Q&A. Has He Married Me Just to Obtain a Green Card?

Q. I’m an Indian-born US citizen. I’m physically challenged (paraplegic), currently living in India with my mother on an OCI visa for my treatment. My dad still works in the US – we couldn’t have borne the costs of my treatment otherwise. My husband is from India but living in Canada on a work permit.

We met online and hit it off almost instantly. He started with treating me with all the love and attention I could ask for – talking to me every day, even during work. He’d sleep late to talk to me, he’d wake up early to talk to me, he’d text me during work, we’d Skype every day for 2-3 hours and even if we didn’t have anything to talk about, we’d talk or just sit there looking at each other.

I asked him about his goals, ambitions, likes and dislikes. It’s crazy how similar we seemed in every respect. It made me feel as though we’re meant for each other.

Finally after about talking to each other for about two months, he dropped the “L” bomb. At this point the feeling was mutual. We started a long distance relationship. Everything was going great.

After we’d been in a relationship for about a month, it was time for me and my mum to visit my dad in the US. During my stay there we started talking about a green card for him so he could fulfil his dreams of starting his career in the US. He was fiercely against it at first, saying “I don’t want to use you like that”.

Married for greeen cardPhoto by naturalhomecures34

After a while, he agreed and said it was okay if we got married and filed for a green card for him. After a couple more days, I spent $400.00 on a ticket to see him in Canada (my mom came with me). Everything was perfect till then. 

It was in Canada that the first signs of trouble started to appear. For instance, there was this incident of him getting furious with me quite unexpectedly when I told him I wanted to visit the hookah bar with him (a place he frequented for smoking hookah, which I thought would be fun). He was very rude. I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. Later I forgave him as I assumed he’d reacted because he couldn’t afford it. (A couple of days after I left, he bought a hookah so that he could smoke at home with his friends).

We went back to the States. A felt he was starting to change. He stopped Skyping me as much, we would fight more, and he stopped giving me time. After a month, my mom and I made another trip to Canada to meet him. It wasn’t any better this time. His treatment of me became even more rude, unpredictable, most alarmingly – unexplainable.

He would even insult my mom or avoid her quite obviously. I thought that he might be frustrated because of work so I didn’t bother him too much.

His friends, he, my mom and I had planned a trip to Vegas to celebrate Christmas and New Year together. We got married in Vegas so I could file for his green card. Things weren’t that great in Vegas. He bought a really expensive DSLR camera. Whenever we’d pass by something cool my mom or I would tell him to come and take photos. He’d rudely tell us something like, “I don’t like all this, why do we have to take pictures?” But whenever his friends would tell him to take a picture, he wouldn’t say a word and would start to pose for them.

Later we came back to India and he went back to Canada. Recently I asked him to take photos of himself for his birthday and share. Bizarrely, he became furious and seemed incapable of appreciating my desire to feel included.

I’ve asked him to set his profile picture on FaceBook to something with him and I in it. He doesn’t want to do that. Neither does he want to change his WhatsApp picture to something with both of us together. 

When he came on Christmas, I gifted him a beautiful watch from Skagen. It was a silver netted band with a black dial. Not too big, not too small. He didn’t appreciate it and started saying that I should have consulted him before buying. My dad was there and he was really upset. He didn’t even thank me verbally. His friends gifted him a cheap watch from WalMart with a big dial and he loved it! I felt so hurt.

Long story short, I feel I’ve dropped completely out of his priority list. He doesn’t call/Skype/communicate much (in spite of ours being a long distance relationship), doesn’t appreciate me for who I am (doesn’t encourage me on my efforts to improve my physical condition, forced me to get myself a makeover) and doesn’t even appreciate my efforts to make it work in spite of all this.

I haven’t been happy these days, all I’ve been doing is feeling lonely and crying a lot because I feel I ruined my life. He doesn’t please me sexually either. He finishes before I do and doesn’t have the courtesy to help me finish.

He expects everything to be done his way and is really arrogant, insensitive and stubborn. He curses, fights, and screams like a baby! I don’t know if I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life.

Is he acting this way just for his green card? Should I divorce him? He’s coming to US in July and I’m also going there. What should I do?


A. A few red flags according to me:

#1. You’ve married too early      and without knowing each other closely enough. I understand you married      early to give him the advantage of the green card. But in general it’s not      a good idea to be married at a time when your relationship is going to      remain long distance for an indefinite period.

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) 
Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2).
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2 

Married for greeen cardPhoto by Kitty Allison

#2. You’ve said he’d sometimes      insult your mother or not talk to her. I think you’re making a mistake by      involving your mother too much in your relationship. (That’s what it seems      from the limited amount of information that I have. Pardon me if I’m      mistaken.) For example, your mother accompanied you to Canada when you      went to meet him. Your mother was present throughout your honeymoon in Las      Vegas even after your wedding. This is definitely not acceptable from any      spouse’s point of view. I understand that she needs to take care of you      because of your condition. Hence ask your husband openly whether your      mother’s presence is disturbing to him. If you want honest answers, don’t      make this sound like a threat. In your situation, ideally your spouse should be either willing (and able) to take care of you all by themselves, or at peace with the constant presence of your mother. He can’t eat the cake and have it too. Encourage him to choose one of the two options.

My reading of the situation: 

Your guy is taking you for granted. And you’re blind in love, even if you don’t want to admit it. Otherwise he wouldn’t have tried to change you completely and you wouldn’t have obliged by making over your wardrobe etc.

This may or may not mean that he doesn’t love you. It might just be that he really wasn’t mentally ready for marriage but did it early because of the green card and now feels trapped. It may be that he feels that he can trust you and hence feels it’s OK to treat you the way he wants (which is not a valid assumption). 

You can choose to give this relationship another chance, or you can end it. All I can tell you is that it’s not certain that he doesn’t care for you. Not yet. 

