Q: I have been married for a year now and almost immediately after the ceremony I realised it was a mistake. With the lockdown in place, we got a lot of time to spend with each other and my husband turned out to be a completely different person than what I had perceived. I never knew he had such a short temper and was so verbally abusive. Plus, he mentioned he was a social drinker but after moving in I realised this is a daily habit. I have discovered so many things that are completely opposite of what I had thought. I am thinking of getting a divorce but my parents think I am rushing it. Please advise.
Ans: We do find out much more about our partners when we move in together and that’s why many couples prefer to test the waters before getting married. Unfortunately, you are getting to know your husband during a pandemic, a highly distressful event impacting all of us emotionally. People are fighting and drinking more than usual, making mental health professionals and alcohol shops run at full capacity. Maybe it is too early to rush into a divorce but addressing the issue with him is a must for you.
You will have to have a conversation about how you feel when he is verbally abusive, or short-tempered, because you are clearly getting triggered by these behaviours. Find out what is upsetting about them, beyond you not getting the husband package you expected. Unfortunately, there is no ‘return and replace’ option in the marriage market, at least not yet.
It might be worth understanding what triggers your husband too. What exactly makes him drink and be aggressive. This could be an opportunity to bring you two closer. Understand that, men are often socialised to come across as strong. Most will not open up about feelings of fear and anxiety that make them look weak in front of others. They therefore cover negative emotions with anger, or numb them down with alcohol, substance abuse and sex.
Your husband might be scared, are you willing to hold space for him? Maybe he has never been given the opportunity to express this emotion, give him a chance. Maybe he has reached a point where he cannot see beyond his protective shell, suggest seeing a therapist. Please also set a time frame for yourself to not build regret about staying.
(The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach and an Independent People and Culture Specialist focusing on relationships, sexuality, youth and social media in South Asia. Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)