At 24 years of age, my girlfriend and I decided to live together. She was from Eastern Europe and I, from Dadar, Mumbai. We met in London, where we were both studying. After knowing each other for about three years, we started dating. By the end of our fourth and final year, we decided that we will move to the USA to get a job in a hotel and live together. We took this decision because we wanted to be sure that we could live together and marry each other in the future. We loved each other, but for a marriage to work only love does not suffice, especially when your spouse is from a completely different cultural background. So I was sure living in with my partner would make both of us more comfortable with each other.
(As told to Ajinkya Sontakke)
Why I could not tell my parents that I had a live-in relationship
While all my close friends were aware of my decision to live in with her, I could not gather the courage to tell my parents and family, so I kept them in the dark. We stayed together for one long year in Tulsa, USA. While we discussed our future together, my parents were busy getting me signed up on all matrimonial sites. I felt that my family will never understand my relationship with her because my parents, in particular, are very traditional.
They’ve always wanted me to get married in my own clan and here I was in a live-in relationship with a foreigner.
First six months of living together was awesome
The first six months of our time together in the same house was great. We were in each other’s thoughts and our relationship had everything that a newly married couple would have. We were both away from our respective families and there was never any societal pressure. The relationship only had the two of us in it and no one else. But we were both on a work visa which was going to expire soon. While we had many contingent plans, none of us had the courage to actually act upon it.
She wanted me to go back with her to her country and I wanted her to come to Mumbai. But that would have complicated too many things.
Will she ever be able to accept my parents?
As soon as I visualised her in Mumbai, I realised that she will not be able to fit into the family well. I live in a joint family and everyone thinks as ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. For her, it was too difficult as she was extremely individualistic and independent. Whenever my parents would call me, she would ask me to start distancing myself from them. Did she want me and not my parents? I wanted to marry her but I also wished she could be accepting of my conservative family.
Baby, I want new white shoes!
We had an office party one evening. She wanted to wear a white gown and in the morning she realised she did not have white shoes. For the record, she had so many pairs of shoes that she could start her own boutique. But for a party that would last for just about two hours, she wanted me to buy her brand new expensive white shoes to go with her dress. I asked, “Why don’t you pick another dress?” “What?!” she yelled and I knew it then that this conversation needed to be ended right away. So I gave in.
I wondered, if we got married, all my savings would be gone on shoes that she would wear only once.
You can’t have junk because I am on a diet
That’s right! She decided to lose weight and hence wanted to diet. I was not in the mood to lose any weight, nor was it needed. She would not allow me to eat my favourite things like ice-cream, pizza and cheese just because she was on a diet and she would get tempted to eat it if I did. I wondered if we got married will I ever be able to do what I wanted?
As the date of our visa expiry started approaching, I started to think, if we were really meant to be with each other. Her habits, her dominating nature and her self-centered attitude were too much to deal with, especially when I knew that I’d be always be living in a joint family. Living in with her gave me a preview of what my life would be – ‘a sandwiched man between family and wife’. So I took a decision to move on. I am sure, however, that not all live-in relationships have to end as mine did.