Dear pastor Kitoto,
I wish to commend you for your wise counsel. I married my husband in 2007. I had a daughter from a previous relationship and was also raising my niece. In 2011, I found out that my husband was having an affair with my cousin, who was living with us at the time. It hurt me so much that I moved out of my matrimonial home. This created a big rift within my family that has never been bridged. However, after apologising and sending emissaries, I moved back home and we continued living together. My husband has never been faithful to me, though he tries really hard to hide it. Recently, I found documents belonging to my cousin (the same one that he cheated on me with) in our house. When I confronted him, he claimed that she had given them to him to help her secure a job. This didn't sit well with me, since it meant that the two were still in touch.
He apologised, but the trust was gone. I also found out that he was having another affair and that the girl in question is pregnant, an affair that his family knew about. My husband is not a good provider and has left most of the financial burden to me. He only gives me money when I confront him. I got tired of continually asking him to meet his responsibilities and now do everything on my own since I am financially independent. This aside, he has not been getting on well with my daughter. He is sometimes really hard on her, and on many occasions, I have had to reassure her that all is well. He sometimes ignores her for days to the extent that she feels out of place.
Recently, she decided to go live with my mother. I could stomach my husband’s affairs, but with my daughter gone, I feel there is nothing left for me in this marriage. I want to move out and start a life on my own. I feel really worn out and stressed. He seems content now that my daughter is not around and has never even made an effort to call her to find out how she's fairing. Surprisingly, he seems to get along with my niece. What do I do?
Your relationship presents a number of issues. First is your husband’s improper relationship with your cousin, which has obviously caused you pain. This was demeaning and disrespectful of you.
Second, your perceived feeling that your in-laws are doing very little to help reconcile the two of you is saddening.
From your email, it appears as if the two of you lack people around you to help keep you accountable.
Third is the failure of your husband to provide for his family. Most men that get trapped in cycles of adultery tend to spend most of their money on such relationships at the expense of the family.
Until your husband’s view of marriage changes, it may be difficult to get him to start supporting you.
Fourth, the fact that your husband could have a long-standing improper relationship with your cousin without any serious remorse, followed by impregnating another woman, is disturbing.
Even with all this knowledge, you’re still with him — I feel that your husband has discovered ways of manipulating you to stay with him.
Until you put your foot down and make certain clear demands that seek a change in character, sets boundaries and seeks accountability, his character will continue to deteriorate.
You both need the help of a professional counsellor if you are to salvage your relationship and find long-term healing. But you and your husband need to want it.
It is sad that he has never embraced your daughter and is unkind to her.
Should you choose to give your marriage another chance in spite of the situation, I suggest that your daughter remain with your mother until things get better.
You also need to be careful lest your husband behaves in an unbecoming way towards your niece.
Here are some factors couples need to be aware of:
First, the vision of every relationship must be about cultivating an environment that fosters safety.
Safety will ensure growth and productivity of the relationship and those involved. In your relationship, I see lack of clear proactive steps to create a safe environment.
The amount of freedom in a relationship will depend on how physically and emotionally one feels in the relationship. How freely do you speak your mind?
Second, the spiritual state of a relationship contributes to the values a couple embraces and practises.
It also determines the boundaries and presence of values such as trustworthiness, respect and empathy.
Third, unhealthy relationships are destructive. Writer James Walker, in his book Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow, says, “When conflicts arise in a relationship, differences are easily mislabelled not for what they are but simply as a lack of love.”
Love should not be confused with random feelings. Love is a choice to walk through all seasons of marriage in an unselfish way together.
Fourth, commitment to each other forms the basis for respect and honesty.
When the feeling of safety is absent, a couple becomes disoriented and may feel as if their concerns and opinions are not listened to.
Being heard in a relationship communicates oneness. What you are feeling now is a combination of all these factors, which has made you lose faith in your marriage.
She says that she loves me, yet she’s flirting with my boss …
I am in a relationship with a colleague I have been dating for two years now. She is young, so I know my male colleagues are likely to find her attractive. However, I found out that she and my boss have been having conversations that are flirtatious and sexual in nature. I confronted her, only for her to explain that they have nothing going on, that it’s just conversation. She assured me that she loves me and sees a future with me and that above all, trust is the key to a happy relationship. The thing is that I can't tell whether she is lying or not.
Let me look at your question from a wider scope and talk about workplace relationships and how we may handle them.
Dating a colleague comes with its own challenges. First, if not well-nurtured, the relationship may affect how one or both of you relate with colleagues.
Suspicion leads to mistrust and jealousy that result from perceived improper closeness with other workmates.
Second, worry and anxiety develop where there is mistrust, and in such a case, one may be unable to concentrate on their job, leading to poor performance, which could lead to job loss.
What is happening in your relationship is the product of the suspicions you have concerning your girlfriend’s interaction with your boss, which is what motivated you to spy on her.
This action opened a can of worms that you have no idea how to deal with.
First, this led to lack of trust when you discovered the suggestive messages, making you believe that the closeness she has with the boss is not as innocent as she claims.
Seeing that both of you work in the same department, this situation, if not well managed, could work against you.
You therefore need to be careful about how you confront and contain it.
Under no circumstances should you create drama in the workplace, bearing in mind that power dynamics are at play here, with your boss holding the power.
That said, I don’t think your girlfriend sees things from your perspective.
Yes, she says that she loves you and sees a future with you, why then is she flirting and having inappropriate conversations with another man?
Her reluctance to see this as a concern that requires remedy is worrying. From an ethical standpoint, it is unhealthy for her to have such a relationship with her boss.
If she values what you have, she needs to terminate this improper relationship with her boss — no one other than her can do it.
One way she could do this is seek a transfer to another department or get another job.
You have an option too. Since she is not married to you or engaged to you, it would be easier for you to walk away from this relationship.
As a young person looking for a meaningful relationship, I suggest that you be careful not to get caught up in a relationship leading to nowhere.
Most young people tend to think that the person they are with is the one they will spend the rest of their life with, hence going into a panic when the relationship fails to work out.
Consider the facts you have with a sober mind and ask yourself whether this relationship is right for you. I am sure that, eventually, you will make the right decision.
Do you have a relationship question? Email [email protected]