If you choose to try again, the first step is to talk. Have an open but mature & non-threatening discussion about your needs. Tell him openly which of his behaviours hurt you. Ask him directly if there’s anything he needs from the relationship that he’s not getting. Emphasize that you’re willing to work for keeping the two of you together. 

At a marriage stage as early as yours, communication is a huge challenge. The experience of my own marriage tells me this. You’re interpreting his actions in certain ways, which may be entirely off target. The same might be happening in his head. The fact that you’re based in different continents doesn’t help matters either. In this situation, instead of drawing conclusions about intentions from each other’s behaviours, open up and ask. 

In this regard, the importance of remaining calm cannot be stressed enough. This will become another meaningless, exhausting fight unless you promise yourself never to lose temper even if he does. If he gets defensive your responsibility is to re-clarify the objective of the discussion, emphasizing the fact that this is not a blame game. 

No one is perfect. All couples achieve peace and happiness through finding middle grounds and you can do the same. If you can resolve your misunderstandings – all my prayers for your undying love! :) If you can’t, you’d at least know you did everything you could before giving up. And make no mistake – giving up is an option (if you don’t get satisfactory responses from him within a reasonable period of time, for example), and it’s as good an option as staying back. Do not go down the lane of self-loathing thinking breaking up is a morally wrong or selfish choice. Remember: 

Life is too short to chase anything but happiness.

We remain in relationships as long as they give us peace, happiness and overall fulfilment, and not when they start having a generally negative effect on our lives.

All the best. :)

Q&A.The 4 Golden Rules of a Successful Marriage

Q. I see too many divorces around me. This is making me commitment-phobic. How can I ever find the courage to get married?

-Ankita, Mumbai

It’s good to know that you understand the importance of marriage without getting married. :D

Marriage will remain one of the biggest decisions of your life (if not the biggest one). The first thing to understand about marriage is that it’s always a risk. There is always a chance that things will not work out – five, ten or even twenty years down the line. You can’t eliminate that chance, but you can minimize it – by minimizing the chances of error before marriage.

Let me lay down some basic principles of avoiding common marriage mistakes, for your understanding. I call them the four Golden Rules of marrying the right person at the right time.

Rule #1. Don’t jump too early

A relationship has various stages. The first stage is the mad infatuation/attraction phase when you see nothing but positives in each other. This stage can last for anywhere between two months to more than a year. 

Every relationship starts with this stage, which then gradually culminates into (or doesn’t culminate into) a stable partnership, complete with mutual understanding, appreciation of each other’s needs and some compromises (We all know there’s no perfect relationship with zero compromises from either side). 

marriage phobiaPhoto by Maria Rosaria Sannino

The effects of the infatuation phase on your brain are neurologically and psychologically very similar to those of addictive substances

Hence the first rule of marital success is NOT taking the decision of marriage during this phase, let it crystallize into a more stable relationship stage and then think about marriage. In other words, you should be together at least for 2 years before you decide someone is “The One” of your life. No, that “feeling” that you get in your guts about him/her being “The One” is not a substitute for those years of understanding, fighting and reconciling with each other. 

Rule #2. The recipe for relationship success

The second rule of gauging whether you have a potentially successful relationship is to look at the level of compatibility you share. 

Compatibility = Friendship + Empathy + Mutual Need Fulfilment

Friendship – Understanding and caring for each other as friends. (Thumbrule for gauging the depth of the friendship between two people: Ask yourself, “Would we want each other in our lives even if there were no sexual attraction between us?”) 

Empathy – Understanding where the other person is coming from. Their needs, biases, weaknesses and the roots of all these. Now of course it’s not possible for anyone to figure that out completely for their significant other (Heck! We’d all have to be psychiatrists!). But as long as you genuinely want to and try to understand each other, you’ll find your relationship is attaining new depths. 

Mutual Need Fulfilment – A follow-up step on the last one is a genuine desire to fulfil the needs that one’s partner has from the relationship. The stability of a relationship is determined by each partner’s answer to ONE moot question:  

Are My Needs From This Relationship Getting Fulfilled?

marriage phobiaPhoto by Mustafa Khayat

Rule #3. Marriage means change

The third rule of making your marriage a success is to realize that your life is going to change inside out after marriage, irrespective of how long you’ve been in  a relationship (unless you’ve been in a long live-in relationship), and to understand what these changes would mean for your life. 

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) 
Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2).

Rule #4. Questions to ask before marriage

Lastly, to determine whether you’re ready for marriage or not you need to ask yourselves some vital questions. Whether and when you go ahead with the marriage will depend on your answers.
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2
Let me reiterate – following the 4 Golden Rules of Marriage would not ensure that you never have marital stability issues in the next fifty years. But they will ensure that you avoid the easily avoidable but alarmingly common mistakes and thereby increase the chances of success significantly. To test things out better, why don’t you run a covert survey on your divorcee friends to find out how many of them followed all the four rules? ;)

Q&A. My Boyfriend has been Avoiding Marriage for Years. What to do?

Q. I’m 26, Indian, living in the US. I have been seeing this guy (also Indian, based in the US) for 2.5 years now. We are of the same age.

Everything seems perfect in the relationship. His parents have accepted me happily. My parents are neither too approving, nor too disapproving of him, but have accepted my decision to get married to him, on condition of us getting married soon. Now here’s where the problem arises. My parents have been pressurizing me to get married for a very long time, starting at a time when I was not ready for marriage at all.

When they found out about my boyfriend, they insisted on talking to him about marriage. He came to my place and met my mother (when she was here). She liked him but he made it clear that he needed more time for marriage. I had trouble accepting it, but I did. I felt proud of his honesty and staunch refusal to lie in order to appease my family.

That was a year back. Late Last year we visited India together and he took the initiative to meet my family again, this time with his parents. I got my hopes high, but unfortunately his father told my family that he needed two more years before he was ready for marriage.

I broke up with him out of shock and pain, as at this point I had been ready to take the plunge for quite a while myself. But well, of course, we patched up.

