Dear Uncle Mat

I am a 45-year-old lady working for one of the biggest media houses in Kenya. There is this man I met in Nairobi some years back, and I have two kids from him. I have money and do not have other kids. We are legally married. This man had another wife from whom he was separated when we met. He has since reconciled with her and has actually brought her to Nairobi, but in a different house from mine. He considers himself married to two lovely wives. He did not consult me when he brought his first wife. He alternates between the two of us, and I cannot stomach this any more. The woman has five grown-up kids, all over 18 years old, two from other men and three from this man. My kids are relatively young, as the last-born is 7 years old. This man is a liar and can tell the smallest lies to anybody, including to the kids and me. As a result, I get frustrated and tell him nasty things, such as that he has no morals to leave to his descendants and that he is rotten. Whenever we have differences, he runs to the other wife, who does not seem to mind the mistreatment. Recently, he was assigned duties outside his workstation and went without telling me. I was embarrassed when I called the office and his work-mates, who know me, told me he was out. I felt mistreated and unloved. I love this man, but he mistreats me a lot. I honestly do not want to leave him. Please help me on how to cope with him. I feel too frustrated by his behavior. 

— Frustrated by an Unloving Husband

Dear Frustrated,

First off, is this for real? Kenya? I know I am on the internet, and a Google away from anyone, but I kind of hope this one is a prank. Still, I answer all letters.

I don’t know anything about cultural norms in Kenya. I assume that polygamy is legal and/or socially acceptable since your husband does not seem to be concealing his two households. Since the other woman has children from a previous relationship, I can also assume that divorce and/or separation are not the end of anyone’s life and reputation. You also are educated and have a career. Possibly this letter is an advertisement to entice disenfranchised American women to
Kenya? Especially a small compound of them living not far from San Antonio? FYI, I doubt they read my column.

By telling me that you do not wish to leave a man that you feel has a low moral character and treats you poorly, I gather you want to learn how to lower your expectations. The easiest way to accomplish this is with alcohol, but I would advise you against that path since you have children and a career to mind.

If this man and relationship are what you want, and the kids are not suffering for it, then you will have to learn to adjust your expectations. You love your husband and want to be with him no matter what; well, in this case “no matter what” has a name and five more kids.

The other way I think you might improve this situation is to approach and befriend the other wife. Don’t let her be his refuge from your relationship. Make her another facet and element within your family. You might find that the woman you perceive to be the antagonist in the situation could be your greatest ally and a solution to bringing your family back together.

Maybe you could rent or watch the TV series Big Love on the internet. I haven’t seen it, but apparently it is about a contemporary polygamist family. It might offer a viewpoint you cannot find within your own situation.

Are you sure he is what you want? Make a list of why you don’t want to leave him. If you believe it when you’re done, then fine. Take a deep breath, look at your life, and know it is the one you choose. Otherwise, move on. You have a career, two kids, and the rest of your life. It is hard to believe we can fall in love again, but it happens every day.  

Much love and new hope,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about
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