I was forced into marriage by my in-laws when I was just 22 years. I was dating my wife and we were just seeing how things would go. I was given an ultimatum to either stop seeing their daughter or marry her. My girlfriend then acted helpless and cried bitterly at the thought of ending things with me. Today I know that she was a part of the plan to pressure me to marry. I was a fool to give in to marriage when both of us had yet to mature and know ourselves. Today as we have grown up we have grown apart as two people with very different values and dreams and there is no commonality except that we have known each other for a decade. I want to get out of the marriage as I have many dreams for my career and do not want to have children or be tied down to a life that was thrust upon me. My wife doesn’t seem to appreciate my present need though she has accepted that she was a part of the plan to pressure me into marriage. I care for her but do not want to be with her. Please advise.
What you seem to be in pursuit of is a foolproof exit strategy from this marriage. To achieve this, you will require to engage the services of a good divorce lawyer and a competent relationship counselor.
Knowing what you currently know, it would also be worthwhile to objectively assess your role in this situation that you find yourself in. The obvious question would be – Why did you marry her if you are so clear today about not wanting kids and wanting to focus on your career goals? Do you still feel forced to continue in this relationship?
It is not uncommon for people get married due to – social pressure, a plan to share financial pressures as a couple, loneliness or boredom with oneself, to introduce some variety in one’s humdrum life and to guarantee recurring sexual privileges to oneself. However, such relationships rest on fickle and fleeting needs. As with your personal needs, a relationship has needs as well. These needs help a relationship flourish. A relationship without trust, communication, respect and patience is like a house without walls (not really a house then, is it?).
If you married her as a way to ‘rescue’ her from the possibility of loneliness or ‘a life without you’ – it would appear that you have married her to NOT share a relationship with her but more to curate a lifestyle for her or to ‘be the nice guy’. Take this opportunity for you to slow down and evaluate what compels your decision making processes.
Other people cannot be held responsible for how your personal situations pan out. You have to learn to be in control of what you want and what you seek out for yourself. That’s what adults do. Having said this, it is also important for you to empathise with what your wife wants at this point too.
Try and speak to her to understand her exact reasons for marrying you. Understand why the pressure was being exerted by her parents so that you can be fully cognizant about how she may take your desire to leave her. This is going to be painful for the both of you and mediation via relationship counseling may be a good place to begin to help plan your exit from each other’s life.
While listening to her needs and plans for herself, it is very important that you respect the fact that your wife is very different from you and for her to be expected to change everything about herself is neither fair to her and it may neither be the practical approach to remedy the situation. To prove that you care for her, you need to be sensitive and yet measure your words very carefully since your wife may end up feeling rejected by you.
If you feel ‘tricked’ or ‘coaxed’ into doing things for other people, what’s going to stop you from making similar mistakes again (assuming that your divorce with your wife) gets finalised? Assertiveness training may be something you could greatly benefit from.
If you are still feel that ‘sacrificing your personal dreams, vision or goals’ in service of ‘making other people happy’ is the charitable, noble or good thing to do, you are sadly mistaken. Relationships always have to be reciprocal in nature to feel rewarding and fulfilling. To give up on one’s own ideas builds resentment and sets oneself up for a life where one may be treated like a ‘scapegoat’ or a ‘doormat’ since one lacks the ability to stand up for oneself or own up to one’s personal needs.
Shared values are important for relationships to sustain themselves. Values like hard work, honesty, independence, stability, variety and freedom determine the course of one’s dreams as an individual & as part of a couple. Values define the trajectories of family life and how time and resources are spent in the pursuit of these values. The lack of shared values could have been a valid consideration for you but you were understandably young and perhaps even a little confused at that stage of your life. Now you know yourself better, you are more than capable of making strides in the direction of your choosing.