Are you feeling lonely, helpless, indecisive?
Is something bothering you at home, at the workplace, that you are not able to talk about?
Is your relationship causing you stress?
You are not alone!
Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical well being.
In a first of its kind initiative to help and benefit Rediff readers, mind/life coach, NLP trainer and Mental Health Guru ANU KRISHNA wants you to talk about your problems.
Every week, Anu will answer your queries, address your concerns and offer expert advice on how you can take control of your life.
In last week’s self-help series Anu spoke about why couples are fighting more in the lockdown, and offered advice on how to address and solve day-to-day problems.
Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail them to [email protected] (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.
Meanwhile, here’s the unedited excerpt from our offline session with readers.
K: I am going through a rough patch in my marriage and need an expert’s advice badly since I do not have any elders or family members to help me out.
I am a Muslim lady. I had my first marriage to a Hindu guy going against my family, which did not work out and we got divorced mutually.
My family has since boycotted me and I am alone with a 14 year old daughter. (Mom stays with me but not much support)
I am a working woman, and don’t have much issues financially. After a year or so of my divorce, I met a childhood friend of mine after long, we liked each other, we got close and decided to get married.
He was already married, but since in our religion, second marriage is legal and the second wife gets equal rights and respect as of first wife, I agreed for the marriage, which we solemnised secretly to not hurt his family (read his wife), but his dad supported us and agreed to our alliance too.
It is almost 8 years now since our marriage, my hubby is loving towards me and my daughter, but the problem is he rarely stays with us at nights, he will come in daytime, stay for 4-5 hours, have dinner and leave. Some weekends only, he will stay.
Initially I thought with time, it would change, but it’s almost 8 years now, but nothing has changed and if I ask him, why he does not stay he says, ‘office is far away; difficult to reach on time due to traffic and stuff.’
Now, his whole family also knows about his marriage, then also he hardly gives us time and no one from his family contacts me or keeps in touch with me.
Since I have been independent most of my life (I don’t have a dad, bro or sis), I never asked for money since he also has a family to support. He will never give any on his own, even when I am short, he keeps saying he is in a financial crunch, once business picks up, he will take care of my expenses too.
Since I am an only child, I wanted a kid with him, but he kept procrastinating that too, saying condition (financial) is not good right now; additional responsibilities will be an added burden for both of us.
I live in a rented flat, while his family has his own (parents’ home to be precise).
My daughter is now almost 15, and understands quite a lot of things and has started disliking him. I am also at my wit’s end now.
I am tired and frustrated most of the time, feeling stuck. Any amount of talking and discussion only leads to arguments, and when he calms down, he would say he would try and change his ways but nothing changes.
Please suggest what I am supposed to do now. Talking to him is out of question, it’s absolutely no use.
I am even thinking of divorce now, (it’s) better to live alone than with someone who makes you feel lonely. But I am afraid for my daughter, her marriage, the divorcee tag again and (she) being a laughing stock to society and family again, I do not know what to do. Please help me!
ANU: Dear K, well, I don’t want to be sounding judgmental here, but your husband seems to have it very conveniently laid out for him right now.
Two marriages; only one of which is out in the public and no kids from the second one. Nice arrangement, but one that makes you uncomfortable and now your daughter senses it too.
Ask yourself: what do I want from this relationship/marriage? Write it down clearly starting with the words: I want……… (Do not limit yourself or tell yourself what is possible or not; simply write everything that you want from it)
Once you have done that, go through it and check how many on the list seem like an absolute must have for you; those are some things that you value and cannot be compromised for anything. If you have already begun to compromise on them, then you have begun to devalue yourself and your future as well.
Stop right away and NOW. Anything or anybody who moves you away from what is important to you must absolutely not be given a place in your life.
Since, you mentioned talking to him is not an option, keep this list handy and picture what your life will be without him and check how it feels.
If it feels right moving on, just DO IT. Strength is in holding onto what you value and stand up for. But of course, if it helps, do try to have that discussion and iron things out.
Always remember: Value yourself and value what is important to you and let nothing or no one keep you away from that.
Wishing you a beautiful life!
