Expert Speak

Married? Planning to have kids? You must read this

Dr Kalpana Khatwani tells us the secret to survive the seven-year-itch among other things
Woman in Restaurant

Dr Kalpana Khatwani, eminent clinical psychologist, answers that crucial question – when is the right time to have kids? Read on.

How do you see love serving the marriage, especially in love marriages?

First there is falling in love, which is a chemical process – endorphins, oxytocin, etc. Everything is abundant in the beginning. That can’t last forever. There are people for whom it lasts seven to eight years. My research claims that it lasts for seven years, till a family has been started and the little ones have been nicely taken care of, then the hormone levels drop. And actually evolution has ensured that that happens. So till the hormones are up, the couple stays together.

Once the hormones drop and say you have children within the first two years of marriage, then the child would be six or seven years old before the hormone drops, till then the baby has already been taken care of. Falling in love part is only hormones. That is completely biological. Then there is the staying in love and all that lasts for seven to eight years.

So with one kid or two kids, you just finish it off. And then what happens?

Then the hormone drops. Then is the next phase to see if the person truly loves the other person or not. Now comes the real person – once the hormones drop, the real person comes through – that is the phase that most people come to us in. The seven-year-itch is actually this. And in the first few years, a lot of sex happens and while the sex is happening, more and more of this chemical is generated. Oxytocin is generated and you are at a high. You are joined at the hip. Then slowly, you are not joined at the hip.

Every person then starts finding his own role in this dynamic. Women go to child rearing, going back to bonding with other girls – doing their role, and men go into their own individual spaces, going out, making money – which is very typical of the yan principle – this going out and making money while women go into the nurturing mode – the yen principle. Then before you know it, there is too much space between the two of them – that’s when they come to us. The woman says the man is very busy with his work. And the husband says – my wife is always busy with the kids.

Sometimes it becomes too late to talk…

So they don’t really realise that they are drawing apart?

No, they don’t, because they are too busy with their things and secondly as the hormone goes down, the real person comes up and fights start. That draws them away even more.

For us, the strength of the relationship is determined not by the differences between the couple, but how they resolve their differences.

The fights are about what?

The wife will say – we have our own family now – why do you have to go and sit with your parents after dinner? And the man would say – why are you on the phone, constantly on the phone? What is there between you and your friends? Why must you shop so much, why must you be on the phone so much, why are these bills as high as they are? Even with both of them working – the phone, Facebook, WhatsApp thing is causing a lot of distress.

So after seven years the exact falling in love happens?

That’s when all this happens. The hormones are not supporting us anymore. It’s like during menopause – estrogen is not supporting us anymore and we become moody. The real mettle of the relationship will be after they are able to get off some of the big hurdles – your friends, your drinking, your parents, my parents, can we argue in healthy ways and so on and so forth.

Anything can be resolved if you resolve it healthily. No name calling, no getting defensive, no stone walling, no criticism – then you can resolve any differences.

Published in Expert Speak

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