Sunday, December 19, 2010
As Akash explains his marital relationship, there are tears brimming in his eyes. He looks down, unable to look the therapists in eye as he talks about why his marriage was not consummated even though they had been married for nearly 4 years now. They met at a wedding and he was instantly drawn towards Alka. Before the week ended he proposed to Alka through a common family friend. Alka and Akash met a couple of times before they committed to get married. As they courted, Akash sensed that Alka seemed disinterested in him and he asked her about her lack of enthusiasm, but she brushed it aside. They got married shortly and didn’t get much time to discuss this further in all the wedding preparations.
The wedding night Alka seemed to be very scared of sexual intercourse and Akash thinking that she will overcome it as time goes by, focused on making her feel comfortable in his joint family. Despite Alka’s efforts to be an ideal wife and Akash’s efforts to break the ice between the family members and Alka, she was unable to mingle with her family. Soon there began arguments which turned into huge fights between his mother and Alka. Initially he tried to explain to Alka that his mother used strong words to express her disappointments and that if she just let things be, it would help bridge gaps. But Alka was unable to digest this and started withdrawing and/ or getting righteous whenever she was criticized. Often they would end up in an argument wherein Alka felt that Akash was unable to stand up for himself and her. She complained of feeling unprotected in the family environment and they decided to move out on their own to maintain peace, sanity and intimacy in his marriage.
He got the desired benefits and they became closer to each other in their own house. Alka also started coming out of her shell and shared her feelings of how she thought that Akash was very naïve and not smart. He felt extremely hurt initially but also started matching up with her expectations of a husband. So he started learning dance, grooming himself well and even life coaching for his business. They now seemed to share some fun moments, however he was perpetually falling short of her expectations. He seemed to have gotten out of his mothers rows of criticism only to fall in love with a person who only could match his mother in being critical.
Soon he started feeling insecure and jealous of all his friends and cousins who seemed to evoke respect and / or interest of his wife. He found himself often in the periphery of their life events and withdrew further into his depression. He would often wonder with whom his wife talks to when he was at office. So he started giving ‘surprises’ to his wife when she least expected to check on her activities. On one such visit, he found his cousin cum business partner and wife in a compromising position. This is when he totally lost his faith and he started hurling abuses at her and at the same time criticizing himself. She unable to bear the abuse in a no – love marriage decided to move out into a rented apartment by herself. This made him even more insecure. He started begging and pleading at times in hope of getting her back and at other times he would shower her with violent abuses.
He blamed himself viciously for the break up of the marriage at times in his therapy and at other times he felt absolutely justified as she seemed to have evoked / instigated all this. It was now at a point wherein he did not know how mend their marriage. He was unable to forgive or forget her. He felt like an animal and was ashamed and scared as well as angry. Let us look at some of the theories to understand how and what this jealousy is and how one can overcome it.
Jealousy is a complex monster that develops from the melding of three other emotions - fear, anger and love. Romantic jealousy can be defined as “a perception of a threat of loss of a valued relationship to a real or imagined rival”. Jealousy in committed relationships is cultural and universal as a boundary-setting mechanism to protect certain relationships as important and exclusive. to protect the relationship of physical intimacy and self-disclosure from trespassers. In fact, all committed relationships, where physical and emotional intimacy exists (including purely sexual relationships), will be subjected to jealousy. Early attachment problems with significant others are known to profoundly affect feeling secure in future relationships, particularly the capacity to initiate and maintain loving relationships in adulthood. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.
According to the attachment theory of love, an adult becomes a secure lover, avoidant lover or an anxious-ambivalent lover in his or her romantic relationships based on the quality of his or her childhood parental relationship. Secure lovers are people who are comfortable with intimacy and have no problems with others feeling close to them. In contrast, avoidant lovers feel uneasy when close to another person. They have difficulty trusting or depending upon a partner. The third type, anxious-ambivalent lovers want to desperately get close to a partner, but often find that the partner does not reciprocate the feeling. This insecure relationship is often due to too much anxiety within the relationship stemming from the feeling that the partner does not really love them.
When "paranoia" or extreme distrust, arises in a relationship there are many factors which can be causing it. It is absolutely necessary to understand where these feelings are coming from, or else it is easy to act out in the relationship, blame the partner, put all kinds of unhealthy demands upon him, and even believe that he is cheating on you when he is not. Not only does this destroy his trust in himself and good feelings about himself, but he can easily grow to feel there is no way he can please you, or make you secure and happy.
When an individual gives into these feelings of paranoia, (or extreme fear, suspiciousness and jealousy,) and begins to create more and more restrictions upon the partner, or demand more and more information about what he is doing, this is often the beginning of the end.
Loving another person does not mean possessing them, or having them there simply to help you feel better about yourself. This does not take their needs into account. It is not loving or respectful of them, of who they are.
