I am in an arranged marriage. My wife is a lawyer and good at her job. I was never really attracted to her physically but because she hails from a prestigious family, and was educated, my parents asked me to consider the proposal and I agreed. We did have sex but I would fantasise about other women while being with her. However, after childbirth she has put on a lot of weight and become very irritable because of the baby. I do not like to even go close to her any more. This has become a problem as she believes I have a physical problem when I know I’m normal. I don’t know how to tell her that I never was and am not attracted to her without hurting her. I am in a fix. I can’t even get out of this marriage as her parents are very influential and will take me to the cleaners. Please advise.

A relationship based on a lie or due to a state of confusion – is like a house of cards waiting for a gust of wind to blow it down. It would seem that your marriage rests not on love and companionship but on perceived potential benefits accrued to you based on the influence and prestige that comes with being associated with her family. This is a most unfortunate reason to get married.

A marriage is the most refined and mature form of friendship. All friendships must be based on trust to qualify as friendships. The social construct of the marriage is a lifelong bond forged with respect, trust, love – often culminating in the shared joy and  adventure of parenthood. Would you say that any of the above defining characteristics resonate with the nature of the relationship you share with your wife?

If not, then what does your marriage continue to be based on? A marriage adapts through life’s tempests but once it ends it’s back to being ‘on the solo train’ again. When you were intimate with your wife, you were physically present while having ‘sex’ but you were emotionally absent from the ‘lovemaking’. This was a lie that got perpetuated since your wife may have felt like you are both ‘physically and emotionally’ connected with her when you had sex whereas your mind was elsewhere. We are all sexual beings and there is great joy and purpose in discovering our sexuality with someone we deeply care for.

Do you now care for your wife or is she merely a tick mark in your goals towards self-upgradation, pleasing the crowd and socio-familial benchmarking? It’s not uncommon for married men to fantasize about other ladies who he may feel attracted to. However, to have no physical attraction to your wife will prove challenging in situations when her sexual needs need addressing. This seems to be the case already. Her weight gain post pregnancy is due to the many hormonal and biological factors that are changing with her body after something as physically draining and emotionally significant as pregnancy has changed both her body and her lifestyle.

It is unfair to see a woman merely as a ‘body’ meant to ‘attract’ the affections of a man. This is a limited view of a woman. Your wife is so much more than just a body. Your wife’s body is strictly her business and child rearing responsibilities also seem to be playing a big role in how she structures her time for herself. It is a time for you to be sensitive to her as her husband. A new mother’s fears and uncertainties need the addressing and sensitivity of not only her husband but also perhaps a compassionate counsellor who can help her through her own emotional issues.

To also let the lie fester about your ‘phantom’ physical problem which is inhibiting your intimacy with her, will prove further problematic when you are checked and nothing medically wrong is discovered with you or about your sexual prowess. At all stages, your wife is susceptible to feeling hurt, cheated and humiliated. It would be awkward though necessary for the relationship – for you to come clean with your wife so that she can see your efforts towards looking for a resolution to the gaps that continue to grow between you all. You started with lying to yourself about how you really feel about her but now you must share the truth about how you view her and this relationship. The clarity will help both of you will make a decision as opposed to the suffering continuing in this bleak manner.

All human beings deserve their dignity. If you tell her that you feel no attraction towards her, the revelation may come off as one of her life’s most shocking and excruciating ones. A visit to a relationship counsellor may be a good idea at this point so that both of you are not at a greater risk of hurting each other verbally. Know that anything that you share with her may not be taken well by her as few people enjoy being lied to or rejected. She will be hurt one way or the other. You will need to find a way to soften the blow.

One way or the other, a conclusion must be reached or else you will continue to find yourself in this most awkward state of limbo. Decisions get made for us when we aren’t proactive in choosing what we are willing to work for or what we are willing to sacrifice and lose. There are no perfect solutions. There are only optimal efforts.

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