Q: I got married at 22 and have now been married for almost 20 years. Ours was a love marriage; he is a Hindu and I am a Muslim. There is almost no resistance from parents.
We met in Mumbai but he moved to Delhi shortly after. The relationship continued but by the time we married two years later he was a different person and we had problems right from the beginning-his lack of financial planning and always being broke being one of them. He made promises that he had no intention of keeping. He always put his work before me and was never around. Simple things like birthdays and anniversaries were never celebrated. I was told not to ask too many questions about his work, although we both work in the same industry. I was never supported in pursuing my career, he was not around when I was pregnant and I did all doctors’ appointments on my own, etc.
Sometime after we had been married four years and had a 2-year-old child, I realised I was being mistreated and had an affair. I had every intention of leaving my husband, when out of the blue, he got into some serious trouble with the law. I could not bring myself to kick the man in the balls when he was already in such a bad situation. During this time I also found out that he had been ‘socialising’ with prostitutes and been using the company credit card for other such ‘entertainment’ for himself and his clients. I, on the other hand, was constantly getting and leaving jobs and had no career and no independent income.
After this point, having to deal with this larger issue, we somehow slipped into a comfortable arrangement of separate bedrooms, joint finances and life carried on with a sort of ‘sham’ marriage. He also handed his finances to me to manage, however, there was not enough income and there were constant ‘surprise’ expenditures on his part as well as the income being irregular.
Money continued to be a constant source of bickering, as he would start new ventures, invest money without telling me, home budgets would dry up, then I would take up a job, then we would stabilise, then I would quit the job, then he would again ‘invest’ in something that would go bust and this cycle has been going on for almost 6-7 years now.
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Now I am 43, and it is repeating all over again. I have no interest in myself or my life. All I want is to ensure there is a decent college fund for my son, as he goes to college in 2 years, however, my husband gives me money and then takes it away, supposedly to ‘invest’ in something and we are constantly struggling to make ends meet. Needless to say I am not able to get a job or be financially independent. What should I do?
A: It’s completely normal to feel how you’re feeling. Your need for financial stability is absolutely justified.
However, your relationship seems to have been abusive from the beginning. And, you rightly said that for multiple reasons we choose to continue with an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes, for children, sometimes for money and family or society. Reasons are aplenty. And you have become comfortable in however you have arranged to live with your husband.
As far as your security goes, both financial and emotional, it’s important that you start looking after yourself and not depend on another for either. Take up any job that you deem fit. Take help from women’s websites to find yourself a job. Once you are financially independent, you may notice shifts in your thought, behaviour and personality. Second, it’s cultural how men treat their women and how women treat themselves. It may be that your husband deems it fit to ask you for the money that he gives you, etc. and uses it as he chooses to. You can learn to say no. It is your choice. Yes, you can choose to live your life on your terms.
Having said that, making certain choices in life can not only seem overwhelming, but we may not know how to do it, simply because we haven’t done it ever and it seems completely out of character for us. If that’s the case, you can take the help of a trained psychotherapist, who can help you evaluate your choices and equip you with tools and skills to execute your decisions and choices with confidence.