Moms, what do you do when you begin developing a strong ‘undercurrent of unhappiness’ in your marriage? This mom needs your advice. Read on and share your thoughts.
I met my then boyfriend (now husband) 11 years ago. When I met him, he had a daughter from a previous relationship. I was okay with that. More so because he assured me that it was over between him and the girl’s mother.
We got married and had our daughter who turns 7 this year, and later a son, aged 3 years.
Their older half-sister is 13 years old. My husband and her mother have a co-parenting agreement, which sees the girl (let’s call her Janelle) come over to our house on some weekends and during the holidays. Janelle is a well-behaved young girl whose siblings always look forward to her coming home.
I can’t say that her mom and I are ‘friends’ as such, but we are cordial. All things considered, we get along pretty much OK and have a mature relationship. She is a banker, not married and does not have another child.
There is something however that has been bothering me over the years, and which continues to cause great strain between my husband and I.
There’s this thing about school. Janelle attends a good school located in one of Nairobi’s leafy suburbs. He pays 100% of her school fees, which is approximately Sh90,000 per term. Add the extra-curricular activities and it comes to about Sh110,000.
When I was scouting for a school our daughter, I selected a good school within good proximity of where we live, and the school fees came to about Sh46,000 per term.
When we were dating, we had agreed on the expenses that we would share. He had clearly stated that rent, school fees and utility bills would be taken care of by him. I would deal with the house shopping, food and groceries, house girl salary, kid’s clothes, shoes and other such expenses. We would also save a certain amount each month in a joint account.
So when I presented to him the Sh46,000 school fees for our daughter, he expressed shock at how expensive that was, saying I needed to look for a cheaper school, within the range of Sh25,000 per term.
Honestly, I was taken aback.
I know his salary and I’m well aware of all his financial responsibilities, and I know that he would be able to afford the Sh46,000 per term for our daughter. We talked about it for weeks -and months, but he remained adamant.
The most he would pay was Sh25,000. End of story.
His options were either I look for a cheaper school in the estate, or I top up the additional amount if I insisted on that school. The estate schools are not bad, but certainly not the kind that I envisioned our children going to. I myself attended good schools, so I didn’t see why I shouldn’t give my children either the same or better.
Anyway, I enrolled our daughter in the school. He pays the Sh25,000 he said he would, and I top up the rest. I also pay for her ballet and tennis club activities, which come to Sh7,000 per term. Even those he refused to pay for.
When our son joins school next year, he has indicated that we will maintain the same arrangement, “Because you are the one who has decided to take them to an expensive school” as he repeatedly tells me.
Sometimes, it’s not even as much as the words he says, but how he says them. In a very spiteful and patronizing manner. It hurts me deep.
When it comes to vacations, while he doesn’t go on holiday with Janelle and her mom, he does contribute towards their holiday costs. They go on vacation about twice a year. Last year they went to Dubai and Watamu.
When it comes to our family vacations, he says that if I really want to go on holiday, then I have to pay for the expenses because he has no money.
Illness and School Functions
Whenever Janelle is unwell, he literally drops all he’s doing to attend to her, even asking for permission at work to take her to hospital.
He also attends all her school activities – PTA meetings, sports days, open days, concerts etc. He actually applies for leave on these days so that he can be present for her functions.
Does he do the same for his other children? No. He tells me to go. Only when I insist and literally beg him to, saying that it’s important for our daughter to see him participate in her school activities does he come -albeit reluctantly. It makes me feel so desperate.
Coming Home Early from Work
Whenever Janelle is at home with us, he is home by 6pm and if it is on weekends, he doesn’t go anywhere so that he can spend enough time with her. On such days, all three children usually have so much fun with him – painting, drawing, coloring, kicking ball, playing chess and doing other fun dad-child-sibling activities. On the rest of the days when Janelle isn’t home, he comes home at about 9pm daily, extending these hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
Church on Sunday
On Sundays, he doesn’t bother going to church, choosing to sleep all day instead. But whenever Janelle is around, he causes a ruckus on Sunday mornings, waking the entire household up so that we cannot be a minute late for church service.
One day, my daughter asked me why daddy only goes to church when Janelle is around, and not on the other Sundays. She’s beginning to notice things, I’m afraid.
These are just some of the few instances that really leave me feeling down in the dumps. There are many many others that I haven’t mentioned. But it’s the same trend. He goes over and above for Janelle but won’t do the same for the two younger children.
Dear moms, at what point do you stop insisting on the father of your children to be more present in their lives?
I have tried talking to him many times, but aside from saying that I’m nagging him, he adds that our children are ‘lucky’ because they live with both parents. He argues that he must pay special attention to Janelle because she lives in a single-parent home.
Is that enough justification though?
I don’t feel happy. I just feel that while he is willing to invest so much in his eldest daughter, he doesn’t feel the same for his other children. I feel as though I’m a single parent, though married. It is a resentment that has been brewing in me, and I feel that it is germinating into something that will not end well.
I’m gradually developing strong feelings of resentment towards him especially now that the children are growing and beginning to see the subtle prejudice between his behavior when Janelle is around and the other times.
I keep asking myself – Is this it? Is this what I’m supposed to deal with for the rest of my life? Is this how my life will be in this union? Is there any other option or is this really it?
I have nothing against Janelle because she is without fault. Plus she is a good girl and I’m always happy to have her around in our home.
Problem is with my husband. Because he doesn’t see like what I say regarding his behavior is a problem. Because you can’t change somebody who sees no problem in what you are perceiving to be a problem.
Or am I overreacting? Moms, what advise would you give me? Especially those who have ever been in this kind of situation?”
What do you think about this mom’s situation? Do you have something to say about it? Comment down below on your thoughts.
If you have a story that you would like to share with other women/moms, you can email it to me on firstname.lastname@example.org