Relationship Issues
Marriage/ Couples Issues

Mutual Respect - Essence of Relationships

It is generally assumed that the success or breakdown of a couple's relationship depends only on love. In reality successful relationships are built on mutual respect, tolerance, and appreciation of who we are, as individuals.  Particularly in India, our society has very strong beliefs about men and women, and their maleness and femaleness. Our reactions to the opposite sex are based on these blind beliefs. Some of these beliefs are negative, and deep rooted. We find it difficult to be just different and continue to enjoy the differences in each other.

Actually, our knowledge of the opposite sex is often limited. We develop stereotyped ideas about men and women and find it difficult to identify with the other sex and learn as to how things feel from their angle. A couple should make efforts to utilize the strengths of their partners. In general, men have greater mechanical ability and women are good in providing emotional support. It is not necessary for men to be strong and in control of everything, all the time. They should learn to recognize their own vulnerability and discuss their feelings without anger and fear.

Times are fast changing and today we have many women doing what was done only by men, a few years ago. This change is obvious and all pervading. The real change will come not with both sexes doing the same thing and having the same interests, but with the respect and tolerance for male/ female-specific characteristics. According to Carl Jung, a famous psychologist of the last century, each person has maleness as well as femaleness and as we grow older the other "sexness" begins to show up more.

Dealing with Divorce

Globally, there has been a sharp increase in the number of couples who are getting divorced within the first five years of marriage. The increase has been more pronounced in India and Kerala in particular. This is despite the orthodox background of the people here, and the high rate of literacy, compared to the rest of the country. The majority of the divorcing couples do not part their ways amicably. Even if there is no animosity at the time of divorce, bitterness and resentment over children have a tendency to build up in the years that follow.

Following the divorce, there is generally a dispute where both parents try to attain victory. In reality, both parties actually lose and the children suffering a lot of pain. In majority of the cases, mothers get the custody of children and remain as the main caregivers for children. These children often receive only partial assistance from their father. The mother tends to become depressed as she copes with the daily problems and single parenthood. This stresses her out, over a period of time, and she performs less adequately in her role. As a consequence, the child also becomes insecure and unhappy. This only serves to make the mother feel increasingly guilty. A father, on the other hand, feels frustrated with himself, becomes angry or depressed, drinks or uses drugs, and becomes increasingly unavailable for emotional contact with the child. In such cases, children deprived of affection may blame themselves for driving the father away.  Divorce is more likely to have a negative effect on children if bitterness and hostility between parents exist.

Divorce is not always bad.  It is sometimes a blessing, especially when there are bitter fights between parents and children are exposed to violence.  More than the divorce, it is the hostile relationship that really harms the children.  Children should not be asked to take sides or be subjected to one parent punishing the other.  Do not get in to a battle you can not win. Move on and try to create a win - win situation by negotiating with your ex-, so that the children benefit.

Midlife Crisis

As they get older, men generally become increasingly quiet, withdrawn, and cynical. They come home, eat dinner, read the newspaper or watch TV and then go to sleep. He does not make any effort to relate to his spouse. But, he becomes very dependent on her, both emotionally and physically.  Once men enter middle age, they rarely make new friends.  Relationships with children become shallow and they can seldom deal with the loss of their spouse.

Men are more resistant to change. But men have to change to adjust. The old dog has to learn new tricks. If you are willing to learn, you can change any time you want to, and there is no time like now! It makes sense to start changing and take help before one reaches breakdown.  Besides, it will hurt less. False pride often covers one's shame.  Men are too ashamed to admit that they may have been wrong or that they are no longer in control.  Bending a bit is like giving up. Seeking help is like failure. So if you feel stagnated, do something about it.  You can not give up on becoming a better and more complete person. Your spouses, children, and grandchildren are there. So you can do your job of nurturing them and bringing joy into their lives and yours.

Making Your Marriage Work

Marriage is more precious than a job. In order to meet the challenges of marriage, we must often resolve many contradictory tasks and juggle different roles, all at the same time. Let us look at some tips to a happy and satisfying marriage :-

(a) As you grow up, one separates from one's family of origin and begins to involve more in the marriage and the new family. It is possible to be a good son, a loving brother, a partner and a parent, with out sacrificing too much.

(b) Successful partners totally identify with each other. They can finish each other's sentences, anticipate what their partner would think in a given situation.

(c) Many people suddenly wake up to the fact that they have scaled the corporate ladder, but have a broken marriage and disenchanted children. If you are aware of the importance of the family a lot can be achieved in the limited times available together. We are all versatile and are capable of being good partners, workers and citizens simultaneously.

(d) The arrival of a child is one of the happiest times in life and also a critical juncture in marriage. Some men start feeling isolated and insecure and begin to imagine that their wife is uninterested and inattentive to them. The woman also may get totally involved with the baby and may not understand the husband's lack of involvement. The man may turn to friends, work, or alcohol and the woman may spend increasing periods closeted with the baby. Couples, therefore, need to strike a balance between intimacy and parenthood for the sake of their marriage.

(e) Successful couples keep the romance of marriage going. Relive your days of courtships. Those images and memories work to bind the relationships.

(f) Each one of us has a need to be appreciated and nurtured. Happily married couples think of each other with affection and are proud of each other.

(g) Couples tend to fight and increase their stress, when there are other problems around. When you're stressed out, don't take it out on your partner. Successful partners come even closer when they face a crisis.

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