The episode made us realize that in order to be in a happy relationship, one cannot look for contentment outside. It either comes from within or it doesn’t. We only complicate things when we involve third parties.

We Considered Opening Up Our Marriage

Shalini and I had been dating since class 9, we got married once we got our first jobs, and we celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this year. So we have basically been together for 16 years. When we compare ourselves to friends, there’s no one quite like us. We are basically best friends. We know everything about each other and are extremely honest about how we feel. We assume the best of each other, so there’s hardly ever any misunderstanding. But just like knowing someone for that long has its advantages, it also has its dilemmas. Both of us often wondered if we had missed out on things in life because of being together. Our friends would tell us about their many sexual escapades, stories of crazy exes and all the experiences that they’ve gathered over time - and we had nothing to tell them in return - just funny episodes with each other. 

‘Do you think we should have explored a bit before getting married?’ Shalini asked me one evening while doing her night skin routine. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Don’t pretend, I know you too well - if I am wondering this, you must be wondering too’, she said to me. I just laughed and said, ‘sure’. The truth was, I was very much in love with her and I never felt like I had missed out on another person, experiences perhaps, but not another woman. But I knew that she was opening up about something so I agreed with her so that she felt comfortable. 

‘Adhiraj, we’ve been having the same sex for the last 14 years, don’t you feel we should add some spice to it now? Perhaps open up our marriage for a bit, meet other people and come back to each other? Doesn’t the thought excite you? There will be jealousy, lust, possessiveness and that will help us reignite our lost fire?’ Shalini’s monologue finished, but I was at a loss of words. I really didn’t know what to say to her. For the first time in so many years, we were clearly not on the same boat. I didn’t say much to her, just that I needed time to think about this, but I stayed up all night.

‘Jealousy, possessiveness’ - her words kept echoing in my head. Was toxicity the only way we could ultimately attain bliss as a couple? I wanted to understand her emotions, but I was failing. My wife wanted to cuddle with someone else, to feel better about being with me, and wanted me to do the same - I just could not wrap my head around this idea, but I did not want to stop her either. So the next morning, during breakfast, I told her I was okay with what she wanted to do, and decided to have certain ground rules. ‘We don’t talk about our dates’, she exclaimed. Wow! This woman had done her research and was ready to date again. I was so uncomfortable, but I complied with the rules she made for the both of us. 

Days passed and things started getting awkward between us. We had started speaking less, got inquisitive every time the other’s phone buzzed, I had started imagining her having sex with other men and every guy I would see at work or in the mall, I would think of as her Tinder date. A month went by, and there was no sign of the excitement in our marriage that she had promised. So one evening - I decided to host an intervention for us. This is something we have been doing since college. Every time life situations got overwhelming, one of us would host an intervention evening to sort things out together. And I knew that this was the need of the hour. 

I texted her from work saying ‘Intervention Evening’ tonight. See you at home at 7. When I reached home, Shalini was waiting with a bottle of wine. I sat across the table from her and asked her how her dating life was going. She got all awkward and said ‘I thought we were not going to talk about that’. I immediately apologized and got to the point. ‘I feel we have stopped communicating. This opening up of our marriage is making things kinda awkward.’ I saw an expression of relief on her face. ‘Oh my god! I feel so awkward too. I want to kill the woman you’re dating. I can’t even imagine going on a date with anyone, how can you?’ She started crying. ‘What? Me? I am not dating anyone. I thought you were because you proposed this’. I argued. ‘Oh so now it's my fault? You agreed so promptly. You’re the one who seems so interested when your friends talk about the number of women they have dated.’ She yelled at me. ‘I cannot believe you’re making this about me, Shalini, you said you wanted to do this for some strange kind of excitement.’ I yelled back.

That was it. I wasn’t going to let this stupid topic bother my relationship anymore. ‘Babe, I can’t even think of seeing anyone else. The past one month was a torture for me.’ I told Shalini. ‘So then why did you not try to have sex with me?’ She asked. ‘Because I thought you were into other men and did not fancy me any more!’ I explained. ‘I didn’t because I thought you’re with other women. I am so sorry I proposed this, it was so unnecessary’. We both apologized to each other and made up that night.

That episode made us realize that in order to be in a happy relationship, one cannot look for contentment outside. It either comes from within or it doesn’t. We only complicate things when we involve third parties. This attempt took a toll on both our self-esteem and mental health. I am relieved that we could resolve it peacefully, but we could have gone down a rabbit hole had it not been for our ‘intervention’.

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Teesta Rajan
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