marriage separation
February 26, 2011 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Differences with wife.

Hi All, I will try to make it short as possible. I am late thirties Indian gay man married. I got married in 2007 on a visit to India (at that point living in NYC) due to family pressure and emotional blackmail from parents (Especially mother and sister). I agreed to get married on the condition that they tell the girl about me being gay and if she agrees then I will get married. She is told about this and I have a talk with her about me being gay and feelings of same sex attraction but I guess she did not realize the big picture of what it really meant. Another reason probably she was younger to me than 9 years. And I wanted to get married thinking perhaps I am missing something. In addition, I aspired to have a kid. Anyhow all this happened very fast.
We have a quick arrange marriage. She travels to US in feb 2008 and soon after is pregnant with baby. I try to involve her with my gay friends and try to keep as much balance as we can. She is good friends with my boy friend (whom I met Oct 2007) until our son was born. Inbetween we use to have small arguments but nothing serious.
After the son, she wanted me to become straight in the sense that I try 100% in the marriage and started objecting to my sexuality. This caused a gap in communication and problems as a result she goes back to India in May 2009 with the baby.
Now I am back in India and it has been many times that her parents have threatened us with dire consequences (police action) if we do not mend things between us. Everyone is aware of the central issue but no one tries to understand it.The time that we were away from eachother we mostly communicated through emails. I adore and love my son. I have always been financially supportive to her and friendly. I live in Delhi and she in another state with her parents and not very far from my parents. I go visit them every second weekend. Now her and mine parents insist that we start all over again but I see no reason that it can work out. IT IS NOT FAIR TO HER.
My question is should I suggest marriage counselling to her? Should I first take legal advice.? I really want to be a good friend to her and ensure she is happy and so is our son. Should we try again for the sake of our son, but I know it will not be fair to her. It is hard for women in India, but I am willing to support her anyway I can. My parents fear the marriage laws in India which are very pro-woman. They can put us in jail with a simple phone call and police will not even listen to us. What should I do that everyone is allright. ?

Sorry for the long note.
posted by jassi to Human Relations (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You're gay, so no amount of counseling is going to reverse that. Sure, you could go to marriage counseling, but it won't make you someone you're not.

Do you have the option of leaving the country? I know that sounds drastic, but compared to going to jail, it might be a better option.
posted by Gilbert at 7:40 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything about the laws where you are, nor do I have advice about what sort of arrangement you should come to.

Still, specifically regarding the jail threat: it may be worth seeing a lawyer (and getting a second opinion) regarding what rights you may have and what you can do to prevent jail time or to get the police to listen to you in the event that you need them to. Also, it's possible your in-laws might be a bit more cautious about throwing around threats if they know you have legal representation. But maybe not; that depends on their personality.

Are you in India for work? Would your company also stand up for you if you were in trouble?
posted by mail at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: I'm sorry you're going through this. How does divorce work in India? Does it mean you'll never see your child again?

I suspect your wife began to feel very vulnerable after the baby was born--she now has a child with a man whom she knows would not have married her if you didn't have to. She wanted you to be straight because she is probably terrified of being abandoned or cast off with a child, and probably because she's terribly lonely--it is probably much more difficult for a young mother to find a steady boyfriend than it is for you. With as much pressure to marry as you faced, I think any young man she finds to keep her company will face the same, making it difficult for him to commit. So she probably wants to strengthen the ties she knows she can count on--namely, with you.

Marriage counseling for you both is a good first step--not to fix the marriage, but to help you decide whether to continue the marriage or divorce. You have to talk to each other honestly and make sure you both understand what exactly you both want and need out of this marriage. If it's a marriage of convenience for you both, you need to set down rules. Otherwise, you need to figure out how to arrange the divorce so you can still see your son.

Good luck. I don't think there is a completely happy ending to this story, but I hope you guys can work something out.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

Oh yikes, OP. What a difficult situation. I agree with vincele about making this anonymous.

