On the face of it, it’s romantic. Married man or woman meets someone else, falls in love, has an affair in secret, comes to the conclusion that this person is his or her real true love, and decides to stay with her or him.
But is passion enough to keep the couple together?
"Marriage is a difficult proposition in any case," says Delhi-based marriage counsellor Shrishti Garg. "And when it’s a marriage between people who fell in love with each other while they were married to other people, the scenario gets unimaginably complicated."
There are many reasons for falling in love outside a marriage. Some people may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship and so look for love elsewhere. Some people may have outgrown the relationship and are ripe for romance with someone else. And some people may simply have fallen out of love with their original partner. Whatever the reason, say experts, the person almost always carries a hangover of the previous marriage into the new one.
An extra-marital affair, say experts, is always thrilling when compared to the monotony of married life. Until of course the couple in the extra-marital affair get married and then reality bites.
Same old, same old
Myth- It is full of passion and it’ll be happy ever after
Truth- Every marriage falls into a routine. So will this!
Journalist Ruhaan and homemaker Shweta Awasthi’s marriage was the culmination of three years of relentless pursuit, passionate rendezvous, heart-wrenching partings because she couldn’t divorce her husband and his parents wouldn’t hear of him dating a married woman. Finally, the two decided they couldn’t live without each other and broke off with everyone who disagreed with them. Against all odds, they got married. And they were deliriously happy – for exactly two years.
“The mad passion just faded,” says Shweta. “It was just so regular. Ruhaan stopped making those 50 calls from the office, saying he was desperate to come to me. I wasn’t that eager to please him every time. And everything we thought we understood about each other earlier became a point of argument. Love and even lust vanished. We couldn’t take the monotony anymore.”
Shweta and Ruhaan divorced after five bitter years. They do not want to see each other again, ever.
Myth - He/she has always loved me. I am perfectly secure.
Truth - He/she ditched their partner for me. Will I be the next to be ditched?
Experts say that a marriage made after an extra-marital affair is always dogged by a deep sense of insecurity.
"The insecurity stems from the fact that if the person could leave his or her spouse and maybe children for you, then there’s nothing to stop her or him from betraying you too," says clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany.
These inner demons never die and the stress can often become too hard to handle, say experts. Interior designers Neha and Amar Mehrotra fell in love while working together. Both were married, but that didn’t stop them from getting together for life. But it didn’t take long for insecurities to crop up.
"Neha is becoming psychotic," declares Amar. "She wants to know my movements every 10 seconds. She keeps telling me that if I could cheat once, I can cheat again. The fact that she is in the same boat doesn’t occur to her and I can’t demean her. So I just keep quiet. But I don’t know how long I’ll be able to take it." Shadow of guilt
Myth - It’s not my fault
Truth - Somewhere in the subconscious lies the deep seeded guilt of breaking up a home.
While you keep telling yourself that you weren’t responsible for the heartbreak and justify your extra-marital affair by talking of the unreasonableness of love, it’s very difficult to get over the guilt of breaking up a home. "Especially if there was really no big reason for the extra-marital affair other than just falling out of love with your previous spouse," says Hingorrany.
Lecturer Smita Marwah could never really forgive herself for destroying her husband’s earlier family life. "It wasn’t very apparent but after I married my colleague who was already married when we met, life became very stressful," she says. "Especially because his ex-wife took it very badly. Though I tried to normalise things, I couldn’t really be happy. It was as though she was always between us. So I had to move out and now I sleep in peace. He hasn’t gone back to his former wife but at least he feels less guilty."
A relationship, say experts, needs to be handled with care. So, all judgements aside, when a relationship starts on a sticky wicket in the first place, you need to be fully padded to be able to play the full innings.
Myth- Everything becomes normal after the wedding vows
Truth- Family and friends may never be able to accept your extra-marital affair and marriage.
In situations where people have come together by breaking hearts as well as familial and society norms, they should be prepared to tough it out alone.
“The two people involved are generally prepared for non-acceptance from parents and immediate family. But what often comes as a blow is the unforgiving attitude of friends,” says Shrishti Garg. “Most people build up support structures with friends. So when friends take the side of the jilted spouse and do not accept the new love, relationships can break. Often this creates bitterness between couples as well, because one tends to blame the other for the loss.”
From HT Brunch, February 5
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