An email: “I have absolutely decided that I will not marry her, but I am wondering if I made the right choice.”

Sharing an email.
Hello, IHM.
Most of the people who write to you seem to be women, but I hope you will be able to offer some advice to me as well! (I’m male)
Okay, before I begin my story, some background. I am a 29 year old Delhiite, and an investment banker by profession. My family is a large one, and is fairly traditional, but I have spent several years abroad, and for good or worse, do consider myself a bit more liberal than the average Indian. I’ve done reasonably well in my career so far and currently hold what people would call a ‘plush’ job in the NCR.
As you may imagine, as I crossed 25, my family started hankering me (with increasing intensity) to think about marriage. I resisted all attempts for about three years. Last year, though, I finally gave in, and agreed to have a look at some of the eligible ‘matches’ my family had received.
After a couple of unsuccessful ‘dates’ (I’m not sure what I would call them, really), I hit the jackpot. This woman – I’ll call her Tara – was a fellow banker who also lived and worked in the NCR. We spent about five months getting to know each other. I was skeptical at first, but I was eventually bowled over not just by the fact that she was great looking, but also because she was the sort of confident, vivacious, smart and yet kind individual that I always wanted as a life partner. We shared many of the same goals, we shared similar values and we also had similar thoughts on things like religion and parenting. In short, I thought Tara was more or less my best shot at finding ‘the one’, and to the extent that anyone can do so in five months, I think I genuinely fell in love with her. Our parents were quite happy, and we arranged to have a June engagement.
That was the good part. Now comes the dilemma.They say love blinds you to many things. I was blinded too, but as time passed, it became more and more obvious to me that all was not well on her side. It manifested as small things which I initially chalked to the initial awkwardness (but which were more than that in actuality). She would seem extremely stressed, and even resentful at times. Her moods would change suddenly. One moment, we would be talking quite normally, the next, she would simply explode over some triviality (e.g me tipping the waiter too much).

On my first – and only – attempt at any kind of physical contact (just physical, not even sexual), she completely froze, and her body tensed up like a wound spring.

Of course, I immediately let go, and to my surprise, she began crying and left without a word. I did not talk about it later, thinking that it was obviously a sensitive subject, and hoping that she would come round to it when she felt comfortable. She never did.

She completely broke down on several occasions, for no apparent reason whatsoever and did not respond when I asked her what was wrong.
These things started happening with increasing regularity, and before long, I began suspecting that something was very wrong.
It was only in the last couple of weeks that — after much prodding and cajoling — she shared the truth with me. Her story was involved and complicated, but the long and short of it was that she was basically being emotionally blackmailed into this relationship by her own parents, in many ways. For example, her mother suffers from multiple health issues, and the ‘stress’ that Tara caused by not getting married according to her parents’ wishes was supposedly aggravating these issues. She also has a younger brother, who evidently cannot get married until she does. The parents have expressed a wish to see their grandkids before they die, and her father threatened to consume rat poison on at least one occasion.
The pressure was obviously incredible.
Many heart-to-heart discussions followed, but the bottom line which came out was that while she honestly did not want to get married at this point, she did like me, and would thus marry me as a sort of ‘best-compromise-available’ solution, if I was willing (basically a known devil v. the devil unknown scenario).
Faced with this situation, I unequivocally refused. I told her she needed to get out of the trap she was in, live her own life, and find her own speed. I reasoned that I couldn’t marry someone who didn’t want to be married at all, as doing so would make both our lives miserable. I made this argument in many ways, at many times, and told her we could be friends etc.She did not accept this, and told me that I wasn’t doing her any favors but in fact only making things worse, because she’d now have to marry some other guy that her parents chose for her, who might not be very suitable. She told me that I should take some time to think about it.

As you may have guessed, I am now double-guessing myself. I have absolutely decided that I will not marry her, but I am wondering if I made the right choice. Would we have been better off if I had chosen otherwise? Is she right in saying that I am actually leaving her worse off than before? I have been feeling a little guilty for having been part of this whole blackmail, and not seeing the signs earlier on. There is also a sense of betrayal — this was a woman I loved (I think) and I thought we had something great going on, but in the end, it all turned out to be a charade.
I am conflicted and confused.
Your perspective on this issue would be greatly appreciated. At the very least, it would help me clear my mind on the subject. Hopefully, I will also learn some valuable lessons for the future.
Awaiting your reply.

Conflicted Banker

Advertisements