I have been married for 11 years and I have three wonderful kids ages 9, 7 and 18 months. After the birth of my third child I had post natal depression and I’m just out of therapy and my doctor says I am fine now. My problem is that I feel I am not in love with my husband any more, I am not attracted to him, I find him boring and sometimes annoying. Our marriage was arranged, we never knew each other before the engagement but we were given a chance to meet and see if we like each other. I feel that if my father hadn’t pressured me I might have said no back then. At this point in my life I feel that I have always let my father make all the serious decisions in my life including who to marry. At the age of 34 I know myself better and I know what I want out of life but its too late to change anything. My husband is dedicated to me and the kids and he provides us with a good life, he’s really not a bad guy. I want this family to stay together and I will do everything I can to guarantee my children’s happiness, but I feel that as a person and as a woman I am not fulfilled. What can I do?
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Not coming from a culture that involves arranged marriages, I must confess up front that probably don’t understand how they work within their culture. Please forgive me if I get this wrong. Having properly warned all of my ignorance, here is what I think. Basically, an arranged marriage is not primarily about fulfilling the needs of any particular spouse, but rather about asserting the primacy of the family (both the extended family that arranges the marriage in the first place, and the family that is created via the arranged marriage) over the needs of any particular participant. The idea of personal fulfillment and romantic love (which is so popular in the west) seems out of place in the context of arranged marriages, or at least is of secondary concern. I find much to admire in the idea of asserting the needs of the family over the needs of the individual. I think far too many people today get divorces or otherwise sabotage their families for selfish reasons. On the other hand, I (being a product of my culture) am a firm believer that people should be able to look to their spouses as a source of fulfillment (sexually, emotionally, etc.). I don’t recommend that you do anything to jeopardize your marriage. However, don’t underestimate the force that you can have within the marriage to reshape things so that you will be happier. Assuming your husband is not a violent, authoritarian, paternalistic bastard (and you say he is not), why don’t you talk openly and honestly with him about what you are going through and what you want? If you are bound together in marriage, you can either allow isolation to grow between you, or you can actively promote intimacy. I vote for promoting intimacy and that will require open honest communication. He may not come around at first, but given time, there is a good chance he will move. Water carves deep grooves in rock over time even though water seems an unlikely cutting force. Talk with him and lay it all out. Tell him you want to be more fulfilled, and what will need to change for this to happen. If you treat yourself like an equal partner, he will be hard pressed to not accept you as one. If you begin to be abused by this man, this will be a different story; it will then be time to explore ways to get out of the marriage. Courage, and good luck to you.