R: Hi Anu, I am a 35 yr old married guy with one child. Over the past 1.5 years since the lockdown started we have started multiple fights among ourselves.
If I take this sometime back, then from the time our kid was born, my wife has lost interest in sex and then lockdown started.
I tried convincing her many times but nothing seems to be working out.
I can’t go out for holidays or any outing because of the current scenario.
I also look sex starved and keep looking out for some flings outside. How can I get my normal life back?
Is this a normal behaviour of looking for flings outside my marriage? What do you suggest in my situation?
Waiting for a prompt response.
ANU: Dear R, I hear you. As much as flings outside of marriage seem like a good way to escape, remedying the situation that you are in goes a long way in creating a stronger marriage.
Sex is one of the dimensions in a marriage/relationship but not the only one.
The obsession with sex can absolutely drive a person insane as books are written on the number of times one must have sex in a week, the duration of sex/love making and a detailed participation between the people involved in this activity.
No other activity in the world would have been subject to so much scrutiny and detailed explanations on what to do, how to do, how much to do and so on.
As we are in the know of this, we start to obsess over what is wrong with us.
The most natural activity in the world needs to be under the scanner. That is what could be happening to you like many others who talk of the miseries of sex not being a part of marriage.
Firstly, you need to understand that after a woman delivers a baby, the experience changes her physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Her focus now becomes the baby and its well being.
And this can be a dampener for the father who suddenly feels neglected. This can lead to him feeling unloved, uncared for almost competing with his baby.
As cruel as this may sound, this is the reality in many homes with the arrival of a new-born. And somewhere, the mother becomes so comfortable with her role that she may forget to communicate to her husband that she needs time to be in that phase and integrate her role as a mother and wife.
Yes, and many a time, this goes on for years.
How can this be addressed? Communicate your needs without just jumping the gun and stating that sex is all you want.
Yes, that is what you are missing, but there is more to a relationship.
Build your connection from the scratch.
Court her, pamper her, indulge in her and simply love her without making her feel inadequate and guilty…making a mother feel like a woman than just someone who changes diapers and feeds the baby can be an absolute turnaround for any woman.
This takes time and patience… it’s like planting a seed, watering it and watching it grow and when you see it bloom, it can radiate with happiness.
And if you think, she genuinely isn’t interested in sex or any sort of physical intimacy, there might be an underlying problem like hormonal imbalance, stress, fatigue.
These need to be addressed by seeing a professional. I would still suggest; see your wife as a woman who you are in love with and the reason that you are together…that will put things in perspective for you.
Wishing you the best in rebuilding your connection.
A: Dear Anu, I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years. In the last 2 years or so I find it difficult to understand her.
Once every 2 or 3 months she goes into depression, and brings up old conversations between my mother and sister. It is not that they are perfect; however they have already moved on.
She blames I didn’t support, if the conversations happened in front of me then I can support but didn’t happen.
Also, my mother and sister they don’t talk to me anything about those conversations.
I love her and I have asked her to seek medical help but she doesn’t want.
I want to help and at the same time I need help.
ANU: Dear A, my first question to you is: how do you know that it is depression?
Has she been clinically diagnosed? Most often, I find people throwing this word around loosely without knowing what depression truly is.
For all you know, she may simply be low or upset over something that comes and goes frequently.
Assuming that this is case from what you have stated in your email, what is the reason that you feel she brings up these conversations from the past?
What triggers it? Is there a reference to your mother or sister in any current context?
Is anyone praising them currently and she doesn’t like it? Is she being compared to them in any manner?
Has she lost or given up anything in the past because of them that is impacting her now?
Do a reality check with her or if you know the answers to these, you will know what exactly is going on in your mind.
Questions like these can point you in a direction that will enable you to help her rather than see her as a problem.
She may not be willing to go to a professional for help as most of us think that it is NOTHING.
Stress and sadness are real and over a period of time, it can rob us of even the smallest of joys that we deserve.
It’s easy to say: Forget the past; one cannot forget the past or what happened there BUT one can only change the way they feel about the past.