Marriage avoidancePhoto by Irudayam

Sometime around March this year he started talking openly about marriage and declared that I’m the one for him. Gaining confidence in his intentions, I decided to stop throwing hints and told him that it’s no longer about parental pressure, and that I had been ready for quite a while. He was somewhat shocked. I asked him whether he had intentions of marrying within the year at least. He again backtracked, mentioning something vague about next year. 

I am not sure where to go from here. Everything is great between us, just that he keeps trying to buy time. Sometimes I even wonder whether he really is The One. I’m also tired of my parents continuously pressurizing me for getting married. I strive to make everyone happy but this is draining me completely. Please help.


A. Marriage is a life-altering decision Smitha. The only way you can increase the chances of making yours a success is to spend a few years with each other before marriage, and ask yourselves the right questions. 

From giving up the freedom to sleep through the weekend to making your peace with differences in food habits – marriage will change your life in more ways than you can imagine, irrespective of how many years you might have been together. 

Hence, the first step to making a marriage work is to understand this change.

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) 
Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2) 

Once you have some vague mental pictures of how your life is going to change after marriage, you need to start asking the right questions to yourself and your partner, to gauge whether you’re both ready to get married – now and with each other.

“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2

Hence, I’d strongly suggest against calling off a stable relationship of 2.5 years just for the sake of a disagreement over when you should get married, when you have such great compatibility. Consider giving him time if he needs, but not until you both agree on the terms. Read on to find out what I mean. 

The first step for you is to have an open but calm conversation with him. Ask him what is the reason he’s postponing the marriage again and again. Is it emotional readiness, financial issues, panic for losing personal space … what exactly is it that’s bothering him? It’s vital for the stability of this relationship that you’re both very clear on the reasons for delaying the marriage. Be extra careful to create a peaceful, non-threatening, supportive environment that helps him open up. As of today, he’s obviously scared of something – your reaction, your parents reaction, repercussions for the relationship etc – which is making him hold back from you on his real worries. Help him trust you completely. I cannot emphasize the importance of mutual trust enough for taking your relationship (and future marriage) forward from this point. 

Once you know the aspects of his concern, try to address them. 

Marriage avoidancePhoto by dmixo6

Is it finances that he’s worried about? Discuss and come to an agreement of how you’ll handle your finances (All funds common, one joint account plus individual accounts for each of you, completely separate accounts with expenses designated for each partner are just some of your options. Make sure by the end the arrangement is clear to and works for both of you.)

Is it personal space? This one’s more difficult to resolve. But you have to drive towards defining clear rules, like: I’d accompany you on all your activities and you’ll do the same for me, OR we’d each have one day of the two-day weekend to ourselves without the interference of the other, OR we’d each take solo trips sometimes, and that should be acceptable to the other partner. I’m just trying to give you some ideas of how rules of marital relationship look. Work out your own, making sure they distribute rights and responsibilities equitably,  without favouring any one partner over the other. 

Hope by now you have an idea what sort of conversations I’m encouraging you to have with your partner. Please go through the articles I mentioned before – they’d help you think about the aspects you need to take into account in this discussion. Some of the factors might even involve the parents on both sides. Each of you can discuss it with your parents, come back, and agree with your partner on what is acceptable. I’d suggest you don’t involve your parents directly in your discussion of your “Code of Marriage”, so to speak. :)

The second step from your side is to get him to commit to a marriage date, but only after you’ve successfully addressed all his concerns in the manner described above. Let him pick the date, don’t force a date earlier than what he’s comfortable with. But you should make it clear that once committed, you’d expect him to that date. If needed, announce the date to your family, friends, his family etc. (with his permission, of course). This would create some positive pressure on him to not go back on his words. 

What do you think of this situation, penguins? Let me know by leaving a comment. :)

Picking the Right Jewellery for Her: Unique Designs for Every Moment

When it comes to choosing the perfect gift for every romantic mood, jewellery is evergreen. From the tiny “I’m sorry” pendant to the bold red beads of “love is forever”, from the “I have a crush on you” plastic bangles to “Will you marry me?” diamond rings – throughout history jewellery has been the infallible medium of expressing emotions.

That’s why (OK, also because of the barrage of questions you keep asking about gifting little trinkets to her…:D) jewellery as romantic mementos became the topic of my most recent random foray through the jungle. Did I say jungle? I meant the Web.  

Now to me, it’s not the price of a piece of jewellery but its ability to express feelings that sets it apart. Hence, I knew any one type of jewellery can never be the solution to all your gifting needs. Just like your feelings, the perfect jewellery for your special someone varies from occasion to occasion. And where can you find this mind-numbing variety other than indigenous India – the mind-numbing motley of different traditions, cultures, mores and yes – different native genres of jewellery design?

That’s what brought me to CraftsVilla, a huge online marketplace for unique, handcrafted lifestyle products, directly from India’s home-grown artisans.

Products from the remotest of Indian villages available online, ready to be shipped around the globe?

That sounded too good to be true, so I decided to check up a bit more on this unbelievable-sounding initiative. What I found left my mouth agape. CraftsVilla is basically an online bazaar, where partner artisans create their own shop, set their own price, and sell their own products as they please. Craftsvilla has even set up “Craftsvilla Studios” in many parts of the country to help local designers with technical aspects of the process like taking the right kind of photos of their products, uploading, writing eye-catching content etc. The online model gives global exposure to India’s very own local art forms on the one hand, reducing prices by removing middlemen on the other. It’s just pure delight for both buyers and sellers.

As planned, I proceeded straight to the jewellery section. And at last I got what I was looking for. Each piece here is unique, and it talks to you. It has a personality, a mood. In a place like CraftsVilla (and yes it’s a place), that’s only natural I guess, as each product is handcrafted by indigenous craftsmen, for whom art is a way of life.  

I always feel jewellery (or any clothing item or accessory) is not just about making yourself look good. It’s about expressing who you are, and what you’re feeling like at the moment.

