Three years later, I’m yet to meet my husband’s family

Wednesday March 18 2020
WOMAN

A lack of personal preparedness and the desire to get into a relationship quickly, get a baby and hope to settle down as soon as possible has left many sad and disappointed. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

By PHILIP KITOTO

Dear Philip,

I am 22 years old. I met the father of my child three years ago while I was still in college. I dropped out of college and we started living together in a sort of traditional marriage.

My parents know about my marriage, however, I have never felt confident enough to call him my husband. I have never met his family and know nothing about them. He tells me that he has two brothers, but they have never visited us. His excuse is that they do not see eye to eye.

I had a difficult pregnancy and birth, yet none of his people come to visit. A few weeks ago, I got fed up and accompanied a mutual friend who told me that she had leads about my hubby’s parents. I ended up meeting his 70-year-old grandmother.

I also discovered that when his parents passed away, he ran away from his home.

He was 14 years then, and his relatives have never seen him since. I also discovered that he was actually adopted from a couple the old woman does not know. My hubby has no idea that I have been to his village with our baby.

There are many issues we have fought over during the last three years. We do not even sleep in the same bed any more. Whenever I raise these issues, he either shuts me out or takes off to a friend’s house.

I feel so frustrated because we have so many unresolved matters. I just feel as if we are in a fake marriage.

Hi there,

What you are feeling is normal in situations where one hurried to get into a relationship. A lack of personal preparedness and the desire to get into a relationship quickly, get a baby and hope to settle down as soon as possible has left many sad and disappointed.

Drawing from the age of your two-year-old, it is clear that you hardly dated this man for a month before you moved in together, and then a baby followed soon after.

This by itself is enough to complicate a relationship and leave a couple disoriented early in the marriage. Other than personal preparedness, every couple needs to get their priorities right through regular disclosure of their past and present as the relationship progresses.

Such disclosure is critical to cementing the union and building a couple’s synergy.

PERSONAL GOALS

I have discovered that several reasons keep spouses, particularly men, from introducing their wives to their close family and friends.

The first reason is where a man is not quite sure of what he wants in the relationship. This speaks into the man’s unpreparedness in his personal goals. Also worth noting is that some get into the relationship for personal gratification or trial basis, not necessarily for longevity.

The second major reason is where there is something to hide that could embarrass or elicit pain.

Where there is limited disclosure, a lot is left in the background that could later hurt the relationship. We are all the by-product of our upbringing. For example, was there abuse, neglect, abandonment, or careless living in his past life? Upbringing and exposure greatly influence how we socialise.

HIDE INFORMATION

Some people may hide such information particularly where it could paint them in bad light, however, hurting people hurt others even without intending to do so. Disclosure is therefore key to the stability of any relationship.

What is clear from your discovery is that your husband must have led a very lonely life, having ran away from his family when he was quite young.

There is also the fact that he was adopted. Such a difficult background could be what is causing him to be secretive and making it difficult to talk freely and openly about his past. Now that you know more than he thinks you do, it may be difficult to disclose what you know since you cannot be sure of his reaction.

As much as you were anxious and needed to know what he wouldn’t tell you, you have now been placed in a situation where this information could further tear you apart because he might feel betrayed.

SECRECY

A third reason for his secrecy could be that he is not ready to face the responsibilities that come with being married. Most people who want to avoid the responsibilities of marriage tend to avoid any sort of commitment. It could be that introducing you to his relatives could mean taking responsibility and behaving in a manner that befits the institution. You cannot force a man into marriage.

It happens that women, more than men, are the ones who feel the pressure of not being in a stable relationship, therefore, a clear roadmap should be put in place as a couple is dating to somehow put this forward movement into perspective.

For example, what do we need to do in our first six, 12 months or two years of dating? This brings a level of certainty to the relationship.
From your own initiative, you are discovering for yourself information the father of your child should have given you earlier.

I do not see why he hesitated to take you into his confidence. Could this have been driven and fuelled by fears and insecurities he may have had about himself? Something is definitely wrong somewhere.

ACCEPTANCE

In some cultures, parents from both sides visiting the newborn is a sign of acceptance of the little one and the mother.

That said, I suggest that you find out how to best divulge what you know because it is only a matter of time before your husband finds out that you visited his relatives behind his back.

You also need to ask yourself whether what you are going through can be healed. The truth is that something is definitely not right in your relationship, and it is important to be careful not to open another chapter that will hurt both of you even more.

You also need to deal with your inner emotions and disappointment. You said you no longer sleep in the same bed – this is a major sign of just how big the rift is between the two of you, so you urgently need to resolve within you what you really want.

HEART-TO-HEART CHAT

You also mentioned that you do not view him as your husband. Could this have affected how you treat him, thereby leading to the deterioration of how you handle issues between the two of you? This mentality must be fixed if your desire is to mend the relationship.

Once you have resolved what you want and change how you feel, then you need to list down the issues you feel are pulling the two of you apart.

Once you do this, I suggest that you request for a sit down with your husband and have a heart-to-heart chat without condemning him.

You could also consider seeing a counsellor who will help arbitrate between the two of you, particularly because he is bound to get offended when he learns that you went looking for his family without his knowledge.

Above all, ask yourself where you desire to see this relationship go.

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