From The Straits Times    |

Got a personal dilemma that’s stressing you out? In Dear Therapist, trauma expert Natalia Rachel untangles your knottiest issues and answers your burning questions about life, love, and everything in between. If you have a question, you can email us at or slide into our DMs at @herworldsingapore on Instagram.

Dear Therapist,

I discovered my husband’s affair through messages. I confronted him, and he confessed.

He informed the kids himself, but he’s still torn between me and his co-worker after a few weeks.

Despite his love for our teens, he stated in front of the family that he can’t continue with me. Some friends think I pressured him into that decision.

I still love him, as he was a good husband, and this sudden situation is shocking. I confronted him because I couldn’t share him. Now, I wonder why he chose her, considering she so much younger, someone else’s wife and a mother. What should I do next?

I would also like to add that I have always told others I am a happy wife who is blessed to have married him and happily married till this episode.

From, Suddenly Shocked

Dear Suddenly Shocked

Finding out your husband is having an affair through messages is incredibly shocking.

When we are in shock, we will often enter survival mode. When it comes to finding out about an affair, there are three common survival responses that may follow:
1) Avoidance

 We bury our head in the sand, close one eye and continue hoping for the best.

2) Fight

We may express our feelings by yelling, blaming, shaming and argument.

3) Ultimatum

We may try to equalise the situation with a ‘me or them’ black or white ultimatum.

Oftentimes, our shock-fuelled survival responses don’t lead us to the outcome we really want.

Ultimatums often push people to choose to let go, leave, or choose the option where they are not feeling pushed into a corner, or controlled.

Control and power are often at the heart of so much relationship conflict, particularly in long term marriages, where gender roles, children, cultural norms, expectations, and so much relational history are at play. While this never justifies infidelity, it can be helpful to explore it to better understand the greater context of the relationship.

Rather than question your friend’s sentiments, or wonder why your husband would choose another woman, I encourage you to explore the theme of control and power in your relationship.

Some questions you may ask yourself include:

  • Who holds the power in the relationship?
  • What kind of burdens are we each experiencing?
  • Has there been a sense of transactional relating going on? (i.e., if you do x, I will do why/if you don’t do a, I won’t do b)

This inquiry may open some mutual areas for conversation and exploration, which is always the path to connection and greater intimacy (whether you stay married or not, you will always be co-parents).

Remember, everyone outside your marriage will have their own opinion based on their own beliefs and survival strategies. At this moment in your marriage, the most important thing is to get honest with yourself and each other about what’s been lacking, what you both desire and what you are both committed to offering each other. The answers will become clearer when we are ready to listen to those things that have gone unsaid of unheard for the longest time.

Wishing you strength and self-care as you walk this next part of your journey.

Natalia Rachel

Natalia Rachel is the founder of Illuma Health, author of Why Am I Like This, and a trauma expert

Disclaimer: The Dear Therapist column is for informational purposes only. The advice given does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.