was in love with her and leaving me. My husband laughed and said he would never leave me, but I had to stop prying and let him live how he wants! Now he expects that I should let him have these affairs, and still be his wife! I’m scared to leave because I’m not financially independent and I have no family to lean on for support. I also have our three sons to take care of, as I know that he won’t. What can I do?
Dazed, hurt, and confused
You absolutely cannot stay in that marriage. Your husband doesn’t respect you, does whatever he wants, and treats you like an idiot. The first thing you need to do, if you’ve still been having sexual relations with your husband, is to go get yourself checked out at a sexual health clinic. I hope that he has been having safe sex with these young women, but obviously you cannot trust him in any way, so you need to ensure that he hasn’t jeopardized your health in any way.
Do you not have a friend that you can turn to for help? Is there no-one that you can talk to about this? I really hope that there is someone in your life that will step up and be your friend right now, because you could really do with one to help you exit this emotionally abusive relationship. You need to come up with a plan as to how you can take control of your life and start living a happy and fulfilling life away from your horrible cheating husband.
If you feel like you have no-one to turn to, talk to your family doctor and see if they can put you in touch with free counseling services, or the local women’s resource centre (many communities have these centres, which are dedicated to empowering women to live better lives).
As for not having enough money to leave him, you need to start building your financial independence for your sake and your children’s (they need a mother who looks after herself and them, not a doormat that their father walks on). If you aren’t working already, get yourself a job, and if you are, take on more hours and start socking away cash so that you can stand on your own two feet. Don’t let yourself be dependent on him anymore, otherwise you’ll stay trapped, and believe me, there is a better future waiting for you away from him. Be strong, and take control of your life.
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Please be advised that, due to the volume of letters, all questions will not be answered. Bell Sympatico or its affiliates are not responsible for outcomes, direct or indirect, resulting from following this advice. By submitting a letter, you are granting permission for its publication. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.