Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making Marriage Work

What happens when a true blue,no no,fiery red Arian marries a cool,cool Aquarian? The former is a fire sign while the latter is air.Presumably there will be fireworks.Air will add to fire's potency & the flames will go sky high.Or it could also extinguish it completely.When air adds to fire's vigor is it a good omen?And what if the opposite happens?What transpires in the Arian's mind then?Endless possibilities there.Impossible to predict.Nor could i,when i married my BH--best half,better half, bitter half or bad half--depending on my mood.Therefore let us leave speculation aside & enter the arena right where the shenanigans began.An untold story unfolds:

The journey started on 13th April 1968.Now I know what the grey cells are telling you;but believe me it is a lucky number for some.As I was saying BH was an army officer,belonging to a martial race(see Mars comes in both our resumes),and steeped in the old feudal traditions.Poor me-born & brought up in New Delhi,believing in the equality of genders!I had never been to Punjab ,while his home town was Gurdaspur.But that was nothing compared to the nitty-gritties which drove us.
I was nothing if not frank,while BH could never say things outright.This used to infuriate me no end-not that it served any purpose.I was rather impetuous,impatient & impulsive,but you could never catch him off- guard.He would react to everything at his own pace.If we came across any hurdle you would find me all worked up,but BH,he was made of steel.As cool as--I don't know;can't think of anyone as cool as him.I could go on & on,recounting the dissimilarities between us, but I don't want to bore you to death;or risk you leaving my blog for ever& ever.

Anyhow,three things saved us from falling apart:one,he was & is a perfect gentleman;second,I had been cautioned by my parents never to answer back;& third,I was,and still am,scared of fights & acrimony.My home has to be peaceful at all costs.In this way we began to tread on thin ice underlaid with mysterious landmines.

The biggest fetish that BH has is,his hatred for criticism-his own of course.He doesn't mind criticizing me! Now I am a fanatic for system & order while he--er let it go.Add to this my compulsion to call a spade a spade & you can imagine the outbursts which never failed to surprise me whenever I pointed out a mistake on his part.Similarly,he does not like anyone giving him advice.Now I don't have this vice-of giving advice right,left & center;but sometimes in favor of the family's good,it does become necessary to do so.I was foolish enough to embark on this path in the initial fiascoes,but now whenever I have this urge I couch my thoughts in the form of a question--like"Do you think it is healthy to eat a parantha for breakfast every day?Should we try something else?"I have also learnt to wrap up my critiques in palatable casings.Like,if I want to tell him to walk up straight I will instead praise so & so for his erect posture.I can see instantaneous results without any rancor.

He has another quaint habit:he expects me to agree with everything he says.Or rather expected me to;because after umpteen face-offs,this characteristic is finally on the wane.The clashes on this front were inevitable & numerous;because no matter what the topic of discussion,our views were invariably contradictory & I could not,for the life of me,pretend to agree with what I did not believe in.I am relieved that today we have fewer spats on this account.

It is really strange that in every possible way my opinions,convictions & predilections are diametrically opposed to his.Whenever small odd jobs like changing a tube light,fixing a tap or an errant toaster,need to be done;he will pick up the phone & outsource it to someone.On the other hand my first choice is to try & do it myself.Anyhow this is not such a bad habit because he does keep our home in good functioning order.

I often complain that he does not help me in household work but he is tops when it comes to filling my kitchen,fridge & pantry with all sorts of goods & goodies.He has also taken it upon himself to water the plants in our garden,fill up the room coolers & overhead tanks ,& also take out water from the Aqua guard .But apart from this,no one has ever seen him sullying his hands with any household chore.

Money matters could be a vile bone of contention between any couple but our roles are strictly demarcated.He has to earn & I have to spend.See-no overlapping or ambiguity here!I must admit that till date he has never refused me anything.But I too have never made any exorbitant demands; except for the setting up & running of Sahyog,this computer that I am working on,& a few diamonds here and there. Sahyog reminds me,though our ideas differ on so many things,he has stood staunchly behind me,in so far as the activities concerned with this mission of mine are concerned.Without his  support this would not have been possible.

Food is another risky area.Well I am not much of a cook but he,cute soul,gulps whatever is given to him.I am sure he would have even cooked for me-if only he knew where the kitchen was!