Like in this one, for example. Class, confidence and aesthetics have never blended so naturally as they blend in you ;)…

CraftsVilla jewellery

You’re modern and urban, but I know sometimes you like to show off your roots in the boldest, wackiest ways…

CraftsVilla jewellery

You’re simple yet exquisite, honest yet sophisticated. Not everyone can understand you – it takes some depth…

CraftsVilla jewellery

In your heart you’re always that college girl with dreams and the courage to stand out…

CraftsVilla jewellery

Browsing through CraftsVilla’s extensive jewellery range, I stumbled upon its Polki collection. Now I’ve always been fascinated by the art of Polki – by its use of diamond eggs (oh well I mean diamonds which have not yet become diamonds) and the breathtaking boldness of its meenakari. For those of you to whom that sounds like gibberish – Polki an indigenous style of jewellery based on uncut diamonds (called Polki diamonds) which originated in Rajasthan and came into prominence during the Mughal era. Originally Polki designs were based only in gold, but over the years other alloyed jewellery metals have also become mainstream in its designs. Polki pieces are known for their colourful meenkari patterns – a speciality of the district of Bikaner, Rajasthan. In recent times, semi-precious stones like Rose Quartz, Peridots, Tourmalines, Amethysts etc. are also used in Polki designs, in addition to the uncut diamonds.

Craftsvilla Polki artistes have brought this special genre of jewellery to your doorstep through products of diverse moods, hues and styles. If you thought Polki was only about traditional, these designs will make you think again.

This pendant set, for example, with modern designs based on the Polki tradition are perfect for the classiest of your Western formals.

CraftsVilla jewellery

The cool lightweight Polki collections with their exquisite carvings are just what you needed for the days when you feel ethnic. ;)

CraftsVilla jewellery

There’s only one thing that can complement those downright sexy, Saturday evening Polki earrings – your little black dress.

CraftsVilla jewellery

But if you have a Big Fat Indian Wedding coming up and you’re looking for traditional, needless to say you can never exhaust your options in CraftsVilla. The traditional Polki collections that I found here are sure to give you just what you were looking for – the right blend of classic Indian grandeur with contemporary individuality that’s unique to you.

CraftsVilla jewellery

CraftsVilla jewellery

CraftsVilla jewellery

CraftsVilla jewellery

And if you’re a one of those guys who perpetually dream of that elusive classy yet maddeningly sensual gift for her but can never decide on the right mix of class and sensuality – this unique pair of toe-rings is your pick:

CraftsVilla jewellery

You get the point. ;)

If there’s something on Craftsvilla that will mesmerise you even more than the designs – it’s the prices. As you would’ve noticed by now – the wide and exquisite range of Polki collection that’s available to you even at a budget less than Rs. 300 is just mind-blowing. I don’t know about you, but the prices of the sublime pieces around here threw me off my chair.

Affordability, beauty, taste, modernity, heritage – CraftsVilla jewellery offers you almost everything you want when it comes to picking a gift for the most special woman in the world. The final balancing point of all these different factors will, of course, have to be chosen by you and you only (red alert for all you clueless guys with choosy girlfriends/wives :P). Remember, it’s all about conveying your feelings the right way. :)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 2

Emotional abuse in a relationship is a silent killer. The sooner you recognize it and take action, the better for your own mental wellbeing and of those who love you. After 20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 1, in today’s post we deal with the last 10 crucial signs of emotional abuse in your relationship that you should watch out for.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #11. Sexual manipulation

Your partner forces you to engage in sexual acts you don’t like, but not directly. They use manipulative tactics like telling you they want you to explore the limits of sexual pleasure with you. They promise you’d like it. If nothing works, they might even compare you with other people and accuse you of being sexually selfish.

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by taylorsalvatore

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #12. Physical abuse

Naturally, emotional abuse is often accompanied by physical abuse. It may not be regular. Your partner might subtly hint at a possibility of physical violence if you don’t obey them. When an emotional abuser resorts to physical abuse, they usually apologize profusely later, and claim that they “lost control” for a moment. This may be true in some cases, but studies show that if physical violence has occurred once it’s likely to occur again.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #13. Isolation

The abuser repeatedly expresses their disapproval of the certain friends or family members of yours. Usually there’s no clear reason for such malice, apart from your closeness to these particular people. Without saying it in as many words, the abuser hints that avoiding these people would be beneficial to your mental health. Thus, one by one the abuser eliminates your closest people from your life until the only person you’re left with for support is the abuser.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #14. Negative memories

While attacking you verbally, your partner brings up all the old blames. You may have said and done things long back which your partner had no issues with back at the time when they happened. You’d find your partner bringing them up out of nowhere (usually to your utter shock) and criticise them savagely.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #15. Belittling

No matter what you do, your partner mocks your achievements, making you feel stupid for celebrating them. On the other hand they’re vocal about even the smallest of their own achievements. As I’ve already mentioned, an abusive partner hates the idea of sharing power with you in the relationship. They belittle your accomplishments as another attempt at making you feel under-confident and worthless. They hope this would ensure you don’t even consider yourself worthy of sharing power equally in your relationship.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #16. Justification

“Whatever I do is for your benefit.”  That’s the standard line the emotionally abusive partner would parrot when you accuse them of hurting you through some of their acts. They have some fallacious way to make every hurtful act of theirs look like it was meant for your benefit.

“Why do you always oppose me?”

“Because I know what’s best for you.”

“Why do you not let me visit my friends?”

“’Cause I’m crazy for your love and want it all to myself.”

Does that sound familiar?

