As-salamu `Alaikum dear,
You are such a wise woman and seem to have dealt with this entire situation with a great deal of compassion, patience and wisdom. Of course I cannot tell you what decision to make, but I can add some ideas to the thoughts you already have.
First, it is sad that your husband would choose one woman over his marriage and child. Many people who do this realize, years later, that they have ended up in the exact same situation they were in to begin with. There is a big difference between the beginning of a relationship and someone who is “unattainable” and a marriage with someone who is “always there”. For some reason, what a person cannot have and/or what is “new” is always more compelling. If there is a chance for him to realize this before he makes a mistake then you might want to give him some more time. Don’t make the decision for him – let him make the decision. He has created this problem, and if anyone needs to suffer the consequences and learn the lessons from it – it is him, and not you. If you make it easy, he will not learn any lessons and your divorce will be as bad as the marriage situation is now.
This may sound strange that it would be important to be concerned about what kind of divorce you would have, but consider that you have a child together so you will continue to have some kind of relationship after the marriage ends.
- Do you want his relationship with you and the child to always be convenient for him, and for him to control it because you make it easy, and you help him through his mistakes?
- Or do you want him to learn from his mistakes so even if you do get divorced he may be able to deal with your future relationship in a more mature way?
You might be able to help him learn by asking him questions about his decisions and choices rather than telling him things or arguing with him. For example, you could ask him:
“Have you considered if this is the kind of person you want to have children with and the kind of person you want to be helping you take care of your mother when she is older? A person who refuses to share (by refusing to be the second wife) may have trouble with sharing in other areas of their life too.
- Will she also refuse to share the house with your mother and relatives?
- Will she be the kind of mother who leaves her child at the daycare centers and grandparents because she is concerned about entertaining herself?”
- “Have you considered the dangers in marrying a woman who is OK with breaking up a family and having an affair?
She may be a wonderful person, but moral values are the cornerstone of a family and a relationship. Moral values are not something you have one day and don’t have the next. They are either part of you or they aren’t. Are you OK with her having these moral values and teaching them to your children and having to deal with them yourself if she meets someone else she loves more in the future?”
He may “not listen” but these questions will burn in his mind (even if he yells or pretends he is offended), and may help him to “see the light”.
Knowing her you can also think of other questions. These are important questions he needs to ask himself.
One of my clients tried to warn her husband that marrying a second wife with three children would result in many extra bills for him. She wisely observed that this second wife would want her children to have all the same benefits that his other children had. He refused to understand this and insisted that the woman’s ex-husband would take care of the children “as he should”. Of course, the ex-husband refused, and her husband ended up with endless bills and expenses that come with having three extra children. He is much stressed most of the time, and regrets his decision. So, he may not listen to you, but he would benefit from hearing what you have to say if there is any hope that he might listen.
- If you decide to ask for a divorce it must be for you, and not for him.
This is another difficult question to consider. Often times mothers or fathers say that they stay in a relationship “for the children”, but one needs to look beyond the norms of “what is good for the child,” and consider each personal situation.
- Is the situation you are in now setting a good example for your daughter as to how a marriage should be?
- Is how you are acting with your husband the way you want your daughter to act with her future husband?
- Do you want your daughter to marry someone like your husband?
By remaining in an unhealthy relationship, parents are often teaching their children to carry on their poor relationship expectations and skills. For example, many women who stay in abusive marriages are horrified when their daughters also end up in abusive relationships. Why, because the daughters have experienced this as the “norm”; and for people, it is not what is good that always attracts us, but what is “normal” that attracts us to our future mates.
You can look at your situation honestly and make a decision. Of course I do not know your situation so I am not sure what is best for your daughter. However, you can look at both sides. Perhaps even make a list. On one list write all the benefits she is gaining from you and your husband remaining married. Cross out any benefits that she would still have if you were divorced. So, for example, if one benefit was “she gets to kiss her papa at night before she sleeps every night” then this would stay on the list. But if the list includes “she gets to visit her grandmother with her papa every Sunday” this might be crossed off, because even in the case of a divorce this would probably continue.
On the second list write all the ways in which she is not benefiting from you staying together. What is she learning or seeing that you don’t want her to see or learn?
Keep in mind, as well, that you can never hide things from children. I have yet to find a family in which this has been true. Children, when they are young, “sense” the energy and sometimes overhear things or know. By the time they reach 10-12 years they definitely know what is going on. Parents often try to fight when the child is not at home, or behind closed doors or they try to hide conflict in other ways. However, you need to know that this is an illusion that parents create. Children know their parents better than anyone knows them. Children know what is happening on some level. She knows already.
I wish you the best with your decision – you probably already know in your heart what the best thing to do for you and your child is.
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