I am 38 and a divorced mother of two. I met my ex-husband in the university where we fell in love and married immediately after. However, he had a child with another woman who I didn’t think was a threat then despite the fact that he was taking care of both the mother and child. After our second child, their relationship became intimate and he started mistreating me so much that I divorced him. He moved in with her and it has been four years now. The problem is that I still love him so much that I am no longer bitter. Whenever he comes to see our children and he says he still loves me and he married the other woman out of the circumstances I put him in. He wants me to be his lawful wife for life. He has still not married the other woman -- they have only been in a living-together sort of arrangement. I need your advice on what to do in this situation.
What the readers say:
Marion are you divorced or separated? A sensible woman would not get into a polygamous marriage in this era of HIV/AIDS. Have a candid discussion with him and be clear on your expectations. If for any reason you don’t agree, just call it quits early for a stitch in time saves nine. ?
If you are the one who divorced him and he has come back and apologised then you will have to accept his apology. Similarly, if it is true that you took him through hard times and you are ready to change then you have your man knocking. What these mean is that, either way, you can try and give him a second chance and let it be a fresh beginning.
This man you are calling husband is double dealing with you and I think he is more interested with his children than you women. Seek legal readdress of your union let him introduce the other woman to this discussion and all of you agree on the way forward. Because you may get married in Attorney General chamber and with permission from the other woman you can or she can become second wife and you become first wife and vice versa.
The fact that he had a child with this other lady was in itself a red flag which you failed to appreciate from the beginning. He seems to embrace polygamy so maybe he wants you for second wife. Will she accept to have a co wife like you did? Anyway whatever decision you make, think about the psychological comfort of the children first not yourself.
Getting back together is purely a choice that both of you will make. But you need to know what you are getting into. By the look of things you are heading into a polygamous marriage because there is no indication he is leaving the other woman.
If you had divorced then you will have to legalise your marriage again. I hope you realise that a relationship is a matter of the heart and not the papers we append our signatures on. It requires the individuals to live both the letter and the spirit of it. Otherwise, you will be exalting your position of being legally married above the other woman who is in a stay-in arrangement. Yet he lives with her and spends his life with her.
Also, remember that as an adult, he makes decisions. One of such is to move in with the mother of his child. This was his choice and not anything that you did. So quit this guilt party and let him come clear about what he wants. Do not lie to yourself, he loves you but is not strong enough to let the other woman go.
Polygamy is legal but it comes loaded with challenges you need to be aware of beforehand. It is a competition. Hatred, envy and jealousy arena ranging from competition for attention, children’s well-being among others. This can sometimes get to really toxic levels. If you go this way, brace up for it. Apart from that, I strongly suggest that you ask him to decide on who he wants to settle down with of the two of you. Let him know that you are not available to handle his indecisive nature and that you deserve seriousness and commitment.
Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology
Marion, many things could be going on here; one, he may be testing your feelings just for the sake of it; two, he may be having issues in his current family arrangement and three; he may actually be serious about getting back with you.
Whatever the case, you will need to be careful with how you treat him and, for sometime, it may be prudent to handle him at arm’s length before you let him back into your life again.
Why would he be testing your feelings just for the sake of testing? Generally, men never fully let go of women they had deep and intimate relationships with. Even when they move on, they still hope that the woman will always have a soft spot for them, therefore, they can always go back into their lives as they please.
When they want to test this, they come back with all manner of sweet words and promises but this usually just to test and when they are satisfied, they will leave until the next time they will want to test again.
Give him some time and you will have a clear answer as to what his intentions are.
Nonetheless, suppose he is sincere and really wants you back? In this situation, there are very many things to be put under consideration.
One, he is already living with the other woman so what will this mean for everyone? Will he move back in with you? Is it going to be just you or will the triangle still exist? If going the triangle way, who will be first wife and who will be the other?
What guarantees can he give to you to assure you that he indeed means what he says?
All these things will have to be carefully worked out and a clear position established before you can make any concrete decisions.
This is the kind of thing that will require that you use your mind rather than your heart in
decision-making. Lastly, as you think through this, bear in mind that there is a situation on the other side. She is most certainly not going take this lying down and hand him over to you on a silver platter.
Brace yourself for a protracted battle that will indeed take a toll on everyone. This will not only include the three of you but also the children -- other close family members and friends. You have been hurt before; don’t let him hurt you again.
Simon Anyona is a relationships counsellor
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