(As told to Bindiya Kothari)
We had it all, and then he strayed
I am Vandana. Now in my 40s, I have a “husband” and two children. We have a beautiful life – a nice house, lovely children, promising careers and a great circle of friends. All is great, except one little thing – the love has gone out of our spousal relationship.
It is difficult to say how Anand, my husband, strayed. Ours was a love match; both of us loved each other to bits before we took the plunge and got married. He had always been an ideal husband – indulging every whim of mine, pleasing all the people who mattered, extremely social and a very desirable daamaadji. But some time after our second child, he began losing interest, in me, in our relationship and the inevitable happened soon – he began an extramarital affair.[restrict] Things dragged on year after year as he moved from one fling to the next, and I clung on, hoping for the day he’d return. That day has so far not come, and I am tired of holding on, waiting eternally and hopelessly.
I’d always got on well with his family
Since the beginning of our marriage, I have had very cordial relations with all his family – so far as to even include distant uncles, aunts and cousins. My understanding with my mother-in-law was very sound; we had a warm relationship. When the truth came out, they stood behind me staunchly, and assured me of all support that I needed. While that was certainly a relief, nobody except the spouse truly understands what one goes through when the other cheats on her/him.
There have been times when, despite having everyone on my side, I have found myself desperately lonely; no one could truly know my pain. That is the nature of pain, isn’t it? Nobody except the sufferer truly knows the feeling. So this pain has become my barrier. It is insurmountable and my heart is being crushed under its weight. This one battle is so demanding and exhausting that I have become almost warrior like; all feelings in me are dead.
And so are also dead the feelings of love I harboured for Anand’s family. Duty and obligation have replaced love and affection.
Duty and obligation have replaced love and affection.
I no longer care – not for Anand, not for his parents, nor for his extended family. And this feeling of apathy is becoming more and more apparent with time. I do not care to hide or conceal it. It affects the manner in which I speak to these people, the way I listen (or not) and in my responses to familial obligations.
They do support me, but it isn’t enough
It is not that the immediate family does not understand; they do. In her feelings of empathy for my condition, my mother-in-law has often ignored my callousness, rudeness and harshness to still reassure me. Like I have lost my husband, she has lost her son; and we share the grief of this loss. But we have been parted; it is as though an invisible barrier separates us. Her pain no longer bothers me; I have too much of my own. In my bitterness, I hold them responsible somehow, for deficient upbringing that shaped him to become what he has. I do not know how justified I am in doing that.
So for a while now, I am far from enthusiastic about family dinners, get-togethers, celebrations and so on. I no longer find it my duty to step in for him for social obligations. If an uncle is unwell, I really do not feel like calling on him on Anand’s behalf; if he does not bother about his own uncle, do I need to? Why do I need to attend family get-togethers without Anand, and always make excuses for his absence? I am tired of playing this game. So I prefer to skip such events altogether.
Related reading: Surviving the dark days of a marriage
He was never expected to oblige my relatives
Are my actions and feelings justified? Am I being mean-minded by not fulfilling the duties of a good daughter-in-law? I do not know, maybe I do not care to know. I cannot bring myself to change, to care at this moment. But one thing does soothe me – I am sure such considerations do not dog Anand, when it comes to my relatives. He does not discharge any moral obligations towards my family, nor was he ever expected to. That is the glaring discrimination that really angers me – being constantly judged for every action as a daughter-in-law, while he is spared the exacting glances, words and opinions.
As I look ahead, the only hope I see for our relationship is the children growing up, moving out and becoming self-supporting. After that, my duties as a parent also reduce. Then, maybe, I’ll have a life again![/restrict]