Woe Is Me! “My Husband‑to‑Be Lied About His Health Issues. Should I Still Marry Him?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I recently found out that the man I was about to get engaged to (via arranged means) lied about certain health issues like tremors and forgetfulness. This happened five days before the engagement, and my parents are devastated. I don’t really know if I should leave or stay?“
— Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now
AS: That’s a tough question – I see you, and I raise you a couple of questions. First, if you’re considering leaving, what part of this is the (bigger) deal breaker for you? Is it the health issues or the lying? I think asking this question will help you be sure of your own feelings, as opposed to just relying on what your parents feel. Of course, I’d say the lying is much more serious, because it sets a shaky foundation for what may be a lifelong commitment. My follow up question would be, how did you find out? Did your fiancé tell you himself? If yes, I think he deserves a little credit (only a little) for his honesty and it’s possible there’s room for resolution through open communication. After all, it’s just the beginning of your relationship and I think it’s normal for people to be slow at opening up about their issues and vulnerabilities. But if he was consciously trying to hide this, then it’s a big red flag – in that case, I’d say just leave.
LG: I’m less concerned with your parents’ devastation than yours … or lack thereof. You seem more confused than anything, and I have to admit, I am too — because tremors and forgetfulness don’t strike me as make-or-break health problems. They don’t strike me as health problems at all, in fact. I have a terrible memory — I forget where I’ve put things the moment I set them down; I’m terrible at remembering names and dates; my husband complains all the time that he’s told me something five times already and I still act like I’m hearing the news for the first time. But this has nothing to do with my health. And tremors could be simply because he hasn’t eaten in a while and his blood sugar has taken a dip. You say you’ve found out about these issues — how? From the man himself? Or from a third party? If so, have these issues been diagnosed as a health problem? Do you feel you know all the details of his current health? If not, there’s only one way to find out: If this man is going to be your husband, you need to be able to have frank discussions about health — his and yours. And now seems like a good time to start that habit. Ask him directly about your concerns — what causes his forgetfulness and tremors, how frequent they come, whether he’s seen a doctor about them, what the doctor said, whether you can go along to an upcoming appointment, etc. Whether you should stay with him or leave rests both on his responses as well as how candid you feel he is being with you.
If you do feel you have all the details you need, well — concealing a significant health problem from a future spouse seems like an ill way to start a marriage. Marriages are only successful when there is mutual trust.
KB: This is not even debatable — leave. The deception alone is deeply concerning. A major health issue — which it sounds like this is — can be debilitating for a spouse and the entire household. It’s not the sort of thing that is reasonable to leave for someone to figure out on their own after entering into a marriage. It feels like there was likely purposeful deception on the part of your fiance and his parents, which would leave me with serious apprehensions about the type of household you’re marrying into and the respect they have for you as an autonomous individual. And then there’s the symptoms themselves — they sound very serious, and they sound like exactly the type of symptoms that could progress, and could have a long term cognitive component. If that is the case, you are about to marry someone who not only lied to you, but may be trying to deceive you into committing to his long term care without you knowingly consenting to it. This has warning signs — the giant, flashing, blaring siren type of signs — all over it. Don’t stay.
DR: Three words: Break. It. Off.
While I don’t think health concerns should ever be a reason to reject someone, in this case, it’s about dishonesty. You mentioned that he “lied” about it — that suggests active suppression of facts, and not simply that he thought it wasn’t relevant enough, or that it just didn’t come up. So, tell me, do you think it’s a wise decision to start a partnership built on a bed of lies (apologies for being dramatic)? No, right? Then, there’s your answer.
I understand that the Indian arranged marriage circuit is a very, very shallow universe, where people are judged on arbitrary parameters like religion, caste, height, annual income — none of which can guarantee a true partnership. Granted that in this shallow space, perhaps your fiancé was worried about being rejected if he brought up his health issues. But, (a) that cannot mean that he resorts to hiding it from you; and (b) it was his choice to take the arranged marriage route, knowing its pitfalls fairly well. I also understand that his family may have advised him against bringing this up with you before you tied the knot with him — yes, that would reflect poorly on your future in-laws, but maybe they’re blinded by parental love for their son, sure — but he could’ve brought it up with you in confidence. Clearly, the fact that you’re still considering this rishta instead of breaking up your engagement with him, goes on to show that the health concerns aren’t a deal-breaker for you.
At this point, I don’t think you should even care whether his condition is treatable, or can have a bearing on your lives — because his health isn’t the ground on which you’d be backing out of this engagement, if you take my advice. The fact that he chose to “lie” about it is what makes it a deal-breaker. Good luck!
RD – There are no easy answers here. I get that you feel blindsided, but I also see how a chronic illness can be stigmatized in arranged marriage processes that instills fear in people and prevents them from disclosing something like this. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you like the guy. Meaning, there was probably something there that made you say yes, right? Does that go away because you found out some of his symptoms? If it were me, I’d weigh my depth of feeling and attraction toward the person versus how much you’re prepared to engage with and contribute to his care (if he needs it). You’re not a bad person if you choose to walk away, but he is also not necessarily not marriageable because he didn’t disclose something like this up front. Of course, trust is something major you should be concerned about going forward, if you choose to do so. Good luck.