[Two Pronged] My husband, the bigamist
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr Baer,
I don’t know what to do. We have no problems in our relationship, but after 3 years, I just found out that our marriage is invalid because he’s been married before.
But this woman is not in his life, not even in text or email (I checked). She is in America. This was a secret marriage they had and then he had another relationship after she left for America. What hurts me is that he did not tell me the truth. I heard it from someone else.
We’re married for 3 years and wala siyang sinabi (he said nothing). I love him very much, but I find it so hard. My trust has gone. We have two children, 2 years and 1 year old.
My husband works as a brand manager in Indonesia so I cannot speak to him well. I do not really want to have to hire a lawyer because of the stress.
Please help me,
It must be devastating to find that your husband (let’s call him Bill) is married to someone else and yet went through a sham marriage with you without ever mentioning it. To say that your “trust has gone” is probably putting it mildly.
Now in situations like yours, people frequently reach for the nearest lawyer either to exact the maximum pain on the person who has wronged them or at the very least to have a clearer idea what their options are in the eyes of the law. Of course resorting to legal proceedings is neither fast nor cheap and can be immensely stressful, so your desire to avoid lawyers is understandable.
Yet if you do not hire a lawyer, what are your options? You won’t really know until you have confronted Bill but one would be an amicable separation while another could be to carry on regardless of your shocking discovery.
Your letter speaks about a loss of trust but gives no clue to whether you have the resources (your own, family etc.) to go it alone with two small children. It does, however, speak about love for Bill and no problems in your relationship – until this bombshell.
Many men and women are prepared to put up with serious challenges in their relationships e.g. infidelity, gambling, drinking, living with the in laws from hell etc. rather than walk away. Either they believe they have no alternatives or those that they do have are worse in their eyes. One such person even told us that marriage to her wayward husband was a burden to be accepted because it was placed on her shoulders by God (reasoning that this agnostic found dubious in the extreme but which gave her the strength to persist in her marriage against all the odds).
Whether to stay or leave is a decision which only you can weigh in the light of all your circumstances. Please write again if there are further aspects you would like us to consider. All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. This is yet another time that I disagree with my co-columnist above. I think it is partly because by training, Jeremy Baer is a banker and bankers are not encouraged to be forgiving.
On the other hand, as a clinical psychologist, I am trained to be the milk of human kindness (well, at least to the people who need to be treated kindly). I am not sure if your husband Bill belongs to this category, despite Mr. Baer’s feelings that his behavior was devastating and thus makes you feel that “my trust has gone.” He should have told you beforehand, no doubt about that. But we fallible people are, well, fallible and oftentimes should be forgiven our mistakes…perhaps unless the one expected to do the forgiving is a banker who will foreclose on your house in less than a New York minute.
But, in addition to your marriage being invalid, you also mention that you love him very much and, in the three years you’ve been married, you have had no (really big) problems. SO…this is what I suggest:
If you can manage it ask – rather than confront him – about his previous marriage. I suggest the ask—rather than the confront – approach since what you want is an honest reply and not one that is a knee jerk reaction to being attacked. However, I also realize that you are the wronged party, which is why I tempered my suggestion with “if you can manage it.”
Depending on the way he answers — maybe give him some time because his initial reaction to being caught out in a lie will not necessarily be his final stance on the matter — you can decide whether to try strengthening your marriage further, ending it then and there, or waiting a while longer before actually deciding.
You see, I tend to agree with Bob Marley who once said: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
Ultimately, you need to make the final decision, Beth. Given all you know of Bill and all you will know after you ask him about his past, is he worth suffering for (and also living a long life with) or not?
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.