[Two Pronged] Should I pick my ex-husband or my boyfriend?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
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 just want to ask something. I'm married for 9 years with 1 child. Way back 2010, we separated because my husband cheated on me when I was working abroad. I decided to go back home to see what would happen. One week after we talked, we decided to separate.
I tried my very best to save the marriage but it wasn't working at all. My husband dumped me. For me, that was the hardest part because that was my first time to experience to be dumped.
I worked again abroad just to let him know that I'm not worthless. Thank God I made it. Now I'm here in Canada. It's been 4 years that we've been separated. We have on and off communication until July of this year. My ex hubby sent me a message, saying he wants to borrow our daughter.
I was shocked about this because for 4 years, he never communicate with our child – no financial help, no hello at all – and then suddenly he's asking to borrow her. Our child was 9 years old when we separate. Last month, when we talked with my ex hubby, all my questions from 2010 were answered.
We had a long talk. My feelings towards him are still the same but my mind say it should not be the same because of what happened to us. To be honest, it's really difficult to win back the trust. I'm in a long distance relationship now. We've been dating for 3 months but he's been very good and consistent as well.
Now, I just want to ask from you: what can I do now about my husband. He wants me again and now my present boyfriend doesn't deserve to treated like this. It's unfair for him, right? My heart says my hubby but my mind say my present boyfriend.... Can you give me some advice on how to make this?
Thank you for your email.
You say that you separated from your husband (let’s call him Nat) 9 years ago because he cheated and then again 4 years ago because he dumped you despite your best efforts to save the marriage. Now he wants to “borrow” your daughter with whom he has had no contact since you separated. This has initiated a dialogue in which all your questions from 2010 have been answered (unfortunately we have no idea what these are since you fail to tell us, nor do we know if the answers are positive or negative). Apparently “it’s really difficult to win back the trust” but you are in an LDR with him and he is being “very good and consistent," whatever that means. Now, since you are having simultaneous relationships with your boyfriend (presumably in Canada) and your husband, you want to know whether to go back to your husband or stay with your boyfriend.
What you have told us about Nat is not encouraging. He is a womanizer and a father with zero interest in his daughter except as a bargaining chip in his negotiations with you. Yet he must have some saving graces because you are contemplating a future with him despite his abysmal track record. But how are we to do as you request and judge whether Nat is a better bet than your current boyfriend when you have told us nothing good about Nat and nothing at all about your boyfriend?
Perhaps a better question would be: Nat or no Nat? On the evidence, it is extremely difficult to make a case for getting back together with Nat, a man with no redeeming qualities at all. You have left him twice already and it seems perverse to consider a reconciliation unless there are other factors at play, which you haven’t revealed.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter, although I am worried you may not thank us very much for our answers. I am hoping, however, that after thinking about things for a while, you might find merit in some of the concerns we’ve brought up.
You have had no closure with your relationship with your husband, as evidenced by your above statements like:
- "That was my first time to experience to be dumped.” and
- 2. “ To make the story short so I work again abroad just to let him know that I'm not worthless.” These emotions still seem to carry on even now, after all these years.
There are so many ways to achieve closure in a relationship. For example, your telling yourself: “How very silly of me,! Still wanting to prove myself to this nobody!”
That realization could be followed by the question: Is THAT why I convinced myself his ‘answering all my questions’ from 2010 is good enough? A nine year gap between Q and A is quite a long gap… enough to make up answers more palatable to you.
It’s true that he is very good to you now, but anyone can seem good after 3 months. Hells bells, anyone can seem good after 6, even 12 months especially when trying to win back a woman a man has been despicable to. This is why many therapists suggest at least a 2-year engagement when getting married. It’s a little more difficult to be consistently respectful of you, or even nice to the waiter, for 24 rather than 3 months (or even 6 or 12).
Finally, you ask about your boyfriend. I am glad you have a good relationship with him but at the moment, he is a non entity... the way I wish your husband were too.
Now seems a good time to focus on what you and your daughter already have in your lives and what else you may need so that any man who enters your life might be first considered seriously and then, if likely to pass the test, NOT accepted solely based on need.
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.