What else-yes our temperaments-now this really demanded hard labor.We were both very hot-headed to begin with but BH has brought about a colossal change in himself.I too manage to keep my temper in check.As far as being diplomatic is concerned,I have the best guru at home & am learning by & by.Whenever I am stimulated rather dangerously,I look at him to see how he is taking it,& then I simmer down.No harm done!

My BH is a devout disciple of Lord Shiva & Lord Hanuman but I believe more in Arya Samaj.I am not much into rituals,pilgrimages & visits to temples because I think God is omnipresent.Today he too agrees silently with my convictions.Celebration of any special day in our house is now done through a simple yagna.I really appreciate this change in him.

He is an inveterate creature of habit.Everything in his life must follow the same fixed routine.On the other hand I thrive on change.Whether it is the decor of the house,or my routine,or my hobbies;I tire of the sameness.Therefore I must push the furniture around every now & then.It was very perplexing for him in the beginning but he accepted it as a necessary evil.Not a murmur of protest ever escaped his lips.I tell you this is a big sacrifice on his part.

As i near the end of this post I myself am amazed as to how we have stuck together despite so many incompatibilities.Initially the rough protrusions of our personalities jarred raucously,resulting in friction & frustration for both of us;but we carried on.The thought of divorce never crossed our minds.Today,with the wisdom of so many years of married life behind me,I realize that we had two options:either we took umbrage at every collision;or just let it zoom over our heads & ponder how to avoid it in future.Thankfully,we chose the second option.

Some say that a human being's basic nature never changes but I say that it can,& should be moulded to suit the circumstances.But of course both the partners ought to make efforts to meet halfway.The love which results from living together over many years,grows strong because it comes after mutual acceptance of the other person's faults.After this transpires, life begins to flow smoothly & we even begin to love the other person's idiosyncrasies!What better way to end this post than with this quote:

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#Marital Abuse-The Deadly Tie

Choosing a life partner is serious business.And risky.Risky because a wrong choice could jeopardize your health,happiness & safety.Any number of irritants could breed discord in a conjugal relationship but the one which is deadliest of all is-abuse.As we all know,abuse could be emotional,physical or sexual.Most of the times,it is the female who is the victim.Almost always,this truth is hidden scrupulously from outsiders.Strangely,it is the victim herself who will go the extra mile to hide it.In this way a crime which could plumb to the depths of torture,inhumanity & crime,is assured immunity from law & societal censure.This cuts off the victim from all probable sources of support & protection.Her isolation exacerbates her vulnerability.

Let us consider what all a victim has to put up with.Emotional abuse starts innocuously enough.The tyrant wants to have everything his way.He does not like contradiction,criticism or debate.If she fails to comply he may withdraw his affections or give her the silent treatment.Going a step further he may bully her into obeying his orders.Or still worse,he begins to humiliate her as being incompetent, uncouth,uncultured--or un-whatever.Equality?Respect?Consideration? No sir!These words do not exist in his dictionary.

As for physical abuse,starting from threats & intimidation,it could go on to pushing,slapping,hitting,punching & thrusting upon her,sexual acts which she abhors.Adultery & betrayal would pale in comparison.

This is followed by more emotional & psychological abuse.She is made to feel that it is her fault that all this is happening to her.There are glaring shortcomings in her personality & behavior which fuel his righteous anger.A victim is branded as the root cause of the fracas.The whole purpose is to demoralize her to such an extent that all thoughts of resistance & rebellion are quashed for ever.

An episode of abuse is generally succeeded by acts of repentance,conciliation & promises of better behavior.As a result the victim shrugs it off as a one time occurrence & stifles all thoughts of reporting him to the authorities.If the abuser sticks to his word then of course nothing much remains to be said.A more stubborn spouse or partner could be brought around by consulting Marriage counselors or Psychologists.

But what does one do when a violent episode is followed by another & then many others ? Slowly the time gap between these episodes decreases untill it becomes a daily routine.Minor scuffles give way to serious acts of aggression and she is likely to suffer grievous injuries.In order to ward off future attacks ,she tries to please him by following all his dictums.The more she caves in the more domineering he becomes.Her efforts to buy pace give contrary results.Here i am talking of a compulsive sociopath or a psychopath whom it is difficult to reform.Life with such a person is not only stressful but also dreadful.It is not unusual for such a relationship to end in the victim's death murder.

