Q: I’m Ranjini, assistant professor at a private institute in Delhi. I got married in July 2015. My husband works in a leading car manufacturing company. We both belong to Tamil Nadu, although I grew up in Gujarat. Our marriage is broken, we’ve lived together for only 9 months. He has always been egoistic and hell-bent on supporting his parents even though he knows they have lied and what they did is wrong. Our problems began with his parents cheating during marriage by not giving the gold that they had promised. After marriage he has been spending his entire salary only on luxurious stuff for his parents and sister, while we’ve have been sleeping on the floor here. He also lied to me about an affair that he had up to saying yes to me. He had her intimate pictures stored both at home and on his laptop. When I saw them he said he forgot to throw them away/delete them. Initially, he said she was just a friend.
Recently he has been posting quotes on how a wife should be, how a daughter-in-law should be in our culture, etc. on Facebook and when I question him he says he hasn’t been on Facebook for months.
What should I do? We have separated though not legally yet. I cannot accept lies and I never wanted a guy to marry me for gold (dowry). Before marriage his family portrayed an image of not being interested in dowry but after marriage they have been raising issues like “the girl has not showed us the gold”, etc. How do I respond to his behaviour? I have repeatedly explained things; even his friends have explained to him, but he would just not accept his mistakes because by doing so he thinks he would lose respect. He has also raised his hand to me. Please help me. What should be my next step to work this out and if you think such people will never change, what should my actions be to come out of this safely without him damaging my life and image more?
A: Dear Ranjini,
I can imagine what a difficult situation you must be in. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the most frequent problems in our society today. First of all, I’d like you to decide with a clear mind whether you’d like to stay or leave. Put everything aside and first just focus on this question. Because that would decide your next course of action.
If you’d like to stay: If you want to try and make this marriage work, then try to separate your husband’s actions from his parents’. I know that we automatically consider our spouses as a reflection of their parents, which, while true to a certain extent, is not 100% accurate. We need to give our spouses time to become a “spouse” because this is a relationship they have never known before and like us, they too are navigating through the new twists and turns. Your first plan of action should be to try and strengthen the bond between you and your husband, WITHOUT bringing his parents and their actions in between. Try to sit down and THINK what you two can do together to ENJOY this marriage. What his parents did or didn’t do during the wedding is not relevant at all. Please remember that. While it does matter, it’s imperative that you keep it aside for a while when you try to build your marriage first. If possible, seek the help of a couple therapist along with your husband, but put up the point to him by saying that you value him, you value the relationship and you only want to do this because you want to learn new ways to make it work.
If you’d like to leave: If you make a decision to end this, then the first thing you need to do is look at the divorce laws in your state. Read up on the Internet; consult a lawyer just to learn the pros and cons. Remember, just because you’re doing this research doesn’t mean you’re leaving right away. Keep a cool head. It’s just about gathering information in the first step. I’m assuming you don’t have any kids, so custody will not add to your issues. On the psychological front, if you really want to leave, don’t let guilt eat you up. Everyone has a right to the kind of life they want and if you’re confident that you can make that life for yourself by leaving, there’s nothing to be guilty of. Most of the times yes, it is quite difficult to change how people see things, but we must ensure that we have exhausted every possible method we can try. Before you give up, figure out objectively whether you have indeed tried every approach to make your husband see your point. Or if changing to a different communication tactic might still make a difference. Think about it. Once you’re 100% sure that all options are exhausted, there will be natural clarity and no guilt in your decision.
Just remember, NOBODY can make this decision for you. You will have to do this yourself. So take your time, take baby steps, set small goals one by one and approach this like a solid problem, without letting your emotions run all over the place. All the very best!