Dear Professor Nadine,
I am a 30-year-old doctor, and have been married to the girl I was in love with, S, for about three years. S and I belong from different backgrounds and her parents were against our marriage because of the obvious class differences. They refused my proposal twice before finally accepting it. Although I am from upper middle-class, her parents didn’t think S would be able to adjust with me as they are loaded and S was literally born with a silver spoon in her mouth. They told S not to marry me and when I went to meet them, they were very cold and refused us permission to get married. Two years passed and we both remained firm. S rejected many proposals from her community and finally her parents gave in. We were very happy and decided to get married immediately before they could change their minds. Professor, we all have flaws and as such even in the years before our marriage we had lots of fights. S has a bossy streak and thinks she knows everything. However, when we were not married, these personality traits never came between us. We used to make up quickly after our fights, and I thought S would settle down after marriage.
Unfortunately for both of us, things have become bad. S has a personality disorder; she is temperamental, becomes angry over extremely small things and has become suspicious of everyone, especially my mother. I was always very close to my mother and even though my parents and I live in different cities I am always in contact with them on a daily basis. I am the only son of my parents and when I moved away to study medicine I used to call my mother daily without fail, even if only for a couple of minutes to let her know I was all right. Now S has a problem with this. She has told me that grown, married man did not call their parents daily. She thinks my mother talks against her, although my mother is a simple woman who only asks about my health and work. She never asks me about my routine, and only asks me to convey her duas to S. S is so paranoid that to avoid fights I stopped calling my parents daily, and would call them in S’s absence for a few minutes. That is, however, not the only problem. S doesn’t like anything I buy and tells me I have horrible taste. She demands very expensive, mostly branded presents. I earn well and my parents don’t need financial assistance from me but still it has become very difficult to make ends meet. Especially because on S’s demand I bought a plot in an upscale neighbourhood and the cost of construction of the house is so much that I am at my wits’ ends. We have terrible fights over very trivial issues. I hate raised voices because growing up I didn’t experience any tumult in my house. So, I decided to stay quiet for my peace of mind. She has a problem with that, too, and accuses me of indifference. She shouts at me because I like the food she doesn’t like. She creates a problem wherever we go, whether to our relatives’ houses or restaurants. Last time she was so ballistic that I told her we should go for a divorce. Now she is saying that I am cruel and God would be her judge. I used to love her a lot but now not as much as I used to. All these fights have changed my personality. My parents are really worried about me, and do everything to keep S happy, but she is rude to them as well. I wanted to involve S’s parents but she says her parents must not find out about our differences. I don’t know what to do anymore, as my parents are against divorce also. Luckily, we don’t have children, so I am not ruling out divorce as an option, but I still have feelings for her. It’s so complicated, the way I feel about her. When she fights I run away from the apartment, but when her mood is good I feel happy in her company. What should I do? Should I make a clean break now before it’s too late for S to re-marry, or should I just continue to live in hell?
Dear Traumatised Husband,
It’s unfortunate that despite loving each other people end up fighting and making their lives miserable. But, as you stated so wisely, we all have flaws. It’s just that before one gets married, these flaws look trivial. Men are willing to overlook many things before marriage in girls they are in love with, but it’s not easy for them to accept things they don’t like in their wives. You knew she had a temper and was bossy before you got married but you probably thought she would rein in her temper after marriage. Mostly, it does happen and girls adapt to the temperament of their husbands, but then there are some girls with personality disorders, too. S definitely need help and you must convince her to consult a psychiatrist. Instead of telling her she has a problem, why not first try to get her to agree to couples’ therapy? It is possible that S will become better but you will have to commit yourself to getting her the treatment she requires. She loves you or she wouldn’t have married you against her parents’ wishes but unless her problems are addressed your life will not change. Before opting for a divorce, you should try everything that is possible to save your marriage. Making a break, as you called it, is easy but working on marriage is difficult. If you still have feelings for her, try to persuade her see a psychiatrist. If she doesn’t agree, you will have to get her parents onboard whether S likes it or not. Explain to them what is happening in your life and ask them to convince S. S doesn’t want them involved because they were against your marriage and she does not want to hear ‘I told you so’ from her parents. But I am sure her parents will also want your marriage to succeed. Good luck!
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