Good marriages teach you a few good things about relationships, bad ones give you a master’s degree. The marriage problems my parents had made me a Ph.D.…
“It’s my parent’s 50th-anniversary tomorrow…dad does not remember…mom does not want to…” This was my Facebook post on June 18 this year. As my parents completed 50 years of marriage, I was shocked at the kind of hatred there can be in a couple even after staying together for so long. As their relationship continues to be a living nightmare, I am sure they kill each other every night in their dreams.
June 19, 2019: Even though our eldest sister celebrated her 25th anniversary on the very same day, and both my parents were a part of the celebration, none of the three kids could muster the courage to wish them, or even remind them that it’s their special day too.
All of us have now surrendered to the fact that the marital problems in our parents’ relationship are beyond repair. It’s like a car that costs a lot of fuel, creates too much noise and pollution but doesn’t take you anywhere, or stops at turns that leave you stranded.
The best thing you can do with it is either sell it off or just let it remain in your garage for show.
5 Horrible Mistakes My Parents Made In Their Long Marriage
Through their mistakes, we, the siblings, have learned (or should I say unlearned) a lot about ‘how not to nurture relationships’. While we all may not have a personal legacy to boast about, all three siblings are trying their best to keep their family happy and not repeat the same mistakes that our parents made.
Marriage problems exist everywhere, yes. Most couples go through their share of ups and downs at some or the other point in their lives. However, my parent’s 50-year-old marriage was a constant cry for help. Having watched their marital problems from close quarters, here’s my takeaway on the five mistakes that got them to this point:
1. One person spoke, the other listened
Both should have spoken and both should have listened.
In the initial years of their marriage, my father had very categorically told my mom that if she has to live with him, she will have to live according to him and there are no two ways about it. And she did.
She never said a word, never reacted, never disagreed, never made a suggestion, never objected to anything, never raised her voice. Perhaps the only time she ever fought with dad was when I was sent to a boarding school at the age of 9.
The date was April 5, 1992. Dad had then listened even though he had no other option. I had to go to boarding school because everything was set. But as the kids grew up, got married, had kids, got busy with their own lives and mum and dad were left alone with each other, my mom refused to tolerate my dad’s temper.
Everything she had not done till now, she started doing it — they both get into frequent arguments, they both curse each other’s families, they both hurl abuses at each other, and they both are hell-bent on shaming each other.
I have seen my parents fight on numerous occasions but at times, the kind of language they use is appalling. And that also in shuddh Hindi, which makes it sound even worse.
Recently, they have even started sleeping in separate beds. Things are so ugly between them that there are times when I have asked my mom to separate, but the only reason she has stayed is that she has a secure life here and she is worried about “log kya kahenge.”
Solution: The best way to overcome this problem is by acknowledging one’s own problem of being stubborn. Once you are able to say that to yourself, the rest becomes a little simpler. Understand that you might need to take a step back or two and let your partner take the lead every once in a while.
The concerns, questions and deliberations of both partners are equally are valid, and as a person with a stake in this relationship, you must raise them. However, there is nothing wrong in bending the knee for your partner every once in a while.
Marital problems are always going to exist. It is all about what you choose to do about them.
2. My mother loved being in a sorry state
Monday, Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, this year, that year or the year before that, in the morning, in the evening, or in the night, my mother has always been sad. Marriage problems never seemed to leave her mind.
It’s like she and her sorrows are in an unbreakable relationship both refusing to part with the other. Even when there is a reason to be happy, she will find a reason to be sad. I think this is one of the reasons my dad could have drifted away from her.
Solution: When you are sad, it is easy to wallow and drown yourself in a hole of self-pity. You must avoid that at all costs. If you want to solve your marriage problems, you must be strong and resilient to fight them. Do not lose heart just because things are not going the way you expected them to.
Build yourself up before you get ready to deal with any marital problems. Marriage help starts with yourself and your own peace of mind. Help yourself, de-clutter your mind, understand what you want and be positive.
Related Reading: 11 Relationship Arguments That Spell Doom For Your Bond
3. My father was not supposed to be a family man
With time I have realized that my father is not the person who is supposed to fall in love, get married, have kids, do things for others and make sacrifices. Perhaps this was just not his personality.
Being a narcissistic husband, all that he cared about was his legacy, his reputation, his business, his mood, his money and even the kids are all a part of his secret plan to achieving something bigger for himself.
So, if his daughters got married into rich families, his status got a boost. But when his son got married against his wishes, it wrecked his image. It’s something that he will hold against me forever. And even though my mom religiously did things according to his wishes, it was never enough for him.
Solution: If your partner is increasingly domineering and wants things to go their own way, being seen or heard in the relationship can become near-impossible. This is where using the right conflict resolution strategies can help. To keep the family going, you must ensure you do the bare minimum to sustain the people at home and keep them content. Thus, you must ensure that you are doing the best for those around you.
If your partner is a narcissist, gaslights you or runs away from responsibilities, you must seek the right marriage help in form of therapy or counseling to work through these complex issues. When talking things out does not work, you may require professional help and you can get it here.
4. Age is not just a number, it matters
Never trust those newspaper articles that say, age is just a number and a huge age difference does not matter in a relationship. It’s a big fat lie unless you are looking for a sugar daddy.
Marital problems begin when there is a lack of understanding a generation gap can do that.
The age gap between my parents is huge, at least that of a decade. I think, because of this, they have failed to understand each other. There is a certain degree of compatibility that is exhibited in some age groups. Sometimes, people with vast age differences do get along but that is not always true.
Solution: If you are married to someone who is much older or much younger than you, do not fret. Of course, May-December relationships come with their own set of challenges but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not viable.
Acknowledge the presence of these problems and make conscious efforts toward fixing them. Take time out to understand your husband’s age-related needs and try to tell him about yours. Practice open communication and do not isolate yourself. Even if your partner is much older or much younger, try to do things together that you both enjoy.
Related Reading: Dating An Older Man In Your 20s – 15 Things To Seriously Think About
5. There is no intimacy between them
Leave aside getting intimate, I have never ever seen them touching each other or even holding hands.
Never ever have I heard my mother’s name from my father’s mouth. It’s a mystery how the three of us were born. Maybe the storks delivered us.
Perhaps there was a loss of attraction or a loss of love. Either way, my parents just drifted apart into their own personal lives without making the effort to become intimate with one another.
Solution: If your wife avoids intimacy or your husband is not showing interest in you anymore, it is time to change things up. Whether it is trying something new in bed or doing new activities together, some things just need to shake. You cannot allow this dry spell to settle and become eternal.
I am no relationship expert, but if you have read this article, I am sure there is a small iota of trust that you have in my thoughts, and I will suggest to you that fight as much as you want to but remember words hurt more than action, indifference ruins more than hatred and some marriages hurt more than divorces.
And if you really want to be happy with your spouse/partner, don’t take your fights to bed. And if you can’t do that, then in the morning, just forget what happened the night before. These are the lessons I learned from my parents’ marriage.