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by maleekmonroe

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #17. Unrealistic standards

Your partner sets unrealistically high standards for you. Through a verbal web of flattery and romance they convince you that “you’re the best” and they want you to “realize your full potential.” The full potential would usually mean “being the sexiest babe, the best wife and the shrewdest professional all at the same time”. Or some standard of perfection like that. The way they put it is meant to motivate you to want to live up to those standards and feel bad when you fall short. Given the fact that they’re unrealistic, this is meant to keep you in a perpetual abyss of guilt for not being “good enough” for your abusive partner.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #18. Access control

The abuser would restrict your access to important things necessary for survival like money. Their objective is to ensure you have to turn to them for your basic needs. They can even control your phone and internet usage – insisting on going through your messages, calls, emails, online chats etc. This makes sure you can’t tell the truth about the abuse to anyone without the abuser knowing.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #19. Denial

If they catch you reading this list, they’d trash it as “just another piece of BS off the net”. They’d never accept that their behaviour could be abusive, and would go back to every old tactic from blaming you for it to describing abusive acts as “one-off”.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #20. Emotional manipulation

Well that’s one of the things that they could do, if they catch you with this list. A hard-core abuser would of course do what he always does when cornered – turn it back on you. They’d take you through this list point by point and “prove” (fallaciously of course) that each of them applies to you, and in reality it’s you who’s the abuser! Another classic attempt at disorienting your sense of reality and destroying your self-esteem.

If you’re experience emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to recognize it and take charge of your life now. The solution might lie in counselling, detaching yourself temporarily or if nothing works – leaving. Whatever you choose, it must start with calling the spade in your relationship a spade and taking back control – of yourself and your life.

20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 1

Emotional abuse in a relationship is in many ways more dangerous than physical abuse. First, it doesn’t leave visible marks, making it impossible to prove to anyone. Secondly, the marks left by emotional abuse – the ones in your mind, that is – tend to take much longer to heal than those left by physical abuse of similar degree. And third, emotional abuse in a relationship is much less talked about than its physical counterpart, thereby making it difficult to diagnose, even for the victim. Here are some tell-tale signs that will tell you whether you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #1. Fear

You feel so afraid of your partner that at one point you stop protesting anything they say. You avoid certain topics out of fear of annoying them. You’re sometimes forced to lie about your beliefs and intentions as you know if you’re vocal about your true feelings they’d torture you emotionally for hours.

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by dpgrneyz@yahoo.com

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #2. Long lectures

You’re having yet another argument. This time about something so obvious that you’re sure you’ll win this one – there’s no way someone can prove you wrong. Yet, your partner constructs an extremely long string of fallacious logic to prove you wrong, leaving you aghast.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #3. Personal attacks

 Whenever there’s a fight, your partner resorts to personal attacks instead of concentrating on the issue at hand. Instead of saying, “I think I’m doing more than my fair share of household work, I want you to pick up more”, they’d say, “You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever met.”

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #4. Self-esteem loss

They reinforce such negative messages about you so that your self-esteem erodes. They also keep hinting that they’re doing you a huge favour by staying in a relationship with you, because you’re simply unworthy of love. You’re forced to a point where you start believing there’s something deeply wrong with the person that you are start feeling grateful to your partner for loving you.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #5. Self-doubts

He uses manipulative tactics to make you believe things about yourselves, others and the world which you’d never have believed in your right mind. They might even come up with specific instances (and connect them using fallacious logic, of course) to prove you’re mentally unbalanced. At some point you start doubting your own sense of reality.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #6. Responsibility avoidance

Whenever you dare to protest anything your partner does or says, they torture you emotionally for hours. But whenever you try to hold them responsible for their behaviour they put the blame on you. According to them if it wasn’t for a crazy and difficult partner like you, they’d be the most mild, well-mannered person on earth.  

emotional abuse in a relationshipPhoto by Hayley Bouchard

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #7. Extreme jealousy  

Your partner is jealous and hateful of every member of the opposite sex you’ve ever interacted with. They control where you go and what you do. They frequently check up on you. They might even force you to share passwords of your email, Facebook and other online accounts, all in the name of no-holds-barred trust between two people in love.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #8. Two faces  

They seem to have two completely different selves. They’re charming, entertaining, fun around their friends, colleagues and other acquaintances. They’re not out-of-control, they’re careful enough never to treat you badly in front of others. No one apart from you knows the truth about their abusive personality, making it extremely difficult for you to make anyone believe you when you try to ask around for help.  

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #9. Eroding credibility  

Not only is it impossible for you to get their circle of people to believe you, they make sure your own family and friends don’t believe you either. They tend to complain to people close to you about how difficult a person you are. They use biased instances to paint a picture of your relationship that makes even your closest people believe that they’re the oppressed one.

Emotional abuse in a relationship – Symptom #10. Emotional blackmail

They abuse you at every opportunity, but if you try to end the relationship they become very vulnerable. They might cry hysterically or threaten to commit suicide, making it impossible for you to leave.

Does your relationship bear these signs of emotional abuse? If yes, call for help right now.

We’d continue with the rest of the 20 signs in the next post, 20 Signs of Emotional Abuse in a Relationship – Part 2. Until then, share some inspirational stories of redemption from emotional abuse in a relationship by leaving a comment.


Q&A. My Wife Has Had Sex Before Marriage. I’m Devastated. Help!

I’ve been married for three years. It was an arranged marriage. At a very early stage I’d started suspecting that my wife had had sex before marriage. This disturbed me deeply and we’ve had innumerable discussions about this since then.

We live with my parents. Recently others in the family eavesdropped on us and unfortunately managed to listen in on some of our private conversations regarding this issue, i.e. her experience of sex before marriage. This was deeply humiliating and painful for both of us.

My father has recently taunted her with this overheard info first time in three years. I can’t tell you how guilty I feel.

At the same time I can’t drive away the visions of her having sex before marriage with another man. I find myself wondering about the details like how she managed to have sex before marriage with anyone in a small town, how deeply in love she must’ve been to have disregarded the most important family restriction, whether she gave him farewell sex etc.

She hasn’t confessed anything about any sex before marriage to this date in spite of my insistence. Whenever I ask her anything about this she gives vague replies, urging me to move on and look at the future instead of the past. I’d expressed intentions of joining Facebook and connecting with her batch mates in the hope of finding out about her past and whether she had sex before marriage. She vehemently opposed this and refused to give away even the names of her classmates. Incidentally, one of her friends visited us and hinted that my wife is “not as simple as she pretends to be”.

