My Imperfectly Perfect Marriages

Posted On: April 1, 2020

It’s actually been 9 years since I separated from my second ex-husband. All through these years, I’ve been hesitant and afraid of the question: “How can you call yourself a relationship/ sexuality coach/ counselor when you yourself have two ‘failed’ marriages?”

It was precisely my fear of such a question that made me hang on and suffer in that toxic relationship longer than I should have. What would people think? Eventually I realised staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons would destroy me – and I won’t be any good to anybody anyway. I owe it to my clients to do my best work and be my best self at all times. To not do what I support my clients to do (being authentic) would make me a hypocrite.

I wasn’t a coach yet when I met my 2nd husband. I didn’t know how to detect the signs of a toxic relationship. I didn’t possess the training to deal with the multiple issues he had including being a chronic depressive, narcissist, and having undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.

Eventually even though I did receive more training and knowledge and things could have been better, nothing fundamentally would change about him. He would still blame everybody for anything bad that happens in his life, but never taking any responsibility and ownership. I honestly don’t think anything or anyone could have “saved” that marriage.

Many people don’t ask this question out of spite or malice. They ask because they felt safe enough with me to get real – and ask this deeply personal question. They probably just want my reassurance that I am the right person who can help them.

This has been my answer: “It is precisely because my two marriages failed that I went and got all this knowledge that I now have. Now, I use everything that I’ve learned to help my clients so they don’t have to go through what I did.”

I don’t have to, but sometimes I add this sentence, “Forgive me but I am not perfect….” At that point, we all relax, have a bit of a laugh, and move on.

In a society (especially an Asian one) when:

  • We talk about people who are divorced as being in “failed relationships” and hence had “failed” as persons…
  • The longevity of a relationship is confused as a sign of a successful relationship…
  • It is common for relationship speakers to be introduced as being “experts” and “in a successful marriage” even though they have no credentials other than being a long marriage…
  • A family nucleus is always one with father and mother/ man and woman only…
  • “Moving on” means being in another relationship/ marriage… it is no wonder that divorce and the aftermath is so devastating.

I’ve been called “ahead for my time”, a “trailblazer”, a “role model”, “successful”, “a powerhouse”, blah, blah. I never set out to “fail” so successfully in my marriages – and in so doing, become another kind of trailblazer. That’s just the public persona. People who don’t know me can assume things about me. I don’t care for titles/ fame/ fortune – I care about doing my best work, and helping as many people as I can.

In my private and personal life, it’s been on an absolute need-to-know basis – and it’s time for all this to come more to the light. My divorces – this “blip”/ “disaster”/ “failing”, has made me go deeper into learning about who I was, what I stood for, and what was truly important. If not for these imperfectly perfect soulmate marriages, I wouldn’t be wise beyond my years. I wouldn’t be able to process all the pain, tears, sorrows, outbursts, even occasional abuse from clients over the past years. I have this ability and capacity to hold space and still love because I’ve been through much, much, much worse. I would even say I’ve been to and through hell several times and back. Nothing scares me now.

I have a strength that wouldn’t exist if not for the fires I’ve gone through. As I mature, I’ve learned that strength rooted on stubbornness can be futile. I’ve come to appreciate how to flow like water, and be light in my approach like the wind. At times, doing less or nothing is doing, and saying nothing speaks volumes. I’m learning. May all be well.

For relationship and sexuality coaching/ counseling, hire me!

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.

She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in May 2018. In practice for more than 10 years, she is the only certified sexuality educator and certified sexuality educator supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.

Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She has published four books: Love, Sex and Everything In-BetweenOrgasmic YogaFrom Princess to Queen and {Un}Inhibited.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.

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