ASK ANU: ‘We used to be a happy couple but…’

In this weekly self-help series, mental health and life coach Anu Krishna tells you how to take control of your life.

Is your relationship causing you stress?

Are you feeling lonely, helpless, indecisive?

You are not alone!

As part of an initiative to help 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.

  • Ask ANU: ‘I feel suicidal. What can I do?’
  • ASK ANU: How do I deal with loss of a loved one?
  • Are couples fighting more in the lockdown?
  • ASK ANU: Do couples have less sex after marriage?

Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail it to [email protected] (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.

Meanwhile, here’s the unedited excerpt from Anu’s latest offline session with readers:

KG: Hi…I feel totally stuck in life…not only me my husband too feel helpless.

We both don’t know what to do in such situation. The problem is we have a son who is 22 yrs old, doesn’t want to work; wants to stay at home on pretext of preparing for any exam.

He is not even studying at home. We can clearly see that but he refuses to go out for work whether at his own shop or for a job.

We have given him enough time to stay at home for studies but every year there is different exam for which he wants to prepare. He doesn’t study sincerely at home.

At least 5-6 years have passed. He’s not even attending his regular college for studies.

All he wants is to stay at home. He refuses to step out from his comfort zone and has become too aggressive and abusive.

Please guide us what we can do to motivate him to work. Thank you.

ANU: Dear KG, why would you keep indulging his whims?

The message to him from you as parents is loud and clear: Keep procrastinating by enrolling for new courses and then be in the comfort of home while you do this, and we will be absolutely okay with it.

When nothing else works, at times you need to take some drastic steps. Rewind to the time that you were raised by your parents… how much of leeway did you have? Did you get the long rope everytime?

There were rules, there were expectations to be fulfilled, there were needs to be met by you and the consequences of not adhering was not very pleasing.

Parents in this day raise entitled children who simply think that ‘anything goes’ with their parents.

It’s time you took the reins back from him; be stern and loving at the same time. He better realize that this time you mean business! No more entitlements…

You are helpless today because of what you were afraid to set down as rules…

Nothing is lost; so lean in and be the parents that he needs the most now to set his mind rolling in the right direction for him. Enable him to be responsible for his own actions and also evolve his own set of goals and achieve them.

A good Peak Performance Coach can absolutely do wonders for your son in terms of direction, goal setting and stepping up. Kindly look this up soon.

And as far as what you can do as parents is, help him build himself and if he falls, let him…pick him up lovingly BUT never step in to solve issues for him. Enable him…

Best wishes as always!

VN: Dear Anu Mam, I may sound very silly but I have a very small issue which is bothering me a lot.

This is my second marriage. My ex husband who is now no more used to physically abuse me so I had to separate from him, a few years later, he passed away.

I remarried after 4 years and now have a 2 yr old daughter. I stay with my in laws. I am working and also manage the house.

My husband doesn’t feel responsible towards the daughter in any way.

He is always finding excuses to let her spend time with me. Ditto with my in laws who are also very old and cannot take care of a toddler.

Since I am also working and managing the house, there are days I feel extremely tired and helpless. But none of them seem to notice that.

We have a maid who helps around the house. I feel very lonely and guilty sometimes.

If the lockdown is lifted, I don’t know how I will manage everything.

I can’t afford to quit my job and be a full time homemaker. My in laws don’t want me to put the baby in daycare.

They are indirectly suggesting that I quit the job or look for some profile where I can work out of home.

I don’t want to bother my parents. But I feel very helpless and there is no one to give me an honest solution.

ANU: Dear VN, This is possibly the story of many women in India who live in a joint family system and are having to adhere to the family systems of that house.

Other than caging the women, it doesn’t do much…It’s like a forced choice, wherein she needs to give up the career, look after the home and the child and the baby.

Of course, your in-laws are simply being a product of the belief systems of their generation that obviously honed the skills of a woman as a homemaker.

Breaking that in their minds is definitely going to be a task, but not impossible.

Obviously your husband is falling into the same system and unwilling to support you in the manner that you want.

It is imperative that you broach this topic with your husband and request him to bridge the gap between you and your in-laws.

He also needs to be made aware that spending time with his daughter is not out of duty but is needed for a stable emotional growth.

Every home comes with its own set of rules and rituals that are governed by age-old belief systems. And a joint family system requires every member to contribute to the growth of the other; sadly at times, they work at cross-purposes to satisfy their ego and stress their authority.

Bring in a neutral person/relative from the outside to subtly show them that times are changing and so can they.

On your part, do not go on an emotional tirade and meld into the system as it’s your default home system and you must respect it for what it gives you; security and the company of many family members.

Work your way through it with love and understanding that everyone is different and to integrate these differences into your life may help you grow as well.

