"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
My husband and I have been together for seven years. We planned to have children and were happy when I got pregnant.
We lived in Central America, where my husband works. Due to health issues and an unsafe environment, we decided it would be better for me to go back to my home country to deliver the baby.
After I left, he became distant. He did not answer my calls and messages, and I confronted him many times about it. He started to hide his salary. I asked him if he had a mistress and he kept quiet without admitting anything.
So I delivered our son, and my husband was happy. We made arrangements for the two of us to return to my husband’s location after three months. But then he said he had a lot of work and I should remain in my home city. He became uninterested in me and our baby. I confronted him again, and he started to ignore me for most of the time, saying that he was too busy at work.
Finally, we bought tickets to go back to Central America. The day before our arrival, my husband sent me a text saying he wanted a divorce. I called him to find out the reason. When he finally answered the phone, he said he never loved me, that I and our son were a big mistake and he did not care about us anymore. He said if I wanted, I could change the name and surname of our son because he did not care. I was devastated.
Then he disappeared. I checked our joint account and found that he had secretly withdrawn all the money.
I found out that just after I left my husband, he began visiting nightclubs and casinos. He met a Colombian woman and started cheating on me while I was pregnant. This woman has two grown children and she was a migrant looking for a job. He let her live in our flat with him.
He lost a lot of money gambling and blamed his gambling addiction on his unhappy life with me. He said the other woman was his soulmate and he was happy with her. He has blocked me on all social networks, but I have seen many pictures on his posts of him and the woman together.
He doesn’t help us financially and we are still not divorced. Seven months after our separation, I e-mailed him to ask that he settle our divorce but he has ignored my letters. He has planned a vacation with his girlfriend and will take her to meet his parents next month.
His parents have told me that whatever he has done, he is still their son and I should move on. They said my son will give me the spirit to keep on living.
I have a lot of questions. Why didn’t he speak with me about how he felt? Why did he cheat? Why is it so easy to give up his own son? Why did he move on to another relationship so quickly? Why doesn’t he want to deal with divorce?
He has had relationships before me. They didn’t last very long, just about two years, before he got bored. He told me he had genuine love for me and it would never end. Now he has betrayed me and our son. – Mia
This is truly devastating and I really feel for you. What an awful situation to be in.
First, please find a lawyer to talk to, one who specialises in international divorce. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to address these kinds of situations because you’re working across borders. Your lawyer will lay out your options so you can make an informed decision.
Now, about the emotional fallout, you’re asking why he never opened up to you, how come he’s just pretending your relationship never happened, and how he can ignore his own baby.
So how does that work?
To be totally clear, I’m going to talk text book first, then give my personal opinion and then make suggestions for you specifically, so bear with me.
Generally speaking, as we move through life, we work through a series of stages. Some people find it a real challenge to change from a child into a teen, from a teen into a young adult, from a single person to a married person, and so on. A few reject change altogether.
I think you may have heard the term “Peter Pan”, meaning a man who never wants to grow up. This sounds very much like your husband.
From your letter, having a baby together was too much of a shock for him. He didn’t like the idea of being a dad, responsible for a tiny baby and a wife, and so he ran away.
As you noted, he’s done this before. Until he met you, he had a series of two-year relationships. It suggests that as soon as a relationship deepens and becomes more meaningful, he’s off.
You were the exception. I think he did love you but now he’s back to his old habits. He’s setting up with a new woman, pretending he’s young still, and without responsibilities.
Look, I think it’s fair to say that life is very complex, and sometimes we come to the realisation that the things we thought we longed for (marriage, babies, lifelong commitment) aren’t what we truly want.
But when that happens, the proper approach is to step up and address it honestly. It’s heartbreaking but decent people come to an arrangement where the baby is looked after, and the adults make the best deal for everyone.
Running away is not an option. It’s cowardly and it’s cruel.
Your husband knows this, and that’s why he’s pretending that you’re the bad person, that he never really loved you, and that he’s the victim. Because if he for one second confronts what he’s done, he will hate himself.
It’s also why he’s ignoring you. Every time he thinks of you, the guilt hits him. And frankly, it should. Because it’s okay to decide you need to exit a relationship, but to abandon a wife and new baby while you and your new mistress go partying is the depths of moral turpitude.
Okay, now what can you do? Seeing he’s not even in the same country, and that he’s planned this down to the last detail, emptying the bank account and leaving you high and dry, I honestly don’t see much opportunity for repairing the relationship. My advice is to get that lawyer and quickly.
Reach out to your family and friends, and build a support network. When you’re doing that leaning, make sure to include a practical focus. You need to build a bright future for you and your baby.
At the same time, invest in your mental health. To work through your own emotions, find a therapist. Let it all hang out, and figure out how you can work your way back to happiness.
I appreciate this is very difficult and I wish I could wave a magic wand and help make it all better. I will say this: it’s going to be messy and painful but you will get through this. Do let me know how you get on. I will be thinking of you.