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Updated on: Sunday, July 19, 2020, 02:23 AM IST

Sex and The City: No marriage, please!

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My arranged marriage of 22 years was one where my husband had several affairs and kept telling me that he had been forced to marry me against his wish, and that I am not the companion he wanted. I am now in the midst of a divorce. I met a wonderful man who is 20 years younger to me and nearer to my daughter’s age. We got very intimate in every way very fast and I got attached to him. He proposed marriage and said he wants to have kids with me once I am done with the divorce. I was taken aback because I was just enjoying the love and attention that I never got in my marriage. I am not at all willing to have kids and nor am I prepared for marriage. I thought we could just be adult companions, but he wants the whole nine yards. He wants a family. He recently broke up with me when I told him I am not interested in more. I am devastated as I miss the love and attention. I also want to be fair to him. Please advise.

Ans. To expect love, intimacy, attention and companionship only on subjective or personal terms that you decide or are comfortable with is a rather unsustainable and unrealistic way to negotiate a relationship. It is a legitimate desire and unsurprising for someone looking to move on from bachelorhood to start a family life to propose marriage to someone they like. You have also stated that you would like to be fair to him.

However, you need to be honest and fair with what you want as well. His desires are his responsibility. Your desires are your responsibility. It's really that simple but its our emotions that complicate things for us. Sometimes we can not give people what they want from us and that's okay. Sometimes what we state as our need - may not win a popularity vote either. One can not dip ones toes in the river without expecting them to get wet! There are always costs to bear in all relationships.

As wonderful as he is, there's nothing that can be done to separate him from his agenda to get married and want children. These are his terms and he must stay true to them at all costs. If desires and plans don't match between a couple, a breakup ensues. There is natural culmination to all thinking when decisions must be made to fortify those thoughts. Divergent thoughts lead to divergent paths. That is the natural way forward. This has already occured in your case. Even a so called functional relationship doesn't escape its share of unheavels.

However, whenever one or both partners begin to feel constantly shackled or always tackled by the weight of a partner's expectations, the relationship begins to wither away and scrape through on borrowed time. This is an unpleasant and inevitable truth. Change is excruciating when we feel like we're not getting what we want and wanting different things is the hallmark of all socio-psychological discord since the beginning of time - way before the agricultural and scientific revolution took place.

Your husband's distancing from you and loss of interest in the marriage is a prime example of this. His affairs were his way to finding excitement just as your intimacy with the young man were your preferred method to find excitement and a new connection.

Could it be possible that due of your own frustrated experiences in marriage, you're not open to the idea of re-starting your marital journey with someone younger? Are you afraid that men tend to get bored with you and that is inhibiting you from moving on? Are you simply tired of the tug of war that relationships may entail? These questions are a starting point to investigate what's really bothering you in addition to the stress of another breakup with another man.

To be in control of one's life, one must first understand what one is afraid and weary of. Sources of stress inform decisions we make. You must fully explore all the feelings you are experiencing with a qualified psychotherapist - so you can better organise your thoughts and act accordingly. Being with someone younger (close to your daughters age) could also come with certain social-costs to bear - as some folk are typically drawn to conjecture and gossip about the 'age-gap' between romantic partners. Don't let this worry you.

Peeking into the lives of other people and passing social or moral judgements - is a common pass-time for many people. Eventually everyone moves on to novel pressing concerns or newer hot topics as time passes. However, you owe your life and dreams the responsibility of giving them due credence and respect. Getting attached to someone entails wanting a part-stake in their life journey and dreams - almost like an emotional shareholder! However, just as stock prices go up and down based on market dynamics, when dreams and journeys take decidedly different paths... fluctuations do occur.

Changes circumstances lead to changed investment dynamics. Difficult, time-sensitive, emotionally vulnerable and inevitable choices may have to be made. Not everyone walks away with EXACTLY what they had wanted from a situation. Either we deal with a situation or we learn to deal with the outcomes of not having dealt well with a situation. Circumstances inform connected paths of action.

A breakup is thus merely the front face to many emotional underpinnings that could sometimes stay hidden from us despite our best efforts to draw them out! After all, his needs are his responsibility just as your needs are your responsibility. You win some. You lose some. You plan some. Either ways, be truthful, patient and kind with yourself through all the transitions.

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Published on: Sunday, July 19, 2020, 07:00 AM IST
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