I have been living with a divorced man for eight years in a come-we-stay relationship. He claims to love and respect me a lot, though I sometimes don't feel it. My problem is that he flirts a lot with his female employees. I always hear them bragging how their boss has fallen head over heels in love with them. We have no children together and I am starting to feel wasted. Every time I threaten to leave he apologizes and promises to change. If I ask him why he is sleeping with his staff he just evades my questions. He is always giving empty promises and his financial support is very poor. He is jealous when I am attending to male clients and he shouts at me in front of the house girl and sometimes even guests. Please advise me on what legal rights I have over him. I just don’t know what to do
What the readers say
In a come-we-stay kind of arrangement you have no legal backing but why you need this while you say that this relationship is a casual one. Secondly, find out what caused his divorce and you may realize that even if you were to legitimize the marriage you would sooner than later join the list of divorcees. A man who repeatedly apologizes for the same marital mistake is not about to change.
Do you know why his marriage did not work out? He may be suffering? He may be suffering from depression and stress from the breakup of his previous marriage. He may also be feeling that you don’t appreciate him hence his reluctance to marry you. When people feel unappreciated in relationships they start looking outside. You either legalize your marriage through church wedding or Attorney General’s office or walk away from this marriage before your die of a diseases or stress.
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What I know is that if a man truly wants a woman, he will marry her at the earliest opportunity. If he is living with you then he should honour you by making you his wife. If your desire is to get married and to make a family, how long do you plan to wait? There are other men out there that want a serious woman to settle down with.
He should respect the institution of marriage and stop behaving like a bachelor. If he doesn't accept to solemnize your marriage in a church or at the AG's chambers, just leave him. He is only using you.
Sally, we may need to agree on the facts of this situation; one, he is a divorce; two, he has an insatiable lustful appetite thirst for his employees; three, he has not shown any sign of commitment to you despite the 8 years; four, he does not seem to be adding any value in your life and five, he seems to have very little respect for you, if any. For the time you have spent with him and if he were genuine about this relationship, he ought to have in the least done a few of the things that African men do to show commitment and appreciation for the relationship. At acknowledge and accept these as the facts would be the first step in dealing with the situation.
Everyone deserves a second chance and as such, it is wrong to look down on people just because they are divorced or widowed. However, people who are seeking a second chance in love often have to work slightly harder since the other person is aware that they were in another relationship that did not work out. They have to bend over backwards to show that they are just as good if not better than other people out there. His habits illustrate a picture that is far from this. You may need to know and understand what led to the divorce and sometimes it helps to get it from both parties. He may have been having the very same habits that he is exhibiting now. This could just be him and you may need to choose whether to shut up and put up with his habits or to close the door behind you on your way out.
With regard to what rights you have over him, you actually have none. Come we stay arrangements are not legally binding on any of the parties even where children are involved. Where they are involved, the Courts may compel him to pay child support but they cannot validate the marriage without you following the laid down legal processes.
It is rather clear that you are selling yourself short and the problem is that you may realise and accept this when it is far too late. He is ok with status quo i.e. he is getting everything a man needs and to cap it all you are not putting him under pressure to marry you. Why then would he buy the cow if he is getting the milk for free? You don’t need a forensic expert to tell you that a man who has stayed with you for 8 years and not even attempted to pay dowry is just not interested in marrying you. If you are looking to get married just be in the know that you may be operating on different frequencies.
Simon is a relationships counsellor who helps couples face the hard truth in dealing with issues towards reaching reasonable and amicable solutions
This is not about a boyfriend not treating you well. This is an abusive relationship.
Domestic abuse isn't just physical. The verbal and emotional abuse is just as bad, if not worse. You do not need any legal redress on this matter, you need to stop this.
You're the one who has raised the matter so I will essential address you. You're in this state because you have allowed it. 8 years of no serious commitment in a relationship is a long time and nothing is likely to change the status of this relationship. Please don't buy the lies that men are afraid of commitment. They are not. When they find someone they want to settle down with, they would want to do that in the shortest time possible.
His repeatedly and openly involvement with his work mates and the flirting are all warnings to you. The fact that you can excuse and stand these and the verbal abuse is an indication that you have given away your personal power. If you can't stand up for yourself who will?
It is not being egocentric or selfish to expect and demand to be treated well in a relationship and especially if we are giving the same. This relationship is not doing any good to you. It is robbing and draining your self esteem day by day.
It is true that you have wasted your time with him but that's spilt milk, move on. Carry the lessons with you. Abusers have a way of making their partners to feel like no one else can like them. That's not true. You have a lot of goodness that someone else would greatly appreciate and esteem.
That's not say get yourself into another relationship. You need time to deconstruction the false mental images about yourself that this abusive relationship has built in you. You need to love youself and regain your personal power. Take your time to empower yourself again and fortify your areas of vulnerability.
Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology and loves to share her knowledge in matters of love and marriage.