Replaying what happened means she is reliving the same experience over and over again and feels the reality of this even now which must be dulled and faded away.
Why does she hold onto this is because it perhaps gives her the solace of not doing anything about it now and it’s easy to play the blame game?
At times, we seek refuge under phrases like: My life is a living hell because of this or that. This could also be hiding away from opportunities and blaming the world for it.
What I am sharing here is based on what information that I have got from you.
I suggest start with the reality check questions first and see how it goes as this will give you vital information on what’s going on in her mind.
Most importantly, reiterate to her to be grateful for the things and people in her life right now.
Gratitude as an energy can liberate us from mundane occurrences and can keep us sane and calm.
Best wishes to you and your wife for a wonderful life.
TVR: Dear madam, it’s about my daughter.
She is 22, completed Msc (economics) in IIT-Kharagpur and will join job in July at Gurugram. She 2nd of two kids, son being the 1st, also an IITian, now in the US
She is with us since March 2020, the longest period after 7 years.
She has average intelligence and follows her brother. We never exerted any pressure but always supported her. She strives very hard to reach her goals. In that process she always experiences very tense moments.
She shares all in detail with her mother (some very silly). My wife always listens patiently and extends all the required support.
She also excelled in cultural activities at IIT — was cast in a lead role in a short film which stood first in the IIT meet.
She was affected by corona during which she did internship with Nomura.
She cleared CFA level 1 in Dec 20 and is continuing her last semester from home. She is very much attached to the family and always insists that we live with her.
At the same time, she is lazy and never inclined to share any work at home. She was and is busy with her studies then and internship now.
She spends most of the day sleeping; working at night, chatting and hardly communicates pleasantries with me and her mother. We do discuss about general things.
During conversations with her mother, she would shout and get upset with anything she dislikes. However she will be very normal with her friends.
I worry silently but my wife is not able to be passive which is resulting in verbal duels frequently for silly or no reason.
My concerns: 1. Her irregular timings – she wakes up at 1 pm,misses breakfast, lunch 2 pm, dinner 10 pm and sleeps sometime after 2 am.
2. She is not exercising.
3. She intervenes in our conversation (between me and my wife) and finds fault with the thinking of my wife.
I routinely console my wife that all will be OK soon. But I find it difficult to convince her.
Importantly I’ve become helpless and speechless whenever both of them indulge in verbal duels.
All my attempts to pacify them are useless.
My request to keep silence is not at all heeded. Both find fault with me for not supporting their points. Both are correct from their angles, however the issues are silly.
Later both shower so much of love and I always wonder whether they even indulged in fierce battle a little while ago.
My concern: How to handle the situation? How to make them silent?
Any advice will be appreciated and followed.
ANU: Dear TVR, is it possible to make anyone silent, especially against their will?
Talking loudly or screaming at each other clearly indicates that there is a communication breakdown in that relationship. And silence cannot rebuild this.
There’s a lot of love and a lot of arguments between a mother and a daughter.
It is filled with care, worry, anxiety and a lot of love. They are well meaning but maybe the manner in which it is expressed may not be the best.
Your wife certainly wants to have a better level of communication with the daughter but do remember at age 22, she doesn’t need instructions but more of friendly suggestion; practically ‘A take it or leave it’ one.
But relinquishing this way of parenting and moving to a friendlier one takes a lot of mindset change as now you both are parenting a young lady and not a girl
Also, it would be worth an effort to know if all the studies that she is currently pursuing is not something that is for the outside world and to follow her brother but is something that she likes.
Professional competitive courses can sometimes rob a person of a holistic life leaving little time to have hobbies or a social life to enjoy. Is she under pressure? Does she like what she is studying?
A few study late into the night and a few wake up early. Whatever that is, she must maintain a better lifestyle and eat well. Not maintaining proper mealtimes can be reflective of stress also.
I suggest you and your wife have a chat/talk with her not to instruct her on what to do and what not to BUT making it casual like the three of you are on the same side and looking at the situation outside of you.
That will make her trust you both even more and it could possibly lead her to a better state of mind to tackle her studies and have a good personal life as well.
Wishing your family a wonderful connection.
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