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Marriages: Big problems, small solutions!

By Samindara Sawant
May 26, 2005 14:21 IST
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We presented a few issues that couples face in their marriages last week.

Today, let me begin with a quote:

"A marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences." -- Dave Meurer

The above quote contains a quintessential truth: no marriage is perfect, and each couple has to take proactive efforts in order to have harmony between themselves.

Let us now focus on them in depth.

Self-esteem issues

If one of the spouses has a low self-esteem, it can reflect on the marriage in a number of ways: the spouse may perceive the marriage as an unequal match, may feel unworthy of the partner's love.

And, consequently, put up with the partner's undesirable behaviour. Over time, this creates a sense of dissonance in the marriage and builds mistrust and resentment.

Increasing your self-esteem cannot happen overnight. It requires concerted effort. It will also require the support of your spouse and other family members.

Start appreciating the good traits in yourself. Learn to look at situations objectively rather than simply assume that everything is your mistake. Try and be assertive when you feel something is not really your fault.

Problems confiding

The inability to confide can be a source of major discord in a marriage.

A marriage is considered the most intimate of relationships, and if you feel unable to open up and confide to your spouse, it will not only leave you feeling incomplete, it will create resentment, dissatisfaction and frustration in the spouse.

Do ask yourself why you are not able to confide. Is it a personality trait? Is there something about your spouse that stops you from confiding? Clarify in your mind the reason for your reticence and try to tackle it head on.

Intimacy crisis

All marriages go through crises. It is how the couple responds to those crises that is crucial.

A couple might get along very well with each other. But if they cannot cope with a crisis in a mature manner, as a team, the very structure of the marriage gets weakened.

True, crises like death in the family, infertility, financial disaster can be immense personal challenges to an individual and call for tremendous coping strategies.

But if you attempt to deal with crises together, you will realise that coping becomes far more bearable and you can derive from each other's strengths.

Poor conflict resolution skills

Conflicts happen in every marriage. But some couples are unable to deal with them in a mature and reasonable manner.

As a result, minor irritants get highlighted and small problems are blown into large ones. Conflict thus escalates and goes beyond the coping resources of the couple.

To avoid such a scenario, a couple must always remain vigilant as to whether the conflict is getting out of hand.

It is alright to have disagreements and fights, as long as you are eventually able to resolve the deadlock. But if you find that you are getting into a situation where neither of you is willing nor able to back out, it is important to take time out.

Decide to come back to the point of conflict after giving it some respite. And, perhaps, you will have a different perspective.

Talk out your disagreements. And, in some situations, agree to disagree while finding a compromise solution.

Lack of sharing

This aspect is usually experienced by women, many of whom feel that husbands do not contribute to sharing the home responsibilities as much as they should.

This leads to feelings of being taken for granted, feeling stressed out in an attempt to balance home and work.

This is expressed through caustic comments, nagging and irritability, which gives rise to more difficult problems.

Women need to have a clear and frank discussion with their husbands regarding sharing of household responsibilities.

If you are a career woman, it is all the more important that you have the support of your husband and family.

Most husbands do not want their wives' careers to suffer. It is just that they are not perceptive enough to realise that they are not supporting their wives by not being actively involved in sharing some of the household responsibilities.

Clarifying this with them in a calm and rational manner will make them aware of the situation. And they will at least begin to make some attempts.

This is not to say that they will be positive about wanting to tackle chores overnight. But they will have at least developed some sensitivity toward the situation!

Samindara Sawant is a clinical psychologist and founding member and partner of Disha Vocational Testing and Counselling Center, Mumbai. She does marital counselling on a regular basis.

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Samindara Sawant