I have been in a relationship with an army officer for the last five years. He was my senior in school and we got into a relationship after two years of just being ‘friends’. He was always very sure about me, would talk to my mother about marriage and have introduced me to his family in the first few weeks of our relationship. I have seen him become a captain from a cadet; rather we have seen each other grow and evolve. Ours was a perfect love story, with a few problems now and then which we managed to get past. He was adored by everyone in my family and me by his.
Our problems began when I started to gain weight due to medical issues. He began asking me to lose weight, sometimes politely, sometimes rudely.
I would try, just to make him happy. Then came his brother’s wedding, I was to meet his whole clan, ‘with my weight’ and was very nervous, but he calmed me down saying everyone will love me for the person that I am and overlook my weight. On the D-day, everyone showered me with love and blessings… I was on cloud nine. He made me feel so special throughout the ceremony and I slept dreaming of our wedding that night.
The next day, he was supposed to leave for Kashmir. I was still in my happy bubble, but he came and said the words that burst it. He fought with me over my makeup that day, he said I looked really huge. We had an ugly fight but like always, everything settled down and we were back to normal. A few weeks later, our families decided to get us engaged in May (2017) and since then we have been fighting. He has said things which haunt me day and night: things about my weight, about how makeup doesn’t suit me, how my family is not willing to splurge on my wedding and how all his relatives were saying that I am overweight and no one liked me. I couldn’t believe my ears and told him to postpone the engagement. I said that now we will get engaged only if I lose weight and when he and his family find me good enough for him! He agreed.
Now, we are not fighting but we don’t talk like we used to. We have both changed, I am making conscious efforts to not get involved in his life deeply and to be indifferent. He is somewhat the same.
What I miss is the ‘I love yous’ before hanging up. It has stopped for the 1st time in five years.
He also doesn’t talk as much about marriage and ‘our’ life after marriage as he used to. He still calls up as much as possible but it is not the same now.
I have lost my confidence, self-esteem my self-respect. I am ashamed of myself for going back to someone who ridiculed me and my entire family, has shown no remorse and yet I find that I can’t break up with him. Probably because I have given five years to this relationship. I have lived like a wife without marriage, taking care of his family when he was posted away, listening to his over-possessive mother’s taunts and accusations without responding. I have given too much to move on and not regret it instantly. I fear that I won’t be able to get over him. I fear that my mother will have to face taunts from relatives and friends if we broke up.
Related reading: Why chasing after marriage is not a good idea
So, I try to make him end this relationship but he won’t even do that, he says that nothing has changed. But everything has changed for me.
I am unable to go on or to end it. I am trapped.
Every morning, I wake up and decide to make myself strong enough to break up with him and every night I sleep with the thought maybe I should give in and lose weight to please him and his clan. This marriage will spare my family the hundreds of questions they will have to answer if we broke up. If I get married, eventually I will forget this phase but I know that in doing so I would be giving up my individuality. I am standing at a crossroad, where whichever road I take I will have to struggle a lot to survive; whichever road I take, I lose a lot. If only, I could decide, what is worth giving up- this relationship or my voice.
Related reading: The first year of marriage
First and foremost, three cheers to this girl who penned down her dilemma as I can see so many young women pass through this cycle of wanting to continue and wanting to quit from the same relationship. This is an interesting narrative as the couple knows each other as “Individuals” for the last 5 years and their relationship has progressed over time. In relationships that gradually progress to the next level, there is a higher expectation of maturity and appreciation of each other as human beings. This is clearly not a case of love at first sight so the boy did not fall for her beauty or face or skin. So now when the stage has come to give a name and a lifelong commitment to this relationship how come all of a sudden the boy has started finding faults? So things that did not matter when in love all of a sudden are becoming serious concerns now and that too after so many years?
In my opinion “Respect” comes before “Love” in any relationship if you want to grow with the other person and live happily ever after. Respect means you believe in equality, you give space, you accept the differences, you acknowledge the fact that both are two different individuals. Understanding among couples is an outcome of respect for each other. I strongly would advise that the girl should happily quit and treat the accusations and insults as a strong signal of what life ahead is going to be! Love cannot bloom without respect and hence this is the right time to call it quits and strongly move on!
As far as losing weight and self-grooming is concerned to go ahead and do it for yourself. Lose weight because you want to not because someone has body-shamed and you are giving in to the societal norm of how a young woman should look like? Body shaming is a big evil and it kills the confidence of young men and women at a very young age. We need to accept ourselves and raise our self-esteem in order to make the world see us beyond our physical appearance. And such a lovely life you have ahead of you, do not ruin it by marrying the mistake of your life!
Dr. Falguni Vasavada-Oza is Professor of Advertising Strategy at MICA. She is a speaker, Social Media influencer and a fashion blogger advocating Body Positivity and Women Empowerment. To know more about Falguni click here