As of today I’ve planned to post questions about her past relationship(s) in the confessions page of her school. I’ve let her know of my intentions. This has made her very nervous and disturbed. Ironically, me too.

In spite of what all this might suggest, I love her. Genuinely. Please help me.


wife sex before marriagePhoto by banzainetsurfer

Sex before marriage? Don’t dwell on it

Normally I would tell you to close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it go. Usually you achieve nothing by finding out the details of your spouse’s sex-life before he/she met you. That kind of probing is guaranteed to make any relationship worse.

However, there’s another aspect to this in your case.

You’ve mentioned one of her friends has tried dropping you hints about her past. The only way knowing everything about one’s spouse’s past life can help is in tackling nosy outsiders like this friend, eager to spill the beans and laugh as the two of you shred your married life to pieces. That’s something you have a right to protect yourself against.

So the middle ground here is to know only as much as is necessary, and in this case you have a right to demand that information from your wife.

What you need to know about sex before marriage

Have an open discussion with her. Tell her first that you love her as she is, and that you have realized that finding out intricate details about her past life is not going to help your relationship. So you don’t want to know any details.
This will put her at ease.
Then mention to her that, at the same time you don’t want to receive info about her past life from outsiders and look like a fool. Between the two of you, you might have issues (every couple has). But to outsiders, you must put up a joint front – you must look like one inseparable unit. Hence you need to know at least what others know – i.e. basics like how many past relationships she’s been in, how many of them she’s had sex with and who was the last. Emphasize that you don’t want to know any details. This would increase her trust in you manifold.

Believe me Anon, you do not need to know any more than this to ward off well-meaning hints and suggestions from outsiders.

At the same time you must promise (her and yourself) never to entertain these advances from outsiders.

How to tackle “sex before marriage” blackmailers

What does not entertaining their advances mean?

wife sex before marriagePhoto by VishalSinghx

It would mean the following:

  • When someone hints to you that they can give you info about your wife’s past life, the first thing you should do is change the topic and discretely make it clear that you don’t want to discuss your wife’s private life with them. Yes, I know it will be difficult to overcome your urges of curiosity in such situations but youhave to do it for the sake of your relationship.
  • If they persist, you might even have to tell that to them in as many words. Tell them, “If there’s anything you want to tell me about my wife, you needn’t, ’cause I already know everything about her. And I’m sure if you had to choose whom to trust between your spouse and anyone else, you’d choose your spouse. Me too. :).” That should kill their excitement as they realize you’re not going to believe anything they say.
  • In the rarest of rare cases, if they directly give you unsolicited information about your wife in spite of your lack of interest, you should stay calm and just say, “I already know the truth”, without confirming whether you believe them or not. (If they’re telling you the truth, they should get the impression that you already know it. If they’re making up lies they should get the impression that you can see through them.)

Sex before marriage is a private issue

Coming to the question of your parents’ reaction – you should remember that your wife is living with your parents. It’s she who’s moved to a new home and made a new family her own, not them. Hence it’s your responsibility to make sure she doesn’t receive unwarranted treatment from them. You have to make it very clear to your parents and the rest of your family that you and your wife respect them and have responsibilities towards them, but your private life is yours. And their interference in it is entirely unwelcome.
Spouses might have the right to ask each other private questions. Their parents and extended families have absolutely none.
But each Indian family works in its own complicated way (don’t take it personally, I know “we’re like that only”;)). I understand it might be impossible for you to convey this to your parents in as many words. If that’s the case, tell them politely (not in front of your wife, of course) that if they have any questions about your wife, they can ask you, not her, and not in front of her.

Let me know what action you took.
All the best. :)

Busting the Top 20 Relationship Myths

“True love conquers all.”

“It was love at first sight.”

“If it’s not forever it’s not love.”

Relationship myths are many. Some harmlessly funny, some dangerously life-destroying if you believe in them.

I thought I’d entertain myself by busting some of the most popular relationship myths this morning. Read on for some laughs and may be a few life lessons.

Relationship myth #1

It’s “true, eternal love” that keeps couples together decade after decade. (Only when added to financial stability, compatibility and lethargy to imagine beyond the status quo.)

relationship mythsPhoto by JanviSharma

Relationship myth #2

Relationships “work themselves out” if “true love” is there. (“True love” is for the first year. At most two. After that it’s consistent, conscious efforts or Goodbye. ;))

Relationship myth #3

If you’re not happy alone, you’ll never be happy in a relationship. (As social animals, humans are programmed by Nature to feel unhappy and lonely when alone. Loneliness is not a thought but an instinct meant to force you to seek out other humans to socialize with. However as intelligent beings, humans can choose to enjoy their singledom instead of sulking through it.)

Relationship myth #4

You’ll “never” be able to forget your ex who just dumped you. (True, you’ll never be able to forget them as long as you continue to focus on them. But you have the option to shift your focus.)

Relationship myth #5

You fell in love “at first sight”. (There’s no such thing as “love at first sight”. There can be “attraction at first sight”, which may or may not turn into a real relationship.)

Relationship myth #6

If you look at someone and feel “This is it!”, it means this is it. (Girl – and I know you’re a girl – run home before you ruin your life! That’s all I can say. It’s compatibility – not whims – that makes relationships work. And when it comes to gauging it, nothing replaces a few years spent together.)

Relationship myth #7

If it’s not “forever” it’s not “love”. (It’s OK to let some things in your life remain perfect. Like memories of a relationship which didn’t culminate into the messy reality of a life together.)

Relationship myth #8

Your life would be so much better “if only” you weren’t in this wretched relationship. (Water the grass on your side to the best of your abilities before you start thinking that the other side is greener. It takes work – not “love and luck” – to make relationships work.)

Relationship myth #9

Being in love is a necessary condition for a successful marriage. (A successful marriage is about making the all-round partnership more value-adding than being alone, for both the partners. The value can be emotional, practical, social, financial or anything else. It can be – and often is – a combination of many of these factors.)

