Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] Leaving my serial cheater of a husband

Margarita Holmes
[Two Pronged] Leaving my serial cheater of a husband
'I’m always bothered and emotionally disturbed. Sometimes, I lose focus on myself.'

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 about my husband who is a certified cheater. The problem is I can no longer believe him because I know he is lying all the time. I don’t know how to handle all these situations. We’ve been married 11 years but still he keeps on cheating.

I’ve done my part as a wife and all the responsibilities. I’m a full time housewife and a hands on mom. I want to go back to my parents but we have misunderstandings right now because of my husband.

What should I do? Please help me. I want to ask your opinion regarding my situation. I’m always bothered and emotionally disturbed. Sometimes, I lose focus on myself.

Thank you very much and more power.


Dear Pat,

Thank you for your email.

For almost its entire history, marriage was a transactional matter: the bride got a man to protect and take care of her and her future children while the man got a potential mother for his future children and the closest to certain knowledge available at the time that any resultant children were his and he could thus safely appoint them his heirs.

In the mid 20th century, love was inserted into the equation and suddenly a spouse is now no longer a partner in a transaction but supposed to be a lover, best friend, ideal parent, closest confidant, emotional companion, and intellectual equal. 

At the same time, we currently live in an era where we feel entitled to pursue our desires and also deserve to be happy. In fact, psychotherapist Ester Perel says: “whereas to leave a marriage was once shameful, now staying in an unhappy marriage is the ‘new’ shame.”

With this background, how should you handle serial philandery? The answer seems to depend on your view of your husband, marriage, your parents, and your alternatives for the future.

You have not provided us with much information about your situation. You describe your husband as a certified cheater and a liar, but presumably he has some good points or at least used to since you chose to marry him. On balance what you say indicates that he would be an excellent ex-husband.

As for marriage, you are silent. There are many wives (and husbands) who tolerate infidelity for what they consider the greater good – the family unit, or wealth and social status, a welcome reduction in sexual demands, or the belief that this is a burden that a deity has chosen to place on their shoulders for the expiation of sins or a smoother passage to eternal life, for example. Some unfortunately do not have a choice, typically for lack of resources or because of coercion.

Pat, you say that you want to leave and return to your parents. You mention misunderstandings because of your husband but give no hint what these may be. The implication is that they are more than misunderstandings if they prevent your return home, but perhaps this is not so. Is your parents’ house your only option if you decide to leave?

In the final analysis, you have to decide whether there are sufficient merits to your marriage to be able to turn a blind eye to any cheating.

Finally, it may be worth remembering that you and your husband are the primary role models for your children, whether your marriage continues or ends. How you conduct yourselves, both as individuals and as a couple, will have a lasting influence on them. Please write again if there is anything else you want to explore.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear Pat,

Thank you very much for your letter. Please tell me if my reading of your marriage is accurate. You are emotionally disturbed, unable to focus on yourself, because you no longer know how to handle your husband’s constant cheating and you want out.   

A possible solution would be to move in with your parents, but right now (or perhaps ever) this is not a good idea. The good news, dearest Pat, is that, instead of doing all sorts of things to get your husband to change, you have decided to focus on yourself and do what needs to be done. Bravo!

You now realize that you do not need your husband for your own well being (thus making it easier for you to be an even better mother).  You can now focus on how best to achieve your goal of living without him. 

Yes, sometimes you may cry for what was not to be, but at least you will no longer wonder if leaving him was the right move. You know that it is, you just don’t know how to go about it.

Your first option, moving to your parents, will not work right now, or possibly never. But other options might. 

Please hang on to that? That way, perhaps it will be easier for you to focus on what you can do now (or in the near future) rather than berating yourself for what could have been.

True, some of your plans cannot happen just yet — you may need more money, some skills training, etc — but they are, at least, realistic goals that will depend primarily on you and not on someone else’s behavior or good will.

Besides, that will mean you can already take steps now — or the first few among the many things that need to be done before you can make your final exit — and doing is so much better than just bewailing your fate.

Many women have found themselves in situations similar to yours and would love sharing their experiences. If you think that might help, please write to us again. 

All the best,

MG Holmes 


Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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