Thanks so much for the good job that you have been doing. I am 26. I was orphaned at a very young age and grew up in an orphanage, an experience that I would not like to re-live. Over the years, a feeling of emptiness has come over me, and I feel unappreciated and lonely. Many times, I wish I was adopted and wish I had someone I could call ‘mum’. Although I have found a good church to go to, there is still a vacuum in me that I don’t know how to deal with that keeps me from forming relationships.
I have replied, in this column, to a couple of questions similar to yours.
An article in The New York Times, (2013) says: “If a son or daughter who loses a mother never receives adequate substitute mothering, the loss can do long-term damage to his or her self-esteem, ability to relate to other people, overall feelings of security and ability to trust others.”
God intended for children to receive the loving care of both parents for holistic growth – the place of parents in the life of a child is irreplaceable, and a child that grows up without a parent is bound to have some challenges.
Being orphaned must have had its share of negative experiences however, that space provided you the opportunity to mature to the person you are today.
It is important that you learn to make peace with the good and bad that you experienced.
Refuse to allow the negative experiences that you went through to define you.
Getting yourself spiritual mentors from church may be the right place to start.
Your pastor can guide you on how to go about this.
My estranged wife won’t let me see my daughter
Two months ago, my wife packed her clothes and some house items and left with our daughter, who is three years old, and who joined school at the beginning of the year. We agreed that I would support them, and in return, she would let me spend time with my daughter, whom I love very much. She however has not fulfilled her end of the bargain, and so I have not seen my daughter for the past two months. This has really affected me such that even my bosses and colleagues have noticed that there is something bothering me. I am not interested in knowing where she moved to or what she does with her life, I have accepted the breakup and came to terms with her even moving on with another man, but is it lawful to prevent me from seeing my daughter?
From the surface, separation or divorce may appear harmless and seem to grant the desired relief from all that could be hurting the marriage.
However, studies (and counsellors), are all in agreement concerning the negative effect that divorce or separation have on the couple and the children involved.
Even when the separation is amicable, there is still some pain involved.
When couples go separate ways, the aggrieved person may experience much-needed relief, but there are negative effects that are bound to crop up, like you have experienced.
Most couples fail to consider the emotional pain of the parting, more so on the children.
The social attachment God created within the family institution means that it will take time for those involved to adjust to the new living circumstances, the children especially.
Even in cases where they manage to adjust to their new life without one parent, some children end up looking for their absent parent in adulthood.
It is clear that you love your daughter, so I imagine that just like you are, she too is acutely feeling the loss that emanated from you and your wife’s separation.
From your email, you have come to terms with your your broken marriage and are not looking for reconciliation.
What you need to come to terms with is the fact that even though you are no longer together, you and the mother of your child need some form of relationship for the sake of your child.
You therefore need to reach out to her and have a serious talk.
If she continues to deny you the right to see your child, (it is your right) there are legal ways to resolve this.
A less confrontational way is always best, but if it doesn’t work, you have no option but to take the matter before the court.
That man’s wife is the one cheating
I thank you for the advice you recently gave to the man that had been accused of infidelity by his wife. He wrote that despite his efforts to convince his wife that he was faithful to her, she wouldn’t listen, something that really pained him. When I read that man’s email, my feeling was that it was the man’s wife that was cheating on him. I would advise this man to investigate his wife. In some cases, some spouses make false accusations to hide their own sins. I believe this is the strategy this poor man’s wife has taken.
A very interesting perspective indeed. It is true that some people create chaos in their relationships because it gives them freedom and space to do whatever they want; they keep the other person focused on the unnecessary conflict or confusion while they fool around.
Unfortunately, a relationship can never thrive in chaos, and so, most probably, the person inventing these chaos does not care for the relationship.
Should he investigate her? That is up to him, but I would advise him to determine what he will gain from what he discovers.
Suspicion and mistrust in a relationship can cause great pain, therefore, I would advise a couple in such a situation to look for ways to manage the conflict rather go on the offensive.
Three issues are key for a vibrant and healthy marriage:
1. Disclosure that is unhindered by inhibitions of fear, manipulation or coercion;
2. Responsible behaviour and accountability for one’s actions;
3. Agreement: This is the oil that every healthy relationship needs.
In fact, it is okay to agree to disagree. No one expects you to be 100 per cent in agreement.
I recently read somewhere that as long as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone – I believe this includes those we don’t trust or are not in agreement with.
I need help but I am afraid to share my problem
I am a great fan of your column and appreciate the effort you make to help people with relationship problems. I have a problem that has been nagging me for a while now, and feel it is time that I get some advice to help me resolve it. My worry however, is that though I urgently need help, I feel that publishing my predicament is not right. How do I go about this?
There are people who share their problems with me via email and request anonymity.
In this case, we may publish the issue and use a fictitious name.
Our desire is that others may learn from the experiences of others.
As you have pointed out, many have benefitted from this column.
My take is that if you desire help, then you must overcome the enemy of fear – the first thing that couples who come to me for counselling have to get out of the way is fear, otherwise nothing will be achieved.
Once you overcome fear, you are able to open up your hurt and freely speak about what may be giving you sleepless nights.
I advise that you identify why you feel apprehensive and ask yourself what is the worst that could possibly happen if you let forth your hurt.
The truth is, a wound that is regularly undressed, cleaned and dressed again will keep infection at bay and heal faster.
Should you choose to share your problem, we will leave your name out.