A young couple came in for counseling. They have been married for a couple of years. It is an arranged marriage, and the couple are happy. They have known each other before marriage, and were delighted when the parents too agreed.
Both are working and settled in the city. There have been some marital issues for which they have come in for counseling. It appears that there was some problem initially with the mother-in-law who tended to compare two daughters-in-law. This has caused a lot of heart burn for the young lady and she has been very upset.
Once the young man came to know of the issue, he had a chat with his mother and made it clear he did not appreciate such comparisons. He understood his wife’s discomfort and made sure his mother stopped all such behavior. It did take some time for the young lady to confide in her husband the problem created by his mother. So till then she did feel humiliated and hurt. But once the husband spoke to his mother, there is no such comparison happening.
So what is the issue? The husband said his wife was stuck in the past. She would rake up past issues and use harsh language. He has asked her to forget the past and live happily. They have no financial problems, both are earning. He does not restrict her in any way. They are both from semi urban areas, so they have their own cultures. By that standards, this young lady is able to pursue her desires and is also loved and respected by her husband. He demonstrates it too.
This young woman seemed to be hell bent on making him pay for his mother’s past behavior. She was unable to let go of her humiliations and wanted her pound of flesh. When would she feel appeased? What is required to make her withdraw her angst? She is not sure.
Their marriage is quite young. He is steadily getting frustrated and fast losing his patience. He has tried to convey to her his anguish, his frustrations and how her behavior is impacting their relationship negatively. Since he has not be successful, he felt counseling will help.
She told me when she gets angry with someone, she does not talk to that person again. She does not analyze her anger, it can be appropriate or not. She feels someone has wronged her, she has to extract her pound of flesh. This has worked for her before, but this is impacting her relationship negatively, she is unable to fathom. Her family and friends have accepted this behavior of hers, so she feels it will work for her everywhere.
I asked her if she had any conflicts in her workplace? Did she lose her temper with her boss and let him/her have it? She said she would state her mind, but would not use harsh words. She knew she cannot get away with her usual behavior at office. With colleagues, she is less careful. So she knows where to draw the line. Why is she not using this knowledge in her relationship?
She professes to love her husband, in fact she prefers him to her child. But what joy is her love giving her husband? What happens if she were to hate him? How can your love damage and hurt someone? She seems to be laboring under the impression, this relationship is for keeps. She does not seem to know at some point her husband can call it quits. He is an only child, if he expresses his torture to his parents, there can be repercussion. When marriages are breaking because a couple cannot agree to tea or coffee as a beverage, how can she be so blind?
Her husband has pointed out the consequences of this behavior. I have also probed her mind. She agrees her behavior is not appropriate. Then obviously she requires counseling to examine her thinking pattern and her belief system. She needs to learn to challenge her thoughts and her irrational beliefs. Only then she can be on the path to rational thinking and behavior.
Hopefully she will come for counseling sessions. I will be able to help her see the connection between her beliefs and the consequences. She cannot want her relationship to suffer. She has unashamedly said she loves her husband and was sitting quite close to him in the counseling room.
Her inability to let go of the past and her anticipation that in future her mother-in-law could create trouble, was interfering with her enjoyment of the present. The couple have a good relationship, at least when she is not in the negative mood. She seems to be stuck in a pattern, she needs counseling to help her break it.