On the emotional front she lives in a perpetual state of fear,shame&impending doom. It is but natural that this sort of life leaves a ghastly impact upon her psyche.There is mammoth erosion of self esteem & confidence.She loses all hopes of fighting her tormentor & finding peace for herself.Nor can she see any savior coming from outside to rescue her.

There are three reasons why this is so.Firstly such an anti-social personality keeps his private life hermetically sealed from prying eyes.He is also very good at impressing people by his pleasing ways.Secondly,he has probably shackled his wife well&proper.Thirdly,she herself being ashamed of the treatment meted out to her;has wilfully severed all ties with relatives,friends & well wishers.All in all,she finds herself alone & helpless in face of grave danger.

Therefore if a woman realizes that she is living with such a person,it is time for her to take stock of the situation.She has to decide whether she wants to stick it out or get out fast.Here are some warning signals which can aid her decision-

*She tries hard to please him in every possible manner.Obeys him.

*She is scared most of the time.Dreads being alone with him.

*Minor clashes give way to major brawls.

*Small cuts or bruises are replaced by deeper cuts,welts or fractures.

*Violence becomes a daily feature.

*Her mood deteriorates consistently & she feels that she is slipping into depression.

If any victim feels that she can relate to some of the points mentioned above,then it is certainly time to break free.But this is not how,many sufferers view it.We are often amazed as to why they continue to live in such  hell-holes.The answer to this question is as complex as the situation itself.Perhaps--

*She is not economically independent.

*She does not have any support system to fall back upon.

*She is afraid of being alone.

*She is apprehensive that if her own home could not offer protection to her,how will she find safety outside it's confines.

*She still has love for the perpetrator.

*She hopes he will turn over a new leaf.

*She is afraid that if she leaves her conjugal home,it will sully her image.

*She has been conditioned to believe that her husband is her superior & she should put up with his behavior-however cruel it might be.

*She does not want to opt out because of her children.

*She has had a traumatic childhood & thinks that she deserves no better.

*She has no knowledge of any agency which can offer shelter to her.

*The villain of the piece has threatened her 
with dire consequences if she dares to leave him.

Thus we see that there are so many factors which pressurize her to stay put despite serious danger to her life.However it is necessary to point out that today there are many Shelter Homes run by the Central Social Welfare Board of India for the protection of such women.State Social Welfare Boards & various NGOs also provide such facilities.In addition to this there are Mahila Thanas & Family Courts to help women in distress.Over & above are various laws which shield women from atrocities & punish offenders.The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 offers protection to not only wives & live-in partners,but also to sisters,widows & single women living with the abuser.More information about this Act can be found here.

Putting up with abuse or getting the abuser punished is a very personal decision.Only the aggrieved can make a choice.But turbulent circumstances tend to cloud a person's judgement &it is advisable to consult a counselor at such times.At the risk of being labeled an oxymoron i would say that while patience & forbearance can resurrect a sagging relationship;putting up with a life-threatening & increasingly violent relationship is counter productive.It is best to get out of it while there is still time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

They are around

Yes i am happy,
To be alive.
What is it,
That gives me the high?

Those who were,
An integral part,
Are now lost,
Somewhere in dark.

I wish i could hear you,
Calling my name,
Touch your wrinkled skin,
At least once again.

Your boundless support,
And unsaid reprovals,
Helped me grow roots,
And find my soil.

You entrenched me well,
On this spinning earth,
Had you not been you,
I would have had no worth.

You have not gone,
You are living in me,
Your values & beliefs,
Are sustaining me!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Recluse

Soak no more in tears,
You have suffered for years.
Singed & scarred by unrelenting fate.
Scorching has been,your life to date.

You had fashioned a world,
With love & care,
Twas smashed in seconds,
Laying you bare.

You chose to crawl ,
Into your shell,
But it was never,
Any less than hell.

You are trapped,
In a maze of thoughts,
They are merely ghosts,
Of what once was!

This stormy grind,
Of your churning mind,
Has pushed you into,
A deep ravine.

Forsake this shell,
And you will find,
You yourself have cast,
Fetters that bind.

The tongues of fire,
Have long retired,
Gird up , retrieve,
Your lost empire.

Much was lost,
But a lot remains,
Cup it in your hands,
And build again!

A person who is dogged by persistent misfortune sometimes loses hope & the zest for life.He isolates himself from all & in this way blocks all chances of recovery.If only he would gather courage to make a fresh start he could be happy once again.