Relationship myth #10

Being in love is a sufficient condition for a successful marriage. (Well, listen to your mother. And read this: Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) & Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2))

relationship mythsPhoto by JanviSharma

Relationship myth #11

Everyone falls in love at least once. (Not everyone is sensitive enough to be able to fall in love. Many people spend their lives in “happy arrangements” called “marriages”. And that includes all marriages of convenience, including but not limited to those arranged by one’s parents. ;) )

Relationship myth #12

Compatibility is a necessary condition for falling in love. (Falling in love per se is a random, mad process. It has got nothing to do with marriage, relationship, stability etc. All these factors complicate it at a later stage.)

Relationship myth #13

Falling in love is a sufficient condition for compatibility. (OMG No! Again, read this: “When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1 & “When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2)

Relationship myth #14

You should get married before you let your relationship become “old” and “boring”. (Only if you’re comfortable taking the biggest decision of your life under the influence of addictive drugs. If you want a stable marriage, spend at least 2 years with each other before deciding to get married.)

Relationship myth #15

While marriage has many disadvantages, some of the biggest advantages are enjoying “true, lasting love”, lifelong romance and sex. (While these things form an important part of a marriage, that part is close to 0.5%. People get married because they crave sharing and companionship).

Relationship myth #16

The low divorce rates in India bear testimony to the fact that arranged marriages foster true compatibility. (It bears testimony to the fact that in India, breaking the bond of marriage – “love” or “arranged” – means a massive loss of face most would do anything to avoid.)

Relationship myth #17

Opposites attract. (As I’ve said many times, it’s compatibility which keeps people together. A certain degree of complementarity can increase compatibility, but extreme divergence – e.g. a firebrand liberal and a diehard conservative – rarely helps create a lasting partnership.)

Relationship myth #18

You’re feeling bored and same-old means you’re not in love with each other. (Boredom and same-old-ness in long term relationships are some of the surest signs of stability)

Relationship myth #19

A relationship is a bond between two people. (A relationship is a chemistry of two families. No, I’m not talking about only the typical Indian version where it’s literally so, but relationships of all forms. Your partner is to a great extent a product of their childhood and their upbringing. You have to understand their childhood and the people they spent it with in order to understand them.)

Relationship myth #20

Incessant fighting means “it’s not working”. (Incessant fighting signifies you still care for and fiercely love each other. It’s when fights stop that the end is near.)

Don’t agree with me? There’s one among the twenty which you’ve found to be true in your life? Bash away in the comments. I’m waiting. ;)

Too Busy to Live? Romance for the Time-strapped

You open your eyes. You’re already late.

You rush to the restroom, kitchen, dining room all at the same time (OK you try). Eventually somehow you hop into something that moves and pray to the traffic to be nice to you until you find yourself at your workplace, thrown raw into the chaos of another crazy day.

I’ve been there. I’d be glad to remember my spouse’s name on days like those, leave alone “spend quality time” with him.

“Time-strapped” is a way of life today. For most of us, there’s no way to avoid it, irrespective of our profession. And in the race for survival, connecting with one’s family or spouse is often not the first thing on one’s mind.  

Is there any way out of this rut? Here are some tips for finding time for yourself and your spouse in the midst of the delirium.

Romance for busy couplesPhoto by hartboy

  1. Prioritize: In the mad rat race to the elusive “top”, we often forget the real important thing – people. Make sure you’re not making this mistake. Make a list of your usual day-to-day activities. Commuting to work, work, household chores, cooking, watching TV, going to the gym … include every tiny thing. Now take a long, hard look at it. Is every single item on that list equally important? I don’t know about you, but for most, they aren’t. Is it possible to cut-down on watching TV to find a little more time for things which are a little more important? … After this exercise many “busy” people realize they’re not busy at all. :D
  2.  “Us” time: When was the last time you talked about anything other than grocery lists, jobs, kids, the traffic and the latest Bollywood release? But Surprise! Surprise! These are not the best romance enabling topics of the world. “Us” time is meant to force you to turn the necessary off and the romantic on. It’s a tiny 10 minute block that you set aside everyday – only for each other, for romance, for talking about the little nothings of life, for connecting. No, that doesn’t include connecting with laptops, iPads, phones or other kids.
  3. Family dinner: Whatever you do, you can’t miss having dinner together. Every single evening. Rituals are powerful and a simple “family ritual” like this strengthens familial bonds – between couples as well as larger families with kids. Try keeping the TV switched off during at least one dinner per week. Being forced to talk to each other is a great way of bringing yourselves together.
  4. Romance for busy couplesPhoto by Thynk – Coaching en Alicante – Formación empresar

  5. Dinner dates: Go on a dinner date on a Friday. Instead of meeting at home first, meet directly at the restaurant. The anticipation of waiting for him/her, the excitement of meeting them at an enjoyable environment outside the home bring back the freshness of your initial dating days (besides saving commuting time ;)).  
  6. Lunch dates: In most cities of the world the business district is concentrated in a particular area of the city. If you’re lucky and your workplaces are nearby, how about meeting up for lunch? Besides scraping up more couple time out of your day, this provides you a much needed stress buster midway through your crazy workday.
  7. Stay in touch always: A simple “Have you had your lunch?” or “Just beat the deadline…done and dusted…” from time to time in the midst of your busy work schedule can give a sense of being by each other’s side all the time.

Are there any homemade strategies you and your spouse use to get rid of the too-busy-to-live syndrome? Do share with others by leaving a comment. 

Q&A: My Mother Feels Hurt by my Girlfriend’s Family. How to Make Things Work?


I don’t know how to start this story, but let me just start by saying I love my mother. I never had a great relationship with my father and it’s her hard work, dedication, parental love – whatever you call it – that makes me stand where I stand today.