I think consulting a lawyer would be a good idea, with the caveat that you need to make sure you find someone who will respect confidentiality. Ethical standards aren't enforced remotely strongly enough for you to count on that. Perhaps there's a lawyer that someone in the gay community there could recommend?

If your wife finds that living in a marriage with a gay man is not as doable as she thought it would be, I have a hard time thinking that a marriage counselor could help save the marriage. That said, whatever happens, you two will need to continue to be connected to each other, by virtue of your son. So I guess I agree with thinkingwoman, that a counselor might still be able to help you find a way forward.

I also think that perhaps you should consult a counselor individually, if only to help sort out what it is that you actually want out of this situation.

Additionally, you need to find out what your wife wants out of this situation. Is she educated enough, "worldly" enough to understand that you're not going to stop being gay? If she thinks that this is simply a matter of choice, then you are up against something more difficult than otherwise. Is she afraid of loss of support?

I'm not at all clear on what negative repercussions you are fearing from the 'marriage laws in India which are very pro-woman,' so perhaps someone else can speak to that. Is it custody that you are worried about, or financial implications?

There isn't going to be an easy solution here, as I'm sure you understand, really. I don't think your in-laws will back off simply by virtue of your getting a lawyer. But you still need to know where you stand, legally.

If leaving the country is an option, you might want to consider that. On the other hand, that would probably hurt your chances of seeing your son.

Good luck with sorting all of this out.
posted by bardophile at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2011

I admire how deeply honest you've been throughout this difficult situation, and it is tragic that there seems to be no easy way to take care of everyone's needs and desires in this complex scenario.

First, I would safeguard your legal situation, because having a father in jail will not help your son now or in the future. It is heartbreaking that you cannot simply be truthful, face the reality of the situation, be kind to your wife, and stay close to your son. But it looks like this simply may not be possible in India. Good luck. I recommend that you take care of your legal status (leaving India if there is no other way to be safe), and try to maintain as close a relationship with your son as possible under these difficult circumstances.

I don't know if they could help, but there is an organization focusing on gay rights advocacy in India, Naz Foundation (it is a bit focused on HIV, but also played a big role in repealing the law criminializing homosexuality, and may have some useful resources or referrals for you). Much luck and strength to you.
posted by wombat stork at 8:09 AM on February 26, 2011

Best answer: From what you've said, you have done nothing wrong here. Everyone was informed of the true nature of this marriage.

While your son will benefit from your future presence in his life, he will in no way benefit from his parents pretending to be in a married household relationship. In fact, the tension would probably have a negative effect on him. I don't think you should continue attempting to live with your wife, although you may wish to live in a region where you can easily visit your son.

After acknowledging that you do not and will never have a marriage based on personal attraction, only you and your wife (and a lawyer) can decide if a divorce is in your best interests. I wish the best of luck to you and your family! Your son is fortunate to have two parents who love and care about him.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:08 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I JUST realized metafilter may not be the best venue for this and other questions since there is a HUGE american bias in the answers.

I do not have an answer for you, but I can tell you that if you do things for others which sacrifice your own core will only get worse, not better.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:01 AM on February 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thankyou for your opinion and support. There is a law in India called 498a which was basically made to protect woman but now people misuse it. My wife she is educated but having raised in an environment she is does not really believe in divorce. I only want to get into counselling so that lot of air inbetween us is cleared and she could see through this situation. I will take a stand but I am concerned about my parents and immediate family but I believe an open communication is essential in this which I will try to do always. Dicorce anywhere always causes financial implications but I am willing to go through this. I do not want to leave the country for ever because I want to be around my son. I can only hope for the best. Thanks again.
posted by jassi at 10:19 AM on February 26, 2011

If you can get back out of the country, one where your gayness is subject to blackmail (ie coming back to the US) this would remove one problem. Responsibility wise, marrying the wife was a whoopsy, but she knew what she was getting into. Of course there may have been parental pressures from his end (among many things) as well, and the villains seem to be the culture you're dealing with and ignorance of homosexuality. You aren't going to stop being gay. People involved need to know it's not a phase.

