A lady came in for counseling. She seemed very depressed. Apparently she feels cheated in her marriage. She was expecting to live abroad, and also lead a fairly comfortable life, financially, after marriage . But her dreams are not fulfilled. Her husband could not get the promised job abroad and she feels she is not living in the standards she is used to. Her husband is not as financially well off as her father.
This feeling of being cheated has gone so deep, she has turned very angry and cries a lot. She is obviously stressed out and unable to accept living with her dreams not being fulfilled. To maintain her style of life, she does not mind having her father sponsor some of her needs.
It must be disheartening to have one’s dreams dashed. It is difficult for some to accept this and move on. What needs to be seen is that these dreams need not be abandoned. They can be achieved some time later. One can work towards fulfilling them. This outlook will help one to move on. Life does not stand still, it moves on. If you are down now, you will be on the upward curve sometime.
When this was pointed out to here, she said she is waiting. And since it has been ten years, she is becoming discouraged. She does seem to have a point!
When probed further, her real issues started to surface. The reasons why she is frustrated with her husband, his family and what she feels her future will be, were all brought to the surface. She did feel her husband needs to be more responsible and start some savings plan. And like most men, he tends to jump to conclusions when his family gives him some information about her.
Her grouse is she has been with him for ten years, he knows her nature. If his family members have any grouse, ideally they need to address them to her. Or if they tell him, he needs to get her explanation before he takes a judgment call. But he does not. He believes his family, she says, and there are fights between them on these issues.
This seems to be a common pattern in most families. There are enough members who love to create friction between husband and wife. And there are enough men who fall for this time and again. This attitude seems to be ingrained, one that is successful most times.
Even if the grouse is genuine, the wife still needs a chance to give her explanation. Only then can the husband take action, and he will be objective. It is not that wife is always the victim. There are enough women who take the upper hand by hook or by crook. Through manipulation, threats, conflicts, and other means. And if the husband bends in one direction, he will be considered spineless by the other party.
An unenviable position for the man! When there is conflict, both sides need to be aired before any decision is taken. Some women genuinely feel they are being victimized by their in-law families. And they do not have any support from their respective husbands.
This lady was expecting her husband to change and behave in a way she feels is right. When it was gently suggested maybe the change had to come from within her, she was astonished, to say the least. I asked her how she conveyed her anguish to her husband and what she would ask him to do? We discussed her behavior pattern. Was that pattern successful? Did she get the desired change in him? She said no, so did it not make sense to change her behavior pattern and look for reciprocal change? When this was discussed for sometime, with examples, she started to get the point.
But the fact that changes need to come from within her, was still rankling. She expected the counselor to get the husband to change, she wanted me to dictate to her husband how he has to behave. I explained to her what is counseling and how the counselee needs to do his/her part of the work. This leads to personal growth, which is always the goal of counseling.
Initially she resisted, but soon understood the benefits of bringing in changes in herself. It was conveyed to her how she would be pro-active and this will lead to reducing some of her stress. She needed to shift her pattern of thinking.
Certain rules of marital life, of any relationship for that matter, were stated. She needed to accept them to move ahead. A shift in thinking needs to happen, once a person gets married. When one partner shows irresponsibility, the other partner needs to understand what the desired changes need be and work towards achieving them. By example, this partner can bring about changes in the other partner.
Her father was sponsoring some of her needs. So her husband did not see the need to save money towards achieving these needs. If her father was concerned about his daughter’s future, he could always make sure there is something saved in her name. But the majority of expenses and savings need to happen with the marital couple.
The main grouse this lady had was there is no savings. Her husband was spending all that he was earning. Maybe subconsciously he knows her father is there to provide in crisis. So he is not bothered to save. This belief has to be removed from his mind. He needs to be made responsible for the financial future of his family. How could she achieve this? Also she too could work and contribute towards savings. Two areas she needed to focus.
There is a lot of thinking she needs to do. Some of her beliefs need to be reexamined and she needs to focus on other areas of her life too. Blaming only her spouse will not help. Yes, he needs to be responsible, respect her and be more objective. She too needs to contribute in making him responsible. She has a role here, she needs to understand. Right now she is feeling sorry for herself; by being active, she can shake off this feeling and make a start in turning things around.
The husband too requires counseling, this has been conveyed.