In all relationships each individual needs time alone, time with friends and of course time together. When we take away a person's individuality and freedom to enjoy all aspects of their lives and grow, we are not behaving in a loving way. Sooner or later the individual begins to feel it, and can feel trapped, misunderstood and blamed falsely. Naturally, they then often think of ways of getting out of a relationship such as this.
Much like infidelity, distrust can leave an indelible mark on a relationship and challenge even the strongest of marriages. Depending on a variety of circumstances, such as whether or not distrust and dishonesty have become a constant in the relationship, couples can work through past hurts to become closer together if both are committed to making positive changes.
If one requires that their partner take away the pain they are feeling, they will be disappointed sooner or later. They are looking in the wrong direction. No matter how loving a person is, no matter how solid the relationship, they cannot take away pain and confusion that exists within oneself. We have to take responsibility for our feelings and work them through on our own. Psychotherapy is an insight oriented process and helps couples achieve this. Do not hesitate to take professional help of a psychotherapist if you find yourself going around in circles.
Handling insecurity and jealousy in a relationship can be difficult. However, change is possible once you understand their underlying causes. In order to overcome insecurity, people need to:
* Be willing to be put in vulnerable positions in life where they might get hurt.
* Take risks to change their current behavior.
* Trust others enough to expose themselves to them, risking vulnerability and the possibility of being hurt.
* Have a healthy and humorous belief in themselves in order to overlook their exaggerated need for acceptance and approval.
* Take a rational approach to each problem they face so that they are no longer inhibited by debilitating fears or beliefs.
* Practice assertive behavior in their lives, earning respect and the acknowledgment of their rights.
* Arouse the courage to take small steps in learning to experience success and overcoming their lack of belief in self. Once the success is experienced, they can build on it to gain the courage to act out of a strong conviction in their self-goodness and worth.
* Break the barrier or outer shell of the self-doubt they have hidden behind and reach out to others. Breaking out of their "shells" requires letting go of past hurts (real or imagined) and moving on with life.
* Open themselves to the possibility of success and accomplishment. Visualize or make a prophecy of winning at life so their energies are focused in a growth direction.
* Reward themselves for who they are and capitalize on their strengths, attributes, skills and competencies.
Answer the following questions to handle insecurity:
a. What behavior traits signal my insecurity?
b. What happened in my past to make me insecure?
c. What are some of my beliefs that account for my insecurity?
d. What are some negative consequences I've experienced due to my insecurity?
e. What behavior traits do I need to develop in order to overcome my insecurity?
Even in a loving and open relationship, it is normal to experience some paranoia or doubt. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed with distrust and suspicion, it's time to confront your spouse. Whether he or she is guilty or not, it is important that you clear your conscience and put yourself at peace.
Confront your spouse but avoid making accusations at all costs. Your spouse will automatically react defensively, and if you are wrong, which you very well may be, you run the risk of making some painful and potentially permanent dents in your relationship. It is never a good idea to hurl unfounded accusations at your spouse. Instead, approach him or her with compassion and trust. Tell your spouse that you have been experiencing some worries in your relationship. Make sure and let your spouse know that you are approaching him or her out of love and a genuine concern for your relationship. It is extremely important that you do not attack them or judge them before finding out all of the facts. Specify what concerns you, keeping in mind not to accuse.
Accordingly, if your spouse is the one experiencing doubt, the most important thing to remember is that he or she is simply concerned out of love for you. Instead of immediately lashing out in defense, take time to consider what your spouse is saying and consider how it might make you feel if the situation were reversed. Instead of getting offended, be compassionate and empathetic. Your spouse will calm down when he or she sees that you have truly have nothing to hide. A defensive response, even if you are not guilty, makes you look as if you're trying to divert attention from the issue at hand.
Doubt in a relationship has serious and obvious consequences, and you and your spouse must work together to eradicate these feelings and concerns. Jealousy is a very strong emotion and often a culprit in leading to marriage breakups. It helps if there are intense emotions and hurts to take help of a psychotherapist who can sit down with both of you to help each of you gain objective insights into your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours which are causing this drift in your marriage and help you both arrive at a solution.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Even in the strongest of relationships, there will be times when small irritations can cause mountains to grow out of molehills, so it’s important to keep striving for better communication. Good communication involves both partners being aware of their own thoughts and feelings and expressing them in an open, clear way. When a person communicates effectively, there is congruence between their inner experience and their outward expression.
As the essence of relationships, communication has a great impact on every aspect of life. Yet the channels of communication can sometimes become blocked, even among people who care deeply for each other. It’s often difficult to put our feelings into words or concentrate fully when our partner speaks. Unhelpful silences or verbal attacks can arise and drive us further apart.
Common barriers to communication include: threatening or unpleasant behavior such as criticism and bossiness; only hearing what we want to hear; getting bored or distracted; and not expressing our point clearly. Fortunately, working on our communication skills helps us to break through this sort of impasse. So follow these tried and tested tips to stop you reaching for the expletives and reach an understanding instead.
