India is known to be a traditional country, except in urban pockets where some people are more westernised and things are changing rapidly in favour of modernity. But one institution that hasn’t changed is that of marriage — people may be living together for the longest time, but, eventually, only if things work out, will they all walk down the aisle. Over the years, marriage has become very sacred and a bond of a lifetime for many. Once you are married, separation/divorce is out of the question for many reasons. People end up holding on to their marriage despite being unhappy, for different reasons such as children, family and society. Here experts give us an insight into why people continue living in such unhappy marriages.
Effects on an individual
An unhappy marriage can affect you in multiple ways and you won’t even realise it. Dr PD Lakdawala, psychiatrist, Bhatia Hospital says, “An unhappy marriage affects people professionally, personally and socially. They may also develop health issues such as blood pressure, sugar, cardiac issues, etc.” Relationship expert Riddhish K Maru narrates one such episode. He says, “Sidhanth Porecha (name changed) stayed in an unhappy marriage for 20 years. He was from an urban town, well educated and worked for a famous firm. Whereas, his spouse was from a rural area and was not that educated. Their thinking levels didn’t match and right from the beginning she suspected that he had affairs with his female colleagues. Because of her behaviour, he later started drinking, smoking and having extramarital affairs. They had two children, which was the only reason they were together. Eventually, he went into depression and started seeing a psychiatrist.”
Effects on children
Children learn by observing things around them. An unhappy and toxic marriage can harm a child’s emotional psyche. Dr Manjiri Deshpande, child psychiatrist at Docterz says, “Children witness an unhappy marriage, endure emotional anxiety on an everyday basis. They will spontaneously feel their parents’ misery and discomfort and sense their emotionless relationship and lack of affection and intimacy. In most cases, kids start blaming themselves for their parents’ broken marriage.”
A child’s future
You may be staying in an unhappy marriage for your own reason, but in the bargain, you could be destroying your child’s present and future as well. Deshpande says, “When they grow up, such kids fear to get into relationships and generalise that all relations end up the same way. They get overly attached to one parent and start disliking the other parent. Such children are at risk of developing mood disorders, substance abuse, oppositional defiant disorder, personality disorder, among many others. Kids may learn to abandon positivity and expect the worst.”
Affecting your children’s relationships
While staying in an unhappy marriage, often parents are worried about the damaging effects a separation or a divorce can have on their offspring. But, the disturbed situation can also affect their future in many other ways. Relationship expert Vishnu Modi says, “Such kids might find it difficult to trust in the institution of marriage. Your strained relationship might become your child’s norm in love. As they become adults, their pattern in love stems from the dysfunctional behaviour patterns demonstrated by parents towards each other. There is also the strong likelihood that your children will dread commitment as grownups, and pledge never to have the type of association you do with your spouse. This will eventually end up in letting them attract a string of temporary relationships.”
Time to end a marriage
There can be many reasons for a marriage to end — for example, one partner may be an alcoholic, promiscuous, not earning, is extremely abusive, etc. Lakdawala says, “If you try hard, your partner may change his/her habits after a while. You can even get the family involved. But, if things don’t take a turn for good, it’s time to take the final call. Severe personality clashes among partners because of their different lifestyles and misunderstandings over a longer period of time can also be reasons for divorce. In such cases, a lot of counselling is needed.”
End it for your child
Trying to decide whether you should stay in a broken marriage or leave for the child’s present and future is perhaps one of the most challenging and difficult decisions a parent could ever make. Deshpande says, “In such a situation if you witness that your relationship as a couple is getting strained by each passing day, it is also a good decision to end your marriage. Children are very sensitive and they tend to learn from their surroundings. Hence, for nurturing a better present and future of the child, it is better to end an unhappy marriage. Helping your child to understand why you both decided to live separately and assuring them that they will still be loved and taken care of by both parents is good for children.”
Relationship expert, Riddhish K Maru tells us signs which mean you could have stretched your unhappy marriage:
Decreasing love, care, respect and trust for the spouse and his/her family.
Don’t feel connected to your spouse or that he/she is special.
You easily get irritated with your spouse.
No sexual contact between the two.
There is always a blame game and both of you influence your kids to take your side.
Staying out of home for long hours.
First Published: Jan 05, 2019 12:59 IST