The third area in a marital relationship that requires attention is the Social Area. This area refers to family and friends. The social functions that the couple will attend, the festivals that will be celebrated, how they will celebrate their birthdays/anniversaries, etc.
The couples needs to appraise each other about their immediate and extended family members. The numbers, the behavior patterns and the expectations. This will enable the other partner to understand and modify his/her behavior depending on whom he/she is interacting with. For example, there could be an elderly aunt who wants all new brides to cover their heads with the saree pallu or dupatta. If the young bride is not aware of this, she could offend the elderly aunt on her husband’s side. If he were to inform her before, she can accommodate the aunt’s expectations.
One young bride invited her in-laws home for lunch. She went to great lengths to prepare yummy dishes, including sweets. Her in-laws came in for lunch. The mother-in-law went berserk with the sweets. Her son got angry and started to yell at her. The whole lunch turned into a mess. The reason? The elderly lady was a diabetic, a fact the young man had failed to inform his wife. If she knew this fact, she wouldn’t have prepared the sweet dish. The lunch could have been a smooth affair.
The young couple need to communicate a lot with each other. They need to update about each other’s families and give those information which could be relevant. Many a times, the young men do not consider this an important issue. The young wives do get into embarrassing situations. This can be avoided. The young ladies need to elicit such information.
Exchanging information about friends and colleagues will make it easier for a partner to interact with them. Also, before marriage a young person could be used to spending time with friends. This may need to be curtailed. A young person enters into a marital relationship, then he/she needs to understand this is an important stage in one’s life. More focus and energy needs to be on making this relationship work.
Friends and family can take a backseat for sometime. Spending quality time with each other, communicating effectively, all will help cement the relationship. Maintaining and improving the health of the relationship is quite a task. People need to understand this.
Together the couple can decide which social events can be celebrated, which can be attended and how to celebrate. Sometimes one partner may not be able to attend a social event. If the other partner accepts the reasons, there is no issue. But when one partner stops the other from participating, there can be issues.
It could be difficult to adjust to one’s in-laws in the beginning. It is fine, as long as the relationship is cordial. Both the parties can take time to understand each other and form a relationship. That is the newly weds and their respective in-laws.
In our Indian culture/society, the newly wed bride moves into the home of her husband and his parents. It is here the husband needs to request his family members to give his wife space for her to understand them and become a part of the family. He also needs to request his wife to take the initiative to become part of the family.
Restricting each other from meeting/talking to their respective friends is going to cause frustration and irritation. It can give rise to conflicts. A young, well educated young girl is married into a so called cultured family. She used to work, but was asked to give up her work. She agreed, deciding to take up a job later. She found she could not step out of the house. Her in-laws wouldn’t give her permission.
She would watch the world outside through the window. She wanted to go to a temple, it was a habit she had. Very reluctantly she was given permission to visit a nearby temple. It is not a proper temple, just a pavement establishment. It is near their home, so she was given permission. Her husband too does not believe in letting his parents know his wife can go out. She is getting frustrated being cooped inside the house. There is no work inside for her too.
Her husband needs to come to her aid. She is a person who knows the city and has moved out on her own several times. Even to visit her parental home, in the same city, he drops her. It is his family pattern, which is frustrating the young woman.
This area, the social area, can be smooth with mild conflicts. Or it can cause a lot of heart burn and frustration to either of the couple. If the girl’s family expect her to visit them everyday, stay over every other day, this can cause rift between the couple. The couple need to decide whom to visit, when to visit and how to participate in social events. A healthy pattern needs to be set up in the social area. The health of this area is very important for the well being of the marital relationship.