Subtle and beautiful balance as you satisfy your needs as well as theirs.

Best wishes to you!

R: Dear mam, I am married for 14 yrs. Love marriage.

I used to work earlier but quit because my husband was earning well and he said he will take care of me and my son.

We used to be a happy couple but during the lockdown my mother-in-law and sister-in-law decided to move in with us.

Slowly they started creating issues between my husband and me often badmouthing my behaviour or complaining about me.

I was unaware about it until recently when we had a big fight. That’s when I realised that they have been planning to drive me out of the house and get him married to someone else whom they can manipulate.

It’s been over a year now that my husband is not even talking to me properly.

I went and stayed with my parents for some time but even they feel I am a burden and should adjust and accommodate instead of giving them reasons to fight. They don’t understand that all this is politics.

Now my husband is talking to some girl whom I don’t like. That is causing more problems and fights between us.

Anything I say is used against me now. Please help me mam. What to do?

ANU: Dear R, why did they start to create issues between you and your husband?

What led to this? It rarely happens that people go after people with no reason.

Did you have any reservations about them coming and staying over?

Did you express it in some form to them? (Ask these to yourself so that you know that any act on your part did not lead to this situation. Of course, nothing justifies their plotting to get their son married behind your back).

If the answer to this is NO, then it’s time to confront your husband, get a mediator and put things on the table.

What does he want? What do you want?

Do you both want to continue in this marriage?

What are his responsibilities towards your son?

These need to be addressed without anymore delay. Being in a limbo state is not fun as it keeps you guessing and the uncertainty can cause a lot of stress.

Also, kindly sensitise your parents towards what you are going through, so that support you in this time of need.

Act NOW and whatever you decide, put yourself first and take care of you emotional state of mind.

Best wishes!

SK: Anu Mam, in your video you mentioned about healthy communication.

I have tried many times to initiate communication with my husband but he is very biased. He shuts me down immediately in front of his parents and friends.

It’s very embarrassing when he does that in front of people we know.

He likes to dominate and make fun of me which everyone else seems to enjoy but I don’t.

If I tell him that he feels I am being a spoilsport.

He says I have put on weight and look fat after marriage and I don’t have a job that’s why I am getting all these negative thoughts.

My mother in law also never supports me. She doesn’t tell if her son does something wrong.

If I make one mistake she will blow it out of proportion and discuss in front of everyone. That becomes another topic for argument.

All this is making me very annoyed and affecting our marriage now.

We don’t have a child yet but we are already fighting every day. Please help. I just want to start a happy relationship. But I don’t know how to do it.

ANU: Dear SK, commenting on your body image honestly is no one’s business and by no one I also mean your husband.

He absolutely has no right to body shame you and make it a topic of jest.

The nest time, he calls you a spoilsport, please feel free to comment on his looks, his accent, his performance behind close doors and watch what his reaction is.

Sadly, his male ego will be hurt; at least it will give him an idea as to what he has been you through.

Communication as I mention must be firm and assertive; it must convey exactly what you want rather than what you don’t want.

And as far as it goes for you in-laws, ignore their childish behaviour towards you…honestly you cannot control anyone’s thoughts or actions and they are free to do as they please. But what gives them fuel is that you are provoked and hurt.

Is it possible to be unaffected by what people say of you and about you?

Yes, when you own your body image and are unapologetic about it!

Your body, your way…as simple as that and anyone has a problem with that, then it’s their problem!

Be at a lot of peace and act wisely!

AD: Hi, I am stuck in my marriage relationship for some time now.

I had an arranged marriage to a girl we knew in our family. She had lost her father and her mother begged me to marry her and give her a life.

I agreed because I knew her. Only recently I realized that she doesn’t love me at all.

I earn Rs 30,000 a month and we stay in my father’s 1BHK flat which he has shared in my name.

She wants a share of my property and wants to separate me from my family.

She is now threatening to divorce me and file a complaint against my parents and me for forcing her into marriage.

Her mother is also quiet and doesn’t interfere. My parents are very troubled. They can’t do anything and I am feeling stuck.

If I have to divorce her, I will have to pay her money which I can’t afford. Also I cannot stay with her because she doesn’t want to live with us.

She only wants my money. How to solve this problem? I don’t understand. Please help.

ANU: Dear AD, Kindly consult a good lawyer who is unbiased about divorce and client rights if divorce is the path that you want to take.

Lawyers on both sides can strike a good agreement and it can be settled through mutual consent.

If you want to settle the matter amicably and continue live under the same roof, I guess it requires everyone to set aside their differences and talk about it; and I only hope for your sake that, that can happen.

Whichever the path, never tread on the path of helplessness. Instead move to a space that empowers you in any which way.

Best wishes as always!

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