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Is it too much to ask?
Marriage is a merger of two minds. Whether it is a love marriage or an arranged marriage, urban men and women are increasingly finding it difficult to reconcile the differences in each other’s outlook towards how life should be after marriage.
Most men agree spontaneously to a prospective bride’s desire to work after marriage BUT neither partner realizes that a working couple has different lives compared to what they may have seen off their parents. This more often than not leads to the need to adjust and be flexible in how the family functions. Where one or the other partner is unable to respond to the requirement of change in expectations, attitude, and outcome; that is where differences arise and marriage counseling is required.
The modern 21st century metro male presents himself as aware of a progressive woman’s aspirations and wants to help her realize her career goals. The woman too is eager to be a good homemaker as well as to continue to work, learn and grow professionally. Prioritizing these is a challenge and both partners will often have different perspectives on what is or should be given precedence.
A number of issues recur in such troubled relationships.
TIME: For working couples, time is a very precious commodity. Weekdays are hectic, tiring, and unpredictable. Weekends are for fulfilling social commitments or shopping. Tired bodies need to relax, and tense minds need a soothing balm. Going for a walk, having an icecream together or just a coffee can provide you that out of home environment where chit-chat can make emotional bonding stronger. If you live with parents, then this ‘us’ time is important to let know how valuable each other’s company is. Holding hands for even five minutes brings back the romanticism of youth, of memories of pleasant moments, and of a worriless secure future-secure in each others presence. By the way, leave the baby home with your parents/in-laws. They can take care of him for 10-15 minutes, isn’t it?
FINANCES: If the woman is earning, then is it not her right to decide where she wants to spend and how much. (Even if she is not earning, it is her right!) Regrettably, many women soon after marriage leave the financial decisions to husbands who take it for granted to do as they please. Purchases of jewellery, clothes and bags when frowned upon will lead to bickering and nagging. I often listen to women complaining 5 years after marriage that they do not know about the family finances. It is often reassuring to them if they are told how much and where, including how to access. Since, traditionally our society has used women’s financial dependence on her husband to exploit her, giving her a sense of control is often enough to calm her down. E.g. I often ask men to get banks to send SMSes of financial transactions from women’s bank accounts to their (her) phone. That way she has knowledge of what is going on and how much is going somewhere. Keep bank statements and cheque books in places she can access easily. Is that too much to ask?
PHONE: Communication has vastly changed since we had telephones. Today voice calling, SMS, Facebook and WhatsApp have further revolutionized the way we interact. It also means that partners expect each other to make a call, SMS, poke or send a message on WhatsApp, especially if things are difficult at home or office. Pursuing him/her during the courtship period was exciting; after marriage continue to do so too. Sending comforting, romantic, humorous messages on WhatsApp is the best method to make your partner feel better and open up to you. That isn’t too much to ask, is it?
FLOWERS: When was the last time you sent flowers to your wife? Chocolates and flowers are a woman’s best loved gift. On her birthday, on the anniversary and as a surprise, your wife will remember when you sent her these valuable (from your heart) items. Do not be miserly in gifting and send roses; and never say ‘I sent low calorie chocolates’! Women never get fat!
ALCOHOL: As social permissibility for drinking increases, alcohol is emerging as an important difference between partners. Some women are totally against it and some perceive of it as a problem when it gets precedence over coming home and spending time with the family. Alcohol leads to irritability, moodiness and recklessness in men, but peer pressure and escapism from stresses traps many men. One 34 year old BPO manager justified it as being part of team building and/or networking; another financial IT expert rationalized alcohol as helping him cope with the wife’s nagging when he reaches home. Excuses become a habit and you begin to believe in the lie that you are telling your therapist about alcohol. Alcohol never helps. The truth is – alcohol is compounding the problems in your marriage and detaching you from your wife and family. Stop Alcohol, now! Go home! Spend that time and money in therapy or rehab, but get control over alcohol. Is that too much to ask?
AFFAIRS: Oh dear! An embarrassing topic, which many prefer to keep mum about. When you feel drawn towards another person, it is a warning. A sign that either your marriage is not working out or that you have a problem. And this is true of both men and women. Admitting to a fondness and an attraction may not be easy, but admitting to kissing, hugging or even beyond that is much tougher. It is happening to working persons as well as to home makers. Nobody is immune to it. Walking out is the usual reaction of the significant other, who is saddened at trust being broken and troubled by a sense of rejection and loss. Rebuilding the marital bond is possible, if both are committed to change and to working together.