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In this edition of #ReachOutThursday, a woman talks about her husband who does not co-operate with her and another woman, who has self harmed herself and now is ashamed of her physical scars.
Every Thursday, the Women’s Web expert panel with the support of Healtheminds, answers questions from readers facing relationships issues, emotional and mental challenges and other such issues.
I am a north Indian girl, a highly qualified doctor. I married a Bengali boy eight years ago, not out of love but because I trusted him and his love very much. Post marriage I got a cultural shock.my mother in law was extremely sarcastic of me and my family. She has a younger son, thirty-two-year-old, still unemployed, only so that he can always be at her side. I never reacted back, and tried to adjust, I was living in a separate city, but I learned Bangla and adopted Bengali way of living. I grew out of love with my husband just after marriage when I saw that he has no guts to speak anything in front of his parents and always tried to put issues under the carpet. Things were stable till four years back when I started hearing from other peoples mouth that we are moving to my in-laws city and home. I was shocked and kept mum for a year, but then I confronted my husband and categorically told him that I m not moving there. He kept brushing things under the carpet, and slowly without my knowledge shifted all his professional setting to that city. After he set everything there, including my daughters’ admission in school, I succumbed to ‘what people will say’ and moved there only. Now he pretends as if nothing has happened, I have deep contempt for him. I feel miserable living with people whom I don’t love and who don’t love me. My daughter is the only one I live my life for.
Firstly, I would like to appreciate the fact that you have been very open in expressing your concerns, because not many of us can do that.
We often have preconceived expectations of what marriage and relationships are supposed to be like. But at times, they are the opposite of what we expected. Unmet expectations are a major source of conflict in marriages.
From what you have shared, It’s evident that you are not really happy with the way things have turned out for you. Unmet expectations have made you fall out of love.You hoped that your husband stood by you at all times, sometimes asked for your opinion before making any decisions. But that didn’t seem to happen.
I also see that there is lack of communication between the two of you, which is very much needed for the success of any relationship. Marital relationship grows stronger as couples lovingly share and discuss their interests, show willingness to sacrifice, and work together to find the best solutions when faced with problems.
Cultural differences in marriage can be either a blessing or a curse. The extent to which partners from different backgrounds can peacefully coexist depends largely on how well religious observations, socioeconomic status, and language can be incorporated into the relationship. However, couples with vast distinctions may have more challenges than those with similar backgrounds or experiences.
I am glad that you have been flexible and tried your best to fit into a totally different cultural setting.
I understand that the way your mother-in-law has been with you makes you upset. It appears that she wants her children to be by her side. Considering you and your husband lived in a different city and away from her, may be that wasn’t acceptable to her. Her sarcasm and anger could the result of that. It is important to realize that In-laws, siblings and relatives can crate stress within a marriage. When coping with negative issues because of family, always step gently.
You feel miserable for how things have turned out for you, but you need to remember, you have a child to look after. Marital problems affect children the most. I feel you are a strong person. You are highly qualified and wise enough to decide what is good for you and your daughter. So try not to put yourself down to such an extent that it has an adverse effect on you and on people whom you care about.
You must be feeling suffocated, and that could be stressful. It is important for you to manage your stress levels, so that it doesn’t affect different aspects of your life. Take some time out for yourself, and do something that you like or makes you happy. Focusing on your strengths shall certainly make you feel much better.
It’s never too late to sort things out. With effective communication and conflict resolution skills, you can work through your problems, rather than avoiding or forcing the issues. Also, consider seeking professional help along with your husband to make things better for yourself and others.
Halima Sadiya, Psychologist, Healtheminds
Okay. Please read it completely and advice me what to do. So, I am a 30 years old woman from Delhi. I have self-harm raised scars on my hand and leg. And I feel embarrassed to wear half sleeves or shorts because people start asking me questions about it. I got this hand scars because of my sister, and on leg because I was stupid. I regret doing that. I got these scars like, 4 years ago. And nobody knows about my scars, except my sisters. I belong to a Muslim family and mom wants me to get married to a guy of her choice, in short it will be an arranged marriage. Before getting married to any guy of her choice I want to tell him the truth about my scars, but I don’t want him to think that I am crazy, because I am not crazy or whatever. There are few proposals right now, but I am scared to proceed further because after marriage if he finds out about my scars, he might freak out and end up giving me divorce. I don’t want that. The problem is when and how to tell him because our parents will be with us all the time. How to tell him without him judging me? And I want to tell him before I get married to him. I don’t know how he will react and whether he will accept me or not. I don’t want my parents to get hurt if guys reject me because of my scars, but I have to tell the truth. I don’t want to hide stuffs or lie, that’s not me. And my family is getting upset because I am not getting married. Nobody ever loved me truly, because of my scars. So, please help me out. I am so worried and heartbroken. How to make things work? I do want to get married and start a family.
“Thank you for reaching out and talking about this. Even though self-harm is common, it is not easily acceptable. It is completely normal for you to worry about your prospective partner’s reaction to the scars on your arms and legs. You have not mentioned what led to it, but perhaps you have dealt with a lot of challenging emotions. Often, disclosing about self-harm or cutting is a painful and difficult experience, since friends and family may not always understand or approve.
You have expressed concern about how your prospective partner will perceive you. However, at this moment, it is equally (if not more) important for you to focus on how you perceive yourself. What has led you to engage in self-harm? Was it triggered by the need to numb some pain or a way of coping with a traumatising experience? How long did it last? Do you still feel the urge to cut? Self-harm symbolizes more than just physical scars on your body. And to resolve the deep-seated emotions associated with it, you may find it useful to discuss this with a professional counsellor, if you haven’t done so already. From your description, it sounds like there is a lot on your mind. The regret, worry and the feeling of never being loved may be stemming from something that happened in the past. If you still find it intruding in your present, I sincerely hope you choose to speak to a professional about it.
Despite your best efforts, it is not realistic to always protect your loved ones or yourself from rejection. I commend your desire to come clean about your scars before getting married. I also hope you consider what are the possible reactions you might receive, both positive and negative – and to be mentally prepared for either. I suggest you brace yourself for negative or even insensitive reactions, as you cannot predict how every person will react.
It can be quite harrowing to talk about to a complete stranger about this, and might bring up a lot of strong emotions within you. I hope you stay mindful of these. Don’t lead the conversation with a disclosure. Instead, spend some time building a rapport with the person. This will give you an idea as to whether this person may be receptive to what you are about to tell him. Not every person you meet will need to be told. In case you do decide to disclose, focus on sharing the experiences you had and the feelings you went through. It is easier for another person to identify with these rather than the act of cutting. Talk to the person why you are telling him about it – about your desire to start a relationship without any secrets or pretences. Refrain from giving details about how you got the scars, unless asked for. Remember, that you do not owe him an explanation but that you would want him to know as much about you as he wants to.Remember that the fact that you cut yourself a few years ago does not make you ‘crazy’ or a bad person. And another person cannot accept this unless you do so yourself. I hope you consider these suggestions and find someone who sees you not for your scars but for the person you are.”
Aditi Kulkarni, Psychologist, Healtheminds
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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