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I am a 31-year-old, well-to-do banker, working for an international bank in Maharashtra. A firm believer in the institution of family and marriage, I entered into an arranged marriage in December 2014 with a girl from Delhi. She was an IT professional, working in my city and seemed to be someone who shared my values and beliefs. Before the wedding, I had clearly mentioned my desire for a nurturing and supportive relationship, and a family life and she reciprocated with her own desire for the same.
But days after the wedding, all my ideas about a fulfilling marriage and relationship came crashing down. After we returned from our international honeymoon, planned by her, paid by me, she insisted that we live separately, away from my parents. I gave in to her demands, feeling that as a newly married couple, it was obvious that we would need our privacy. I also employed two maids to help her with cooking and the housework. My wife did not even lift a finger to do anything in the house. Even basic cleanliness and cooking was taken care of by me or the maids. She would also frequently drink, smoke and abuse me verbally. She also slapped me a couple of times in front of my friends and relatives. But I overlooked these incidents, thinking that she needed more time to adjust. I had a huge friend circle and wanted her to feel at home with them as well. But, she made no effort to integrate herself with them and ensured that I started isolating myself from my friends. She often went out with her friends and sister, but did not include me in her plans. I would often find out where she had been courtesy her Facebook updates and photographs. When I wanted to accompany her, she refused saying that she was an independent individual and did not want me to tag along with her. I was extremely hurt and upset with this behaviour, as I was going out of my way to ensure that she felt at home with my friends, while she was avoiding spending time with me, in the company of her friends.
In an effort to establish a rapport with her family and keep her happy, I footed bills of all the expensive gifts and family vacations for her family. In return, I had to suffer taunts and humiliation in front of her family members, as well.
Things became worse, when she started abusing me for calling up my parents or trying to visit them for a couple of hours on the weekends. Isolated from my friends and family in order to keep my marriage working, I started losing my peace of mind and sanity. The psychological harassment grew by leaps and bounds and I spent nights sleeping in my car just to escape her constant taunts and allegations.
Like all Indians, I had also been brought up to believe that marriage is for keeps and all marriages face some teething troubles. I believed that with love and understanding, things would improve. I also kept this reality hidden from my parents so that they weren’t troubled.
In the four months that we lived together, she didn’t spend a penny on anything and constantly made demands on me for fulfilling all her desires, material and physical. I co-operated, I realize now that I was foolish in hoping that things would improve. She left for Delhi in May 2015, citing a family emergency. After that she didn’t pick up my calls or replied to my messages. A few days later, I got a summon from the Crime Against Women cell in Delhi, where she had lodged a complaint against me and my parents on allegations of cruelty, dowry and harassment.
The shock of this allegation was further compounded, when I realized that she had walked away with valuable jewellery, including items that belonged to my mother, other valuables like my laptop, camera and hard drives.
The allegations, trips to Delhi, the unreasonable demand for alimony, which is much more than my capacity and the sheer emotional toll it has taken on my parents and me is immense. The breakdown of the marriage has affected us physically, emotionally and psychologically. My mother has needed therapy to cope up and I have become a shadow of my former self.
In our country, when a marriage doesn’t work out, blame is automatically allocated on the boy and his family. Luckily, my friends, neighbours are people who were first-hand witnesses to the behaviour of my wife have been supportive. I shudder to think what would have happened without their encouragement. I would probably have ended up as a statistic of men committing suicide due to harassment.
My gullibility and immense faith in the institution of marriage is a bygone thing. Now, all I want is to be out of this mess and try and gather the scattered pieces of my life.
(This article originally appeared in The Times of India. The images used are for representational purposes only.)