by KParthasarathi 31 Dec 2008
Imagine a scenario where both the husband and his young wife are working. Both leave for office early after a breakfast of cereals, bread toast, fruit juice/tea and come late only. The wife comes around 7pm and the husband around 8pm. They have the lunch at office. The husband expects a three course full- fledged dinner in the night. On Sundays he tells his wife the special dishes he has a weakness for. She is also working in a private company where the work is demanding and exacting. She goes early and tries to return earlier than 7pm to prepare dinner. She gets totally exhausted by the time she finishes the work. He comes around 8pm equally tired and worn out. He is famished and rushes to the dining table after a quick wash. She would like to rest in bed for half an hour but cannot. There are no hugs on meeting each other, no holding of the hands or even a gentle touch but only a faint smile. After dinner he watches TV and she reads novels and both fall into sleep soon after.
Sundays are bugbear for wife with so much to do. She would expect her spouse to help her voluntarily in the chores of the house when he would be busy with computer downloading some stuff or uploading pictures/music. He would be talking interminably with his buddies or relatives on his mobile. He would be unaware of what his wife is doing. The doing of dishes, loading the dishwasher, putting the old clothes in washing machine separately for white and coloured,taking out the garbage and dumping it in allotted bins, ironing his own clothes, dusting and vacuuming the house and minor errands like visiting grocer are all that cannot be handled by the wife alone. She wouldn’t ask him feeling that he should be aware of the need to help out. He would be occupied with his own work and assume that there is nothing for him to assist her as she had not sought his help. In such a situation resentments turn into subdued anger. They are not communicated properly but in body languages that are mostly misunderstood. Over a period of time an emotional chasm builds up between them, affecting gradually love, romance and physical intimacy. Ego plays a large part in such a denouement. The problem lies in both not communicating their disappointments in cordial manner then and there instead of nursing the grievance inside. The expectations should be told specifically without making it appear as a command.
There is another cause for resentment. One of the spouses mostly, the wife, would expect the other to be always by his/her side anticipating and meeting all their needs. However close the couple are, each one of them need their own private space. It is virtually be impossible to cater to one person as there would be others to reach for in official, social and personal spheres. The husband may have his own binge sessions with his buddies, bridge tournaments and tennis/golf or whatever while the wife may have her own friends, kitty parties, and social circle while to confine either of them always to the other would rob the variety in life and make one dependent on the other. Different people have different skills which we may need and which cannot be provided by the spouse like in music, investment advice, spiritual needs, culinary/arts, and games.
The most important contributory factor for resentment is lack of communication. The usual response would be if he/she loved me why I should ask. However close the couple are it would not be possible to know all the expectations of each other. They do not have the powers to divine the thoughts in others minds. That would not mean they love each other less. Some are sharp to observe but many take things for granted unless asked specifically. It is therefore necessary to have frank chats in intimate surroundings during postprandial walks or while lying in the bed before sleep. The talks should not be inhibited by shyness or cut short by abrasive responses. There should be an open mind, a willingness to listen carefully and to genuinely understand the other point of view. There cannot be total agreement on all issues and a fair and reasonable give and take policy should be adopted. Questions need to be asked and an effort made to understand the way the other partner is thinking. At the end of the conversation there should be a feeling of coming closer and strengthening of the bond. Sharing of the concerns, the burden of the house, a trust and openness in all dealings are prerequisites for a harmonious living. It cannot be one person’s responsibility.
When the wife has cooked a splendid meal, it is not enough to enjoy the meal and stuff the stomach but it should be preceded by remarks of genuine appreciation. Frequent pats on the back are great motivators. Likewise the wife must learn to applaud the work of the husband even of day to day nature like mowing the lawn, cleaning the attic or trimming the hedges. Respect for each other even where they do not see eye to eye fosters greater agreement eventually.
One of the partners may have certain skills the other lacks and this one may not have the strengths the other one has. The differences should be acknowledged and should never be a point of ridicule.
The spouse or the family have their own priority and commitments for taking them out or going on a holiday or visiting relatives/friends should not be broken on other grounds like invitation to a party in office or cocktail by friends or some official work unless earth shattering. One must learn to say no to such invitations to show respect to spouse.
“Harmonious family living is about creating open communication, respect and even discipline. A household can be peaceful without being silent! It is about respecting each other, treating each individual as an individual, being consistent with your boundaries and communicating in an effective manner”.