This email affirms what I have always said, that Patriarchy victimizes not just women (of all ages) but also younger men. Younger men find it tougher to complain (or even acknowledge the abuse) because they are not openly ill treated, their abuse is less visible, because it is generally disguised as parental love (and hope and expectations – i.e the concept of Shravan Kumar and Sri Ram like sons).
To cut a long story short, I got married and my erstwhile happy life disappeared in a puff of smoke. My wife is a great person, very caring, very supportive and so on. But the mismatch between us is too great. She comes from a very conservative background, where the “pati-parameshwar” jazz is kind of gospel truth. Unfortunately, I am simply not comfortable with that kind of thing and feel smothered by her constant mothering and cares.
She hated America from Day One. The culture and lifestyle was too different from what she was used to, and she pined for home. Happily, I know that it is not possible to have a partner who meets every expectation of yours, but in my marriage, neither of us meets each others’ expectations at all. Our whole idea of marriage is worlds apart. I find it quite impossible to playact at being the dominant “head of the family” kind of guy. I also feel intensely irritated when she finds it necessary to consult with me before making the smallest of decisions for herself. For instance, I recently bought her a cellular phone and she actually asked me for PERMISSION to call her mother. She once even called me up in the middle of a conference because she had gone to the market and wanted to purchase a deodorant for herself! It is not a question of money. Fate has been kind on me in that regard and we have more than enough to lead a good life. I have never once refused to give her any amount she wanted and as far as I am concerned, my money is her money. She can do whatever in the world she wants with it. I just have a terribly hard time convincing her of that.
Religion is another bone of contention between us. She is a devout Hindu, while I am an atheist. That is not a problem in itself ; she could believe in the Loch Ness monster or the great ZooZoo for all I care. The problems begin when she starts trying to impose her religious beliefs on me. Certain things must not be done on certain days, certain foods must not be eaten, certain drinks must not be consumed. She does not assert these demands forcefully or vocally, but the emotional manipulation is usually enough to make me give up and fall in line. I am tired of falling in line.
The list of problems goes on and on.
There is no emotional connection or intimacy between us. There is no feeling of having lived together more than two years. There is no feeling of being in a romantic relationship. The little disconnects of perception and worldview torment both of us.
I daresay she has a long list of problems with me too. I know this, because I can make out that she is dissatisfied with our marriage. I have even seen her crying about it on occasion and it is really impossible to express how horrible that makes me feel. For some reason, she thinks this is all her fault, when I know it is not. If anything, it is my fault. I was aware of the disconnect between us, but like a damn fool, I thought it would go away with time. I even had these romantic notions of being the savior who would provide her a “better” life.
I made a mistake and have been paying hugely for it. Worse, someone else is having to pay for my mistake too. The only way I know to correct the mistake is divorce by mutual consent, but that would be like using sulfuric acid to clean my teeth. Even a casual mention of divorce is enough to cause my wife to start crying. And I know that where she comes from, a divorce would cause her to be stigmatized for no fault of her own. How can I bring that on to someone who trusted me, to someone who I promised to protect? I cannot.
But what else can I do? I see little hope of things improving between us. Divorce would probably be like the end of the world for her. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place and have no idea what to do.
A friend recently suggested marriage counseling. Do you think it might be helpful in our case? Do you have any other suggestions? If so, I’d be infinitely grateful if I could hear them.
Eagerly awaiting your reply.