I am a 25-year-old Pakistani woman currently living in Dubai with my husband. We got married about a year ago. I am an MBA with a successful professional career as a banker but my married life is pathetic.
I am pregnant but my husband has no interest in me. During most of the evenings, he hangs out with his friends only. After my marriage, I found out that he previously had a colourful life and was in touch with a number of women from his past.
We had several fights during this time because of his behaviour and every time he blamed me for spying on him. Our families in Pakistan always intervened in a bid to clear our differences saying it was normal for couples to have such fights.
I recently went to Pakistan for a short period and upon my return, I was shocked to know that my husband had been inviting women to our place when I away. I was devastated that I am pregnant with our first child and my husband is cheating on me. He has apologised to me and promised that he would never do that again. But I have forgiven him so many chances in the past and I do not trust him anymore. What should I do?
A broken wife
Dear broken wife,
I am sorry but your husband is not only being unfaithful to you but is also a ‘serial cheater’. It must be a painful experience for you particularly when you are expecting your first child. Your feelings of anger are natural and justified.
On top of that, your husband is being over-smart by trying to turn the tables on you by accusing you of spying on him. He is trying to put you on the defensive. Beware; it is a trap for you. Instead, tell him confidently that due of his unfaithfulness you had no choice but to find out the truth yourself. Sadly, you are in a precarious situation right now and taking a decision about your relationship is challenging to say the least.
Think what you want
You may think that you want to pack up your bags and leave, but give yourself time to reflect on what has happened and what is best for you, your baby and your relationship before doing something you may regret later. You can certainly spend some time away from your spouse, but avoid asking for a divorce or taking any drastic measures right away.
Speak to your husband
There must be certain questions in your head. You may, for instance, want an explanation for his infidelity. Your husband may be hesitant to open up about why he cheated on you. Factors that lead to an affair are sensitive, and your husband may do want to talk about them. However, underlying factors need to be addressed in a healthy fashion if the relationship needs to be salvaged. Try to get a sense of why he had an affair; there should be a reason behind it. This will help you to decide whether you want to try to repair the relationship or whether it is time to let it go.
Tip: Try to gauge whether he seems sincere; go with your gut instinct here. If it seems like he is just telling you what you want to hear, be wary.
He deserves to tell his story
Does he want to stay with you? Or, was cheating his easy way out of this relationship? Is he in love with someone else? You need to know his intentions before you can decide about your relationship. He deserves to tell his side of the story. You may feel frustrated and annoyed but it is important to sit and listen to your partner. You may learn about new feelings or frustrations that you did not know your partner had.
Do not blame yourself
It is easy for people to start looking at themselves for the reasons their partners cheated on them. Your partner has broken your trust and ruined the relationship. Nevertheless, you are not responsible for your partner’s behaviour. Even if you feel, you could have been a better wife, your partner still had made cheated on you.
Having said that, there could be certain grey areas in your relationship too but that is certainly not always the case.
Get social support
When you are going through a relationship crisis, it is crucial to lean on people who you trust. Having the support of loved ones can help you feel that you have some control over your life and actions when a situation may cause you feel helpless. Whether you decide to remain in the relationship or not, the support of others is important. You deserve care, love, and support from your loved ones but their opinions can never replace your own.
Don’t obsess over what others will think
Although the people close to you can give you useful advice, in the end, it is all about what is best for you. You should not ask yourself what everyone would think if you decide to leave or to stay in a relationship. It does not matter what everyone else thinks. Do not let the judgment of others cloud your decision-making process.
Consider professional counselling
Dealing with a dishonest partner on your own can be difficult. A qualified counsellor can help you work through your issues and provide healthy coping strategies. You can go for both individual and couples counselling sessions. Couples counselling will help if you two decide to move forward together. It will help you get back to a healthy place in your relationship. Try to find a counsellor who has experience helping couples repair their relationships after infidelity. Keep in mind that counselling will not offer an instant solution and re-establishing trust in your relationship will take time.
Get tested for STDs
Now that you know your partner has cheated on you; you should be tested for STDs immediately. Make a visit to your doctor to go through full panel STD test. Early treatment is critical especially since you are pregnant. Make sure your husband and his family know that you are going for this test. This should make them realise the gravity of your spouse’s actions. He might argue that it is not necessary, but you have to make sure that you are safe.
Decide if you want to fix your relationship
Make your mind. Do you think you can forgive your husband and have a healthy relationship again? Alternatively, do you think there is no chance it will ever work again? It is important, to be honest with you. The important thing is to take the time and space you need to reflect before making any decision. There is no right answer when it comes to deciding about your relationship. All you can do is communicate with your husband, listen to yourself, and decide whether your relationship is worth saving or not.
Loss of emotional connection
Emotional connection is a key to healthy and lasting relationships. If you feel distant with your husband, discuss your feelings with him openly. Learn to air out your emotions in a clear and concise way. Be willing to listen to his perspective too without assuming you are to blame for his actions.
Commit to healing as a couple, if needed
If you decide that you want to stay with him, you both need to commit to the healing process. Try to abandon feelings of blame and anger and move forward as a couple. Moving on together is a reassurance for the partner who was betrayed and an encouragement for the partner who was unfaithful. Work on creating a new foundation for your relationship. However, rebuilding trust and intimacy will take time.
Give your relationship time
Even if you feel ready to forgive your husband, you should know that it will take time to regain the old feelings of trust and love. Even if you both are determined to make it work, it can take a long time for things to get back to ‘normal’ again. This is natural. But, if you try to rush things along, you may run into trouble.
Future together will not be same
If you decide to reconcile with your husband, your future relationship will be different from what you previously had. You might never be able to forget what he had done to you but you can improve your relationship. Your newfound trust can bring a different sort of contentment to your life.
Know when it is over
If you just cannot see yourself forgiving your husband or moving forward with him, then it may be time to end the relationship. Do not be upset for not being able to forgive him, even if he has been working hard to regain your trust. Some acts are just unpardonable. Decide and move on.
It is your life and only you should have a control of it. Whatever you decide, I hope it is the best choice for you and your baby. My prayers are with you.
Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.
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