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Disbelief

Question:

Sir,We are a Doctor couple,I am doing my orthopedics,She is doing her M.D gynacology,We have been married for a year,It was an arranged marriage she is a malaysian and i am an indian.My problem started after 3 months of marriage.She does not like me talking with any of my colleges or friends,If it is a male she says i always talk with with the person ignoring her completely if it is a female whether married or not,She says that she doughts me having an affair,If i try to explain she will never listen which irritates me the most,If i ignore her she keeps on pilng complaints against me.She expects me to listen to her which i feel childish and without any sense.She is not coming for councelling too.I am so vexed and helpless,I dont want to divorse her at the same time i want to be happy and contened with my life too.Help me out

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Answer:

Your situation is certainly vexing and your frustration understandable. Here is why I point this out:

1. You and your wife are each highly educated and highly functioning people in the world today. I doubt that there are many places in the world where Medical Doctors are not highly regarded and deeply needed.

Yet, even with the level of achievement you have each reached you are faced with an ironic situation: you have an arranged marriage. Please understand that there is no criticism of arranged marriages either stated or implied. Yet, I wonder how such highly educated and trained people really feel about the fact that the marriage was arranged? I do not know but I do wonder whether or not one or the other of you, if not both, has harbored any resentment about being married to someone not of your choice? You are each living in a traditionally arranged marital situation but neither one of you is really traditional. You and your wife are each physicians, equal in your status and standing in the world today. How do you each really feel about that equality?

2. a lot depends on how you and your wife were raised. By that I mean, how traditional were each of your families and, therefore, the expectations for men and women. Many years ago I had a case in which a traditional woman from India married an Indian man who had grown up in India but had live a long time in the West and was very westernized. That was also an arranged marriage. The couple moved to the United States where the wife was terribly unhappy because she preferred the traditional role of an Indian woman to what was presented to her in the West. The marriage ended with her returning to her home and family.

If either you or your wife find your role definitions here in the West to be in conflict with what you have always know and wanted it could cause strain on your relationship. For example, your wife wants you to "listen to her." If listening to her means that she wants to be able to discuss her concerns and worries with her without becoming angry or defensive then you might find that difficult if you grew up in a family in which men were in charge. On the other hand, if she experiences the free roles that men and women have in the West compared to what she grew up with in Malaysia then she might experience your behavior here as threatening to her.

3. I assume that both of you are far away from your families. Given that you have only been married for one year that distance may put a strain on one or both of you. Young couples often turn to their families of origin for help, support and advice when they are having marriage difficulties. That may not always be the best thing to do because in-laws can meddle into the lives of their married children. However, there are plenty of families who are able to provide support, warmth and reassurance without meddling into the marriage. Even though you are each highly educated and have been away from your families for a long time it is possible that the distance has been difficult for each of you.

In addition to what is discussed above, you are each complaining about not feeling listened to. It is important that you begin listening to the complaints of the other. By "listening to the other" is meant more than listening to the words but paying attention to the message. In your wife’s case, she is letting you know that she feels insecure and threatened when she sees you with other doctors, whether they are male or female. She states that you do not include her when you are talking to friends and colleagues and that she is suspicious when you speak to female doctors. Instead of insisting that nothing bad is happening I suggest that you reassure her that you love her and, even more, include her in the discussions when she is present. It is really important that she not feel ignored by you in social situations. In fact, that is a complaint I hear from many young couples: that one spouse ignores the other when they are socializing. Paying attention to your wife and including her when you are both with people could go a long way towards helping her feel more secure in the marriage.

Marriage is difficult and if the first year is hard, so is the second, third and etcetera. I know not only as a therapist but as a man who has been married for thirty eight years. As one couple, surprised when I told them this, responded by asking: "You mean, to the same person???" Yes, I have been married to the same person for that long.

I am not sure why your wife will not enter into marriage therapy unless she fears that it conflicts with her role as medical doctor and fears embarrassment. I am sure there are many excellent psychiatrists who would be happy to see both of you for marriage therapy. This could be done in a private office away from the hospital.

Best of Luck

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