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Marital Stress

Question:

I am a 32 yr old Indian girl, married for the past 10 yrs. I have 2 kids. I have been frustrated with my husband’s behaviour towards me from the beginning. I live my life almost like a single full time working mom. My job is demanding and I need to spend a lot of time at it. With all this, I work really hard at providing the infrastructure to the family. The demands never end and whatever I do seems to be not enough. Constantly, my husband is complaining and takes out all his anger and frustrations at me for nothing. His behaviour is very unpredictable. He keeps saying that I mean a lot to him and he loves me, and on the other hand, he continues to verbally torture me with all the complaining and finding fault. He expects people to listen to him and execute his orders. I am a very independent person and I pretty much take my own decisions and it is hard for me to nod my head to everything anyone says. I want to create a healthy atmosphere for the kids to grow up. So now-a-days, I have stopped arguing with him and I just keep quiet. But In this process, I am getting affected internally and I feel frustrated and angry and depressed within myself. I do not know how long I can continue in this way. My health is getting affected due to this. Are there any suggestions that you could give me to avoid conflict ??

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

According to the theorists and experts, an healthy marriage and family system should be constructed like the Titanic before it sank with water-tight compartments separating the various parts of the boat into different sections. Assuming that the compartments are kept sealed, problems that develop in one compartment need not cause problems for the other compartments. In the case of the Titanic, the boat sank because the compartments were not properly sealed at the time of the accident, and water entering the broken compartment was able to get into the other compartments resulting in the ships destruction. In a marriage, there should be a wall between what transpires between the husband and wife on the one hand, and the children on the other. If such a boundary can be maintained , you and your husband would be able to work out your differences without adversely impacting your kids. Unfortunately, keeping such a boundary is the work of both parents; it cannot be done by only one of you, and if the two of you don’t learn how to cooperate without impinging on the feelings and needs of the other (and I’m speaking mostly about your husband here based on what you’re telling me), your marriage might end up sharing the same fate as the Titanic. While your attempts to keep the peace by maintaining silence are admirable, they don’t seem to be working out for you, in part because your husband doesn’t seem to respect your intentions (and indeed may be clueless as to what you are trying to accomplish), and because you are not allowing yourself the right to assert yourself and your needs, and the suppression of your needs is making you frustrated and angry. He may be handicapped in appreciating your needs by his seemingly traditional desire for a dutiful and passive wife. Dutiful you may be, but passive doesn’t seem to fit. The situation might improve if you and husband agree to make nice around the children, and also find a forum (away from the children) where you can work out your differences. Marital therapy is a good place for doing this sort of thing, as the therapist can help facilitate real communication of needs between partners, and offer a forum to do it in that is removed from the household and the children.

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