Expert Speak

My wife is an only child and I think she is spoilt

He finds her behaviour immature and careless, and thinks it must be because she is an only child. Do only children make difficult partners?
sad man thinking

(Names changed to protect identities)

“Kanmani is an only child. Thus she gets away without shouldering any responsibility even in my home. During our first conversation she had told me that she lived a carefree life without any seriousness. Back then I thought that the confession came from an immature 22-year-old, and as was the norm, she would fit in and change after marriage,” began Manu with his marital aches. Manu is an engineering native of Karaikudi, working in Baroda.

He should have believed her before marriage

Oprah Winfrey said “When people say they are selfish or unkind; believe them. They know themselves much better than you do.” Oprah was right and this applies to all people. We think that people are just saying who they are at that moment and that they will change later, but not all people think there is something wrong in the way they behave and they have to change. Kanmani was frank about herself before marriage. Manu thought marriage and responsibility would change her.

Manu thought marriage and responsibility would change her.

Related reading: Marriage…not just being ‘together’ but being ‘yourself’ together

Why isn’t she more responsible?

“When she came to live with my family in Baroda after marriage, she proved herself right. She woke up at 10 am when I was already at work. She sat in the living room expecting a cup of coffee and breakfast. Then she spent the entire day in our room. When I came back in the evening she wanted to go out for movies, ice cream, long drives. Not one day did she ask about my office, or about my day. After marriage, there should be some sense of responsibility in her. She is an only child in her home, but here she is part of the family,” Manu complained.

coffee and breakfast

Manu was expecting changes from Kanmani, while Kanmani was complacent.

“She is an MBA and when I asked her to resume work, she said she isn’t interested in pursuing a career. I do understand that it’s her choice to work, but I wish her to be productive somehow. She walks out from home in the daytime without telling anyone. The first time she did that, my mother panicked. Kanmani doesn’t keep in touch with me through the day and therefore I have no clue about her whereabouts. I don’t wish her to take my permission to go out; just that she informs me where she is, so that we know about each other. I wouldn’t say it’s her immaturity; rather, it’s her carelessness. She doesn’t think these are all important in marriage.”

Life is a serious affair

“She lacks seriousness in life. She keeps telling me ‘Why do you take stress? Chill, Manu. I was accepted like this at home. Nobody had a problem about these things back home.’ But she isn’t chilled when she wants something. She is adamant to get what she wants. And she throws surprise tantrums to get her way,” Manu continued.

Kanmani behaves like a carefree only child. We cannot generalise that an only child is a spoilt child, but marrying an only child needs some careful consideration, as she is brought up in a healthy loving environment. Therefore she will demand a lot of attention and affection. Kanmani will require the same treatment. Only children aren’t difficult adult partners, they are slightly different from partners who have siblings.

Only children aren’t difficult adult partners, they are slightly different from partners who have siblings.

“She seems to be suffocated in our joint family and is clear in expressing it by eating in our room and watching TV when no one else is around. She needs more space and time to herself and does not like to be interrupted in her me time. Kanmani has a lot of friends who are more important than family to her,” said Manu.

Related reading: 8 ways to keep romance alive when living in a joint family

Being an only child has made her spoilt

To make up for lack of siblings, Kanmani has friends who form a strong support system and friendships are very important to her. She may appear selfish, because growing up she never had to share anything with her siblings nor did she have to wait for her chance. She got her way very easily. Therefore, she may also be impatient. There are chances she could also get explosive if she doesn’t get her way, as there never were two ways in her home.

“She doesn’t realise that she isn’t the only one in my world. She is used to undivided attention, as her parents have pampered her a lot. I know she is self-centred because she never had to jockey for parental attention and being served the second paratha or having to wait for a gift. She never had to share the limelight, while I was always under the shadow of my sisters. It’s like living with an immature adult. She is a spoilt child,” Manu ended.

experts advice

Not every only child is a spoilt child

We can’t blame an only child for the way she ended up as an adult when she has been pampered and brought up as the centre of attention. Most importantly, don’t address her as a spoilt child. Sometimes, a child brought up in a home of four children will also end up spoilt. Just because you had to share your toys and you are not possessive about your things doesn’t qualify the other person as spoilt.

Speak to your spouse and you will understand that the problem she has to share is the same the rest of us have. Their problems are slightly emphasised, as they have the OCS, Only Child Syndrome attached to them. “As only-child adults, we are forced to see the world through different eyes. People see us as selfish people. We get to hear the word spoilt so often. We view relationships differently and our expectations from people and life are different from those who have siblings. There may not be a common pattern among all the only-child adults, but I see that there are certainly a few ways which seem to be common to us,” said Kanmani when I spoke to her for the first time. When you speak to them, they are willing to open up and the problems will find an amicable solution.

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