Does the wife actually have a problem with your lifestyle or is it her parents and yours hopping up and down and screaming that they don't like it? By western standards you've met all obligations (warm, supportive and loving father- you'd be getting a medal here!) but if I would guess there's more issue with preserving people's good names, if your problem is anything like the rest of my peers from the south Asian sub continent.

Could everyone be happy if you created a sort of "in the closest" household, where you lived with her and did all the good husband stuff you took on as a responsibility -but- she was okay with you wanting and having a boyfriend? Is the problem that you're gay or that they worry about the appearance of propriety? Or both?

I understand that the stick that's being held over you is marital abandonment. What part of being gay bothers your wife and why did she marry you, knowing you had this serious draw back? Did she think it was a personality quirk like being a partier or was she so desperate for a husband she decided to compromise? Basically is this her problem or your parents' promblem?
posted by Phalene at 10:36 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess I do not want to lead a double life. It is very hard. So many men in India live a married life but play with other men on the side without their wife's knowing about it. I can do that too but it is not fair for the wife and just too hard to live this way. Yes everyone will be happy if I lived a closeted life but I cannot live that way.

I know I thought I could keep a balanced life but perhaps I thought it all wrong to start with. I thought I could live happily with a wife and boy friend. She was young and it charmed her to get married to someone and travel abroad. She thought it was a phase which will go away slowly. I do not blame her. I blame the situation which got created that time. I guess I just have to work towards a way which is not hard for both the sides though it will take some time. So hard to keep everyone happy.
posted by jassi at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2011

I guess I'm having a hard time seeing how you can remain married and remain in India, and not lead a double life. Realistically, you probably can't, in India, be openly gay and still married. Particularly to a woman who wants you to have a normative heterosexual marriage. Something has to give somewhere.

So hard to keep everyone happy.

I think it is generally unrealistic to think that everyone can be kept happy, particularly so when there are such diametrically opposed sets of desires and needs at play. I would respectfully recommend that you give up the attempt to keep everyone happy, and to settle for behaving honourably towards all parties, yourself included. There ARE going to be terribly hurt feelings here. You can't avoid that.
posted by bardophile at 11:42 AM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
My question is should I suggest marriage counseling to her?

YOU need counseling if "balanced life" is the best reasoning you could come up with. I think it was because you wanted to have your cake and eat it too: have a b/f and a wife to have kids. It may make you feel better for others to validate that you "did nothing wrong" but you are in this trouble for doing something wrong.

So here is what looks like is happening- You married the woman and told her you were gay and she probably thought she could "change" you. If not after marriage then after kids and so on. And it looks like that is what she tried to do. Now the family thinks they can "change" you by pressuring you and threatening you with police action.

Should I first take legal advice.?...My parents fear the marriage laws in India which are very pro-woman. They can put us in jail with a simple phone call and police will not even listen to us.

I don't know if Indian laws are pro-women (bride burning wouldn't be so rampant if they were) but I bet if she loses a point for being one, you lose two for being gay. The best you can do is to try to find a pro-gay lawyer who has handled such cases before. And, I don't think you would be the first case either if this is to be believed -

I really want to be a good friend to her and ensure she is happy and so is our son. Should we try again for the sake of our son, but I know it will not be fair to her. It is hard for women in India, but I am willing to support her anyway I can. What should I do that everyone is allright. ?

Your wife doesn't want your friendship. She wants a heterosexual man and she wants you to start acting like one. Your wife, her family and your family want you to be this husband and family man you promised to be when you got married. Why is that so hard to comprehend?? They are NOT going to quit pressuring you till you give in.

Whatever you do, BE RESPONSIBLE. And don't be or let your wife/child be another statistic!
posted by jessamyn at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2011

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