As I grow older, I get a ring-side view of ‘sick-marriages’ on the brink of divorce, even today. I try to heal such marriages by encouraging couples to create a loving, healthy and stable home for their children (if any) because there are no winners in a divorce – only losers. And the worst losers are innocent children who are borrowed and returned like library-books by the two people who brought them into this world.
I go a step further when I ‘talk’ to couples by encouraging wives to use their power as women to create happy homes because a large part of the reason in modern marital problems lies seemingly in ‘selfish, overly demanding wives’, who are all stressed out when they return home day after day from their demanding careers. Conversely, most wives feel unloved and neglected because the husband is ‘married to his job and has no time for her’. Recently, a husband felt neglected because his wife spent late nights drinking with her female friends while he took care of her old mother as well as his own family. What’s more, their teenage daughter also has late-night parties which worries the father. To complicate matters, he’s in a relationship with his friend’s wife, which is like playing with fire!! And to think that theirs was a college romance with a long courtship, followed by a love-marriage. So where did the love go???
When either spouse feels neglected or under-appreciated, the first casualty is intimacy which starts with, “not tonight darling, I have a headache.” Days became weeks and as one wife confided in me, she hasn’t been intimate with her husband for the last three years. She’s only 31 years old and they have been together since school and married since ten years! The husband refuses any form of counselling, so they’ve compromised into a sexless-marriage which is killing the young wife emotionally because sex is the most intimate and sacred act within marriage, even after 30, 40 or 50 years!
I’m increasingly see celibate-relationships within marriage, even among youngsters. Typically, these are couples whose pace of life has increased so much by working hard and partying hard that they are on the edge of emotional exhaustion, with little or no time for each other, leave alone children, who are raised by grandparents or servants. Also, stress, career, fatigue, over-socializing, performance-anxiety and the strain of having small children are reasons leading to unhappiness in a marriage.
Adultery is another serious issue in any marriage. When a spouse finds physical and emotional solace in another person, it becomes a proverbial ‘love-triangle’, but these days , I see ‘love-quadrangles’, with both spouses having someone ‘on the side’. These cases are very challenging and usually, one spouse comes to me a couple of times and soon gives up. Patch-up is very rare.
Then there’s interference by the girl’s or husband’s family in a marriage. They decide everything and control every area of a young couple’s marriage under the guise of ‘raising their children’! Today’s girls don’t want in-laws but are too attached to their parents. So invariably, the husband feels ‘suffocated’ by all the decisions taken by the girl’s parents. Recently, there was a case like this but luckily, the young couple settled elsewhere with their kids, so the marriage was saved. Another wife left her in-laws and lived separately from her husband for 25 years. Today they are old and live under the same roof but their marriage is merely a compromise as they lead separate lives.
So where does the attraction, which brought two people together in a LOVE marriage, or even an arranged one, disappear to? How can two people who loved each other so much, become SO intolerant that they hate each other? Most spouses who complain that they are not getting what they want from their marriage should look how disdainfully they talk of their spouses. One wife, who is selfishly pleasure-loving, socialises daily, dumping her husband at home and making him do all the house-work, says, “He doesn’t like to go anywhere!” The husband sings a different tune, saying “She doesn’t take me anywhere though I love to go! She is too busy enjoying foreign cruises with her brother.”
Words matter a lot in any relationship. If you want your spouse to respect you, talk with respect and be nice. Your spouse has feelings too!!
Should you share your marriage problems with a third person? No. No. No. Certainly not with your parents because the advice will be biased in your favour and NEVER with a friend because it may become fodder for gossip. Also, a friend may unintentionally give you wrong advice like, “Why do you stand for all this nonsense? File for a divorce immediately. You deserve much more.” Remember, that your friend has not heard the other side of the story. The best thing would be for the couples to sit together and solve problems among themselves or with an experienced marriage-counsellor.
Each and every marriage comes with a package-deal of problems (and there are lots of these) which vary from home to home, and generation to generation. In our generation, we lumped all the interference and abuse from our in-laws. But today, in-laws are not much of a problem unless you willingly allow them to interfere in your married life.
In our grandparents’ time, the roles of the husband and wife were well defined. Hubby was the bread-winner and the wife managed the home and kids because motherhood is a full-time job. Today’s generation wants to live life in the fast lane with reversed roles, inviting tons of problems. No use blaming only one partner because it takes two hands to clap, just as it takes two to tango! When the husband works and the wife works, how does the house work?
So, how do you turn a bad marriage into a good one and a good one into a great marriage? By giving LOVE. Marriage is the biggest channel to give love and change your entire life. When you love your partner and show it in various forms throughout the day, that love is definitely returned and you have an amazing marriage. Simple things like compliments, kindness, support, gratitude multiply daily to bring joy, happiness and health in your marriage. On the other hand, anger, disdain, criticism, domination, impatience or any negative feelings destroy the relationship.
You can make your marriage happy right now by looking for the things you love, appreciate and are grateful for, in your spouse. When you deliberately do this, a miracle will take place. It will appear like something incredible has happened to your spouse. But it’s the force of love that’s incredible because it dissolves negativity.
Trying to change another person is not love. Having the spouse on your terms is not love. Thinking you are always right, is not love. Criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, finding fault, dominating, is not love. If your spouse insults or offends you, raise your soul. So high that the insult cannot reach you… Your own soul is nourished when you are kind and is destroyed when you are cruel.
Love is the highest spiritual energy in the Universe and can do wonders for your marriage. All you have to do is to give love by feeling good and grateful for your spouse and any negativity in your relationship will fade away. When a negative situation comes up, the solution is always love. You won’t know how it will be solved, but if you remain loving, it will happen. I am reminded here of a case where a husband kidnapped his daughters and made them write things against the mother. The wife didn’t give up on him but ‘healed’ his anger and resentment by being more loving. The couple went on to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary!! That’s the power of love though theirs was an arranged marriage!
Marriage is exactly like life – it’s infuriating, varied, wonderful, moving, tender, tiresome, desperately hard work, full of comedies, tragedies, high-highs and low-lows and infinitely, most infinitely worthwhile!