(As told to Priya Chaphekar)
Once married, most Indian men I know prefer to drink with their boy gang or office colleagues. I was one of them. You see, it’s all rainbows and unicorns during the dating phase. You are more than happy to accept each other’s habits, even when they don’t appeal to you. But once you’re married, two versatile personalities are fused into one spiritless individual. Something similar happened to me.
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Not many married people think that their spouse can actually be their best drinking buddy. But surprisingly, a study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences states that couples in which both partners drank – and those in which both abstained – reported less trouble in their marriages. For now, we’ll keep the abstinence aside.
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We didn’t have much in common
You see, it’s not about how much you drink, it’s about whether you drink at all. My wife and I started dating a decade ago. She was the highly intellectual one, fascinated with academic pursuits, and I was the nomad who loved to explore mountains. While our friends couldn’t stop fussing over the ‘opposites attract’ theory, I always wondered if having some things in common would be a better recipe for attraction. Nevertheless, we got married. Although we had our differences, I was quite drawn to her homeliness and the way she took care of my family. In the course of time, I sacrificed my solo expeditions and kissed goodbye to the good Old Monk.
To tell you the truth, I’m someone who wants to live life to the fullest, which also means I love my alcohol. There’s nothing as peaceful as getting into bed with a glass of wine and a good book. Although my wife didn’t quite appreciate this regimen, she kept quiet. The tension, however, intensified after we had kids. She didn’t spare a single opportunity to accuse me of being a good-for-nothing father. She glared at me when my friends insisted I had to make cocktails at a house party. I felt like I was committing some kind of sin.
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So I began making excuses and going out – sometimes to the club or at an art exhibition to drink; not get drunk.
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Then I met this woman
At one such standup comedy fest, I befriended Trisha, an outwardly ornate yet so down-to-earth single girl in the maximum city. A wine connoisseur by profession, Trisha invited me to tag along on one of her vineyard trips. I instantly agreed.
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Lest I’m beginning to sound desperately alcoholic, I want to clarify that I only fancy my tipple. And the reason alcohol is frowned upon is because a majority of men still consider drinking as a manly act. So many families have been shattered because of alcohol abuse and domestic violence is rampant in the bourgeoisie and proletariat in equal measures. While the men drink, women are only supposed to dish out fried cashews and onions from the kitchen.
I know a friend who is scared to drink because she associates drinking with violence. It takes her back to the dreadful night when her father abused her mother while she peeped through the keyhole, trembling with fear. I also know women who form kitty parties just to experiment with spirits and unleash their wild side. It’s a matter of perspective.
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Our interests match
Over the years, Trisha and I fell in love. I believe it was more to do with our coinciding social and leisure interests. The alcohol was the cherry on the top. Madly in love, we, I confess, have had the most amazing days and nights. After spending seven years trying to woo a woman who kept getting irritated with me, who was never satisfied with what I did for her, who never made an effort to sustain the shrivelling plant of our relationship, I gave up for good. Under the pretext of work, we began spending the afternoons watching movies, evenings having intellectual conversations and nights cuddling in bed.
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Maybe my wife and I could never warm up to each other. The jagged ends of our jigsaw just didn’t fit, even as we ripped the edges while trying to put the pieces together. I often hear the loud siren of the moral police, but I don’t really care. It’s one life and if you don’t spend that with the person you dreamed of being with, what’s the point of it all?