I married out of guilt because my wife got pregnant when we were dating and we went for an abortion. This pregnancy happened just as I was debating breaking up with her because of her ‘bitchy nature’. After the abortion, she guilt-tripped me to the point that I told my parents that I would marry her. It’s been 3 years since our marriage and her bitchiness and verbal insults towards me and my family have increased. I just don’t like having sex with her because of her personality, and she now labels me as having lost my ‘manhood’. I have asked for a divorce, but she says that she will make me pay for a lifetime for ruining her life by never agreeing for a divorce. I am in a loveless, sexless, angry marriage. I fear that she will contest the divorce and make it ugly and prolonged. I feel protective towards my parents who she insults and also threatens to implicate if I go ahead with filing for divorce. I feel angry and frustrated that I guilt-tripped myself into a marriage that I knew was wrong. Where do I go from here?
Ans: You are hurt right now and your wife needs to know this. Gently ask your wife if she is willing to invest the time and effort to work on your marriage. Explain to her what makes you uncomfortable in your relationship with her. You are going to have to time this well by requesting her to spare some time for a heart to heart talk with you. An accusatory tone or aggressive stance may spook her and make her launch a counter-offensive in the ways that she knows best to.
Is your wife aware about how she has been making you feel? Does she enjoy hurting you? Is she hurting herself? Does she have an axe to grind with you because of who you are or because of something you did? The only way to find out is to have that uncomfortable though ultimately revealing conversation with her on the matter and hope that she learns to be sensitive to your situation.
Many partners express a will to change their ways in the interest of the improved emotional health and betterment of their partners and there are cases where all the differences do get resolved amicably. It’s important to not lose hope at this point. Be honest and fair with yourself. Firstly, ask yourself if you even love your wife and see this relationship as worth continuing in. While marrying out of guilt is not the healthiest reason to get married to someone, ask yourself if you want to stay in this relationship or if you would like to call it off.
Marriages based on love, respect, trust and re-invention make for happy marriages. Stating your unhappiness is important, but taking full responsibility for how you are feeling is also pivotal. To get your wife to really listen to you, you will have to start with sharing with her the fact that you would like a solution to the tenseness that you have been feeling and that you are not looking to play the blame-game with her. Tell her that you would like to be fair to her and that you expect some reciprocity in the matter as well.
Share with her how you see her treatment of you. Talk to her about the toll it is taking on you. You could describe your ideal home to her as a place of fairness, sensitivity and respect. Tell her what you desire and wish for in your life and in your shared journeys. Also, invite for feedback on the kind of husband you have been to her. Ask her if there is anything about you that has been distressing her in addition to what you already know.
Summarize what you already know to show her that you are clued in to her grievances with you.
Seeing your will to grow may open her heart up to moments of kindness and vulnerability that will ultimately help heal old wounds in the relationship. It is worthwhile to investigate if your wife resents you for impregnating her and for what she had to go through physically and emotionally during her abortion.
Is she trying to punish you for that incident? Is she someone who has an axe to grind with men in general? Is her bitterness restricted to you or to other people too? These questions are likely to reveal to you many aspects about your wife that you did not completely understood thus far.
Disagreements are exceedingly common in all relationships but being disagreeable and hostile is best avoided if the relationship is to thrive and survive.
Happy relationships require constant work that necessitates being mindful of each other’s unique needs in the space that the relationship shares. People aren’t mind readers and rarely do people do what someone else thinks or says they ‘should do’. It’s important to be clear, concise and congruent in what one says to one’s partner.
To be under the sword in this manner could certainly be distressing. If required, you can go meet with both a divorce lawyer and a relationship counsellor to further figure out what are your available options are at this point.
(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)