I am more qualified than my husband!
Ego is one of the major hurdles in maintaining a good husband-wife relation. In a patriarchal society like India, with women more often occupying better positions or earning more at work, wife’s success becoming the reason for marital discord is quite a possibility. This surely comes through as the main problem in Ms M’s life as we see from her question, we received for the column. Professionals of repute, Vasuprada Kartic, Psychologist and Dr Purnima Nagaraja, Psychiatrist discuss the issue at length.
Ms M: I am a successful professional. I am married to a business man, who comes from a business family. I am more qualified than my husband and as such enjoy a lot of public attention. What started as a minor friction became so huge that today we don’t enjoy anything together.
My children are paying price for this discord and that is reflecting in their school performance. To punish me my husband is indifferent and harsh with them. I suffer from guilt but can’t really help as I cannot leave my job that gave me dignity and self-respect. Please help.
Let me first start with the positives that you have held on to your work and able to manage your overall life. Your marital discord is possibly causing the other symptoms you have described, which need to be addressed.
The dynamics at play here are that your husband’s self-esteem may be suffering due to your higher visibility, perhaps he wants to get even by ignoring you or insulting you at home. It is a difficult task to come out of the core belief system of traditional families, stereotyping a husband as superior, and often other people’s remarks can also affect him.
Because you are emotionally invested in the relationship you need his encouragement, acknowledgement and support, which you need to communicate with him. The cycle of being independent and managing everything spirals into a series of miscommunications, where both of you may be hurt and acting like north poles of a magnet. Children cannot be a part of collateral damage, a strong mother like you must provide support, comfort, and guidance to them.
Instead of having or being a mirror of negative feelings, you can try noting the positives that have always been in your life- your good career, two beautiful children and in your marriage, the positives of your husband, and what strengthens your relationship. To neutralize negative thinking, envision positive futuristic thoughts where you see your life in a better state, your children are blossoming, and you are enjoying a holistic life.
In the context of actions, try to take positive steps to maintain your work-life balance, communicate your affection and values in words, gestures, actions, and perhaps nudge your husband and his (your) family in the direction of taking pride in your achievements. Please seek marriage coun-selling if you would like more support.
– Vasuprada Kartic, Anthroposophic Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Qualified, accomplished, popular!! A fantastic combination mixed with a good dose of being a good mother and home maker!! You really have it all.
But, in a culture that sees the man as the primary bread earner and the head of the family, you must be making not just your husband but many in your place of work insecure. I congratulate the fact that you haven’t hidden your accomplishments, talents and popularity like many women are forced to do as a way of dealing with male disapproval and insecurity.
While it is natural to take your anger out on the kids at times, do remember it can be damaging to their growing psyche. If they have already learned to play between both of your temperaments then your fights and the cold wars must be extremely visible, audible and palpable to them, which is not a good thing.
Children grow up normalizing strife and replicate the same behaviour in their lives. Also, there is the danger of them getting depressed and developing personality issues.
The situation you are in is not easy to deal with; however,
- have a straight and frank talk with your husband and tell him how much you care and respect him and how his behaviour is upsetting you.
- focus on his strengths and try to ignore his weaknesses.
- Appreciate him appropriately when you can.
- Try to go somewhere together like maybe an evening walk or to watch a film.
- Try to rekindle mutual respect and affection.
- Surprise him with a gift but don't be disappointed if he is brusque...
- Focus your energies on the children. Let them not get away with taking advantage of the strife. Give them lots of love and attention. Do lot of fun activities with them; not only will it divert your mind from the unpleasantness but will forge an unbreakable bond with your children and prove extremely valuable in their growing up years!
- Seek a friend or confidante to unload your frustrations. Once the load is lighter, it makes life easier.
- SSeek professional help to deal with your own depression and other personal issues.
- Pick up a hobby, learn a new language, make lifestyle changes to help deal with stress.
- Lastly, you are invincible…remember that always!!
– Dr Purnima Nagaraja, Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
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