"Our first year of 'marital bliss' passed with little to no sex. My husband told me, 'I find you too fat'"
One woman’s journey to self-love, despite a crumbling marriage and judgement from her family
“I was 19 when I first met *Arun in college. We fell in love and were in a long-distance relationship for four years before we got married. Although we dated for a long while, we could only meet a couple of times in that period as I was in Pune while he was in Nasik. If I tell anyone that I only met him three-four times the entire time we were dating, they look at me as if I’ve grown two heads. I, too, sometimes wonder if we had become intimate back then, would I be here now?
We had to get married due to family pressure although neither of us was earning yet. I was sceptical about it but my in-laws were intent on us getting married and had told us they’d provide for us. My husband was okay with it so I decided it would all work out and went ahead with the wedding.
You know how we see those newly-married couples who can barely keep their hands off each other? Our first year of ‘marital bliss’ passed with little to no sexual intimacy. Kuch galat tha (something was wrong). I knew it in my gut but every time I tried to have that conversation with my husband, he’d somehow change the topic or defer it for a later time. As I became more persistent, the fat-shaming began. He told me the reason we’d barely been intimate was because he wasn’t attracted to me. “I find you too fat,” he told me.
Hearing that from your partner of so many years can damage your self-worth. I started to think I was the one with the problem here. It was my fatness that was destroying my marriage, I thought, so I decided to get rid of it. When I lost some of the weight, I tried to seduce him but he would say that he still found me unattractive. He kept making me feel undesirable and worthless.
“How much thinner would I have to get for him to be attracted to me? Would he ever be attracted to me? Why couldn’t I seduce my husband? Was I destroying my marriage? What was wrong with me?” These questions would be swirling around my head like a tornado. The entire six years of our marriage, I thought myself worthless and undeserving of love. It was like I was in a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight.
After one year passed, I tried to talk to my best friend about what was happening but I was only met with weird stares, which shut me down completely. I couldn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone about how I was feeling.
When three years ticked by, I decided to talk to my parents about it. I told my mother, who was supportive at first and suggested we should go to a doctor about our intimacy issues. I somehow managed to convince Arun to go to a sex therapist a full three years after our marriage.
The therapist had a closed-door session with my husband and asked him to come again for seven-eight sessions of hypnotherapy but Arun brushed it off saying, “Arre vo doctor hi achha nahi tha (that doctor was a quack).” We tried other sex therapists, but my husband would always say something or the other about the doctor and stopped going for consultations. Moreover, he didn’t tell me what happened in these sessions, so I was never clued into whatever was going on in his head.
Sometime later, I gave up. I stopped having these conversations because I had become convinced the problem was actually with me. Our in-laws were still providing for us, even after being married for almost five years, so I decided to work and contribute as my husband was studying to become a lawyer. It would also distract me from my problems. Two birds, one stone. But my husband wasn’t keen on that either. Although I interviewed for many jobs, every time I would get an offer, he’d make excuses about how we would be better off if we stayed the way we were.
Throughout this time, the fat-shaming remained constant. I was scared of not being able to satisfy my husband ever. I thought I wasn’t capable of it. I hadn’t realised it at the time but I’d been pushed into depression. I was living in denial too though, thinking “Baaki ko ho sakta hai, but mujhe kyun hoga aisa toh kuch nahi hai meri life mein“. I know now that it was because of the stigma attached to depression and mental health issues that it took me this long to accept that I was, in fact, depressed.
The last straw for my marriage was when my father passed away. It jolted me back to reality. What was I doing, I thought? I had to stop somewhere and this was going to be it. I packed my bags and left in the January of 2021.
I started by moving to a different city and finding myself a job there. I even made a profile on an online dating app and started talking to people. But the fear of rejection stayed with me. Often plagued with thoughts of not being good enough, I held myself back from going out with people. Luckily, I found the right people who helped me feel comfortable in my body.
I started planning to get my masters degree, which had been put on hold after I got married. Making plans for my future helped me reclaim the power, the control that I had lost so long ago. I finally felt like my life had a sense of purpose. At first, my mother was supportive of me but with the passage of time, she became extremely averse to the idea of me getting a divorce. Even my extended family was saying things like, “Aapki beti mein hi koi issue raha hoga (it must have been your daughter’s fault).”
This is the reality for so many of us. It angers me to see how often women get blamed when a marriage ends, not just by people who don’t know them but their own family too. My mother telling me “I wasn’t trying harder” was proof.
My mother knows she’s the most important thing to me and she’s been using that to her advantage. She threatened me with suicide more than once if I didn’t go back to Arun. I felt so helpless. I didn’t want to lose the only parent I had left so I gave in. I decided to try a last-ditch attempt to save my marriage for the sake of my mother.
My husband hadn’t talked to me in these 11 months, except for a few texts telling me to come back. But having been with someone for so long, you know them more than they know themselves. I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know if this decision is right or not, but it’s the one I’ve made. My final divorce hearing is still scheduled for early next year. I may be trying again with Arun but I refuse to settle for lesser than I deserve.”
*Name changed upon contributor’s request
As told to Rishika Singh