Lion cub in mum's jawsPhoto by klehmkuhl

I now live and work in the US. Four years back I met my girlfriend (let’s call her AK), a half North Indian-half Bengali born and brought up in the US. Her parents ran away from home and married against their parents’ wishes, though later reconciled and now share good relations with their families. I’m glad to have them in my life – they’ve accepted our relationship fully and are very supportive of me.

Recently we started thinking of marriage. I arranged a meeting between my mother and sister and AK’s parents back in India. Neither AK nor I was present in this meeting.

Unfortunately the meeting didn’t last for even 5 min.  My mother was apparently outraged by the way AK’s mother treated her, and also by her attire which my mother deemed inappropriate for a public place.

Later I started hearing different accounts of the event from my mother, sister and AK’s mother. My mother is very angry at the moment and has gone to the extent of telling me to maintain a distance from AK and her family, suggesting they’re the “clever”, “bling-bling” type and not suitable for a guy like me. 

I really love AK and both of us have given a lot to this relationship. But on the other hand I have no clue as to how to placate my mother and start talking to her meaningfully about it.

I don’t want to hurt my mother by going against her wishes. Understandably, AK doesn’t want to force her way into an unwelcoming family either.

I can’t let either of the two people I love the most in this world become the biggest source of sorrow to the other. Please help me.

–          BG, North Carolina


Hi BG, 

Thank you for writing in. 

There are two important questions here:

  1. Should you get married to your current girlfriend?
  2. If yes, how should you proceed?

Let’s look at #1.

There are a couple of issues at play here.

First of all, AK’s family is settled abroad. Her parents are very liberal people, given the fact that they’re an interracial couple who ran away from home, one generation ago. Going by your description, your family seems to be quite traditional. Hence there’s a huge cultural gap between your family and AK’s. One of the reasons for your mother’s outrage is this.

While you may be settling abroad after marriage and your wife may not have to interact much with your mother, are you sure your traditional upbringing and her liberal upbringing will not lead to clashes at some point?

You might consider yourself liberalized. But we can never fully overcome the influences of our childhood even if we want, and deep inside you might hold traditional beliefs, attitudes and worldviews which neither you nor AK are aware of today. Your long relationship would of course have helped you understand each other to a great extent. But you need to do some soul-searching to find out such possible points of disconnect between the two of you (Why not start with listing down the things about AK’s family that you don’t like?). And she needs to do the same. Also discuss this with her parents openly, if you think they can help. Marriage is a BIG decision, and being uncomfortable now is better than making a mistake.

If after the exercise you’re still convinced you’re made for each other, we can move to Question #2.

We know your mother’s reaction to the whole situation.

I understand your parents are either separated or not very close to each other. Your mother loves her son (you) more than anything else. All her life she’s struggled to make sure he reaches where he is today. Naturally, he’s the core of her life.

In such a situation it’s most natural to feel paranoid – at least subconsciously – about someone else (AK) assuming importance in his life.

Inside, your mother is feeling insecure. She’s afraid she’d cease to hold as much importance to you as she holds today, if you marry someone you’ve fallen in love with (as opposed to someone chosen by her and/or the rest of your family). Add to that the fact that the girl’s family is very modern, enlightened, etc. This is intimidating to your mother. She’s afraid you’ll get so enamoured by their sophistication, progressive attitude etc. that you’ll draw closer and closer to them, forgetting her. Of course she also has the real fears of you experiencing a culture shock if you marry into this family (the concern I mentioned earlier).

Saas bahuPhoto by Shrihari

Let me tell you first off that arranging a meeting between the two mothers as a starter to this relationship was a mistake. You should’ve told her four years ago that there’s someone you like. You should have gone on to talk about her with your mother over all of your calls over the next one year. Eventually you should have let AK and your mother interact telephonically over the next couple of years before you let the girl’s parents meet her. Check this: How to Impress your Girlfriend/Boyfriend’s Parents

However what’s past is past. Now your job is to allay your mother’s fears. You can try the following:

  1. Empathize: Do not mention anything about AK to your mother for a few days now. She’s hurt (quite understandably). Right now your responsibility is to be by her side. For the next few days call her more often than usual. Talk to her very lovingly. No need to bring up the girl’s mother incident (that will lead to more negative emotions on the part of both of you) but ask her often how she’s feeling, how her day was etc. She must feel her pain is as much yours as hers.
  2. Explain: Whenever you think your mother has recovered from this incident, apologize profusely for it. Subsequently tell her gently that she’s totally justified in her reaction given the impression of the girl’s family that she got, but you’ve interacted with them for years and they’re very good people (I hope that’s what you believe ;)). Give her a few instances of the care for you that they’ve shown over the years (may be you have dinner with them often, or they help you with your settling down challenges in a new country… ). In the end repeat to your mother that you’re very disappointed by the way things turned out in their very short meeting and you’re trying to understand why the girl’s family acted in the way they did (even if you’re not doing this ;) ). The objective here is to make your mother believe that you understand her pain and are not suffering from the “son is a son until he takes a wife” syndrome.
  3. Help them become friends: Your mother will not react favourably to the above approach the first time. Keep trying it from time to time (Don’t do it in every conversation – you’ll lose her trust). In the meantime keep mentioning AK casually every now and then. (AK topped her class… AK makes such delicious cakes… AK gave me a beautiful sweater, I’ll send you photos of it… ). Also get AK to say hi to your mother sometime. One very important word of caution – do not make up nice stuff about her to impress your mother, highlight only the real positive aspects of her. Otherwise there will be expectation mismatches and severe strains within the family later. On the same note, encourage AK to be herself – instead of going out of her way to be impressive – while she’s on call with your mother.
  4. Don’t overdo it: Always remember, half of your battle is already won. Your mother, at the end of the day, wants your happiness more than anything else. The very fact that she’d agreed to meet the girl’s family in spite of the fact that they’re settled abroad and are – well – very different from your own is a sign that she’s at least OK with the marriage in principle. So just make sure you take it very carefully from here on. There is no need to put in unnecessary extra efforts – just let things flow naturally while ensuring no further damage occurs.

Let me know how things go. All the best. :)