No matter what else is going on, try to make time for your partner on a day-to-day basis. Good communication is about deepening your understanding of each other, not simply avoiding arguments. Easier said than done, of course, but making time to talk is worth the effort. All being well, these occasions will be enjoyable and bring great rewards, so make a dinner date, share a bath or go for a walk together and let the conversation flow.
Secondly, remember the importance of intimate, non-sexual contact. Hugs and kisses are the glue which holds a relationship together, and consider activities such as sport to reconnect non-verbally. Psychologists believe the vast majority of communication takes place without words through body language.
Do you believe you know everything there is to know about your partner? It may be worth checking this out by asking them questions to reveal more about themselves. To deepen the communication and understanding between you, try talking about the times when you feel happiest or your hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way you do.
This could bring up relationship ‘hot spots’ – work, money, childcare – which can then be dealt with openly. Experts suggest setting up reciprocal arrangements in which you both agree to take on an equal number of tasks and chores.
Arguments and disagreements between husbands and wives are normal. However, prolonged anger, frustration and resentment are not healthy for the relationship. What couples should engage in is arguing positively whenever conflicts in the marriage arise.
Edit the Argument
Refrain from saying out loud every single angry thought during an argument. Sometimes, talking about sensitive topics can turn really ugly if everything is let out. Couples who edit their arguments are consistently much happier than those who don’t.
Start Argument Gently
Stay positive. Bring up problems gently instead of in an accusing and sarcastic tone. Don’t start the argument as if you are preparing yourself for a big battle. When the tone is non-confrontational and the starting point has been given a lot of thoughts, the chances of the other person listening positively also increase.
Set High Standards in the Relationship
Successful married couples usually practice zero tolerance for hurtful behavior from each other, even when they were newly married. The lower the tolerance level for bad behavior in the early stages of the relationship, the happier the couple will be later on.
End the Argument Constructively
It’s common to see couples shouting at each other and ending the quarrel without any real solution, leaving both parties feeling drained and resentful. This can be prevented by learning to repair and exit the argument.
For instance, before the argument goes completely out of hand, change the subject, use humor, make caring and considerate remarks or show that you are both on the same side. If it’s too heated, call for a time-out. Agree to talk about the issue at another time.
Happily married couples make at least five times as many positive remarks to and about each other as negative ones whenever they discuss an issue. So focus on the good side instead of the bad. In the heat of the moment, try to stay calm and accentuate the positive. See the other’s point of view while showing respect, and then look for a compromise that you can both accept. Listen carefully, give empathy and positive responses, and overlook the insults. Respond to criticism as useful information, if at all possible! Remember, the objective is not to stop every argument but to stop the escalating bitterness.
Give each other chance to constructively talk
Often couple either using emotions or anger do not allow the other to talk. This further adds to frustration. Give space for the other to talk and empathize by repeating the same sentence using the key words of what the spouse has said.
To succeed in a marriage, a husband needs to be able to accept influence from his wife. Most women have no problem accepting influence from their husbands but for most men, this is something they need to learn.. A real partnership exists only when both husband and wife can influence one another in the same manner.
It’s alright to argue every now and then in a marriage. In fact, arguments help keep the marital relationship strong and healthy. The trick is to argue positively and constructively. Editing the anger, starting arguments gently, refusing to accept bad behavior towards each other, exiting the argument properly, focusing on positive statements and accepting influence from each other are strategies that smart couples use to stay happily married amidst arguments.
Accept responsibility of your emotions and thoughts
If you find yourself slipping into an argument, there are many ways to keep the row healthy. Most importantly, own your emotions by using “I” statements. For example, rather than “You make me angry,” or “This is all your fault,” try saying, “I feel concerned/upset…”. This keeps things calmer and makes it easier to compromise, as your partner will not become so defensive. Then keep to the point rather than slipping into attack and counter-attack, or emotional withdrawal. But talking this way is only possible if you are aware of your own feelings. For this, you must recognize them, be accepting of them, and able to express them. We each have our own way of dealing with conflicts – your style may be to avoid the issue, give in, or blame the other person. Being aware of your style and that of your partner will help you resolve the situation.
If either partner gets beyond the point of being civil and rational, ask for a “time-out” to calm down. But be sure to agree on continuing the discussion when you have had time to think about it.
Bear in mind that one of the secrets of happy couples is learning to tolerate or accept the other person’s faults. So-called “perfect relationships” do not exist, therefore small faults need to be accepted. Couples counseling encourages reaching an acceptance of one another through compassion and empathy, so you both come to truly understand the other person and become able to share your own feelings in depth. Then you can see the underlying reasons for their criticism or silence, perhaps they are really feeling unloved, rejected or hurt.
Having awareness of these techniques and skills is only half the battle – you need to develop them through practice until they become second nature. It will be an effort to change long-standing habits, but improving communication in your relationship is worth doing, as poor communication is one of the top causes of unhappy relationships.