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The evening drama

Jacob Ninan

Sometimes what a married couple finds to be most frustrating can be traced to a lack of understanding of some simple truths. Without knowing these ‘little secrets’ they rack their brains trying to understand what is going on, and end up giving up altogether. With their limited understanding they come to wrong conclusions about themselves and their spouse, and then even time spent in ‘conflict management’ proves to be of no avail.

Look at a typical scenario. The husband comes back from home and picks up a newspaper or switches on the TV and gets irritated with his wife who insists on talking to him about her day at home and at work. He either switches off his mind from her, or pretends to be listening giving occasional grunts of acknowledgment. She becomes mad at him and starts accusing him that he does not really love her and shows off her frustration by getting upset with the children! The whole evening gets spoiled, and this gets repeated practically every day.

When they sit down to discuss this, as they know they should, they only blame each other. He says he is tired when he comes home from work and she should not disturb him with all irrelevant details about what she did. She gets back at him saying that he does not care what happens to her or the children, and all he can think about is his own life. From there onwards, things get heated up and touch various incidents of the past, each one’s character flaws, their family members, etc. It is easy to see that they are at a loss to understand what is really going on.

The simple fact is that both of them are stressed out at the end of the day and they are both seeking to find ways of getting rid of their stress. The only problem is that both of them do this in different ways and they are unable to understand this difference! Men and women deal with stress in different ways. When men are under stress they would like to be alone to think about it, or ‘work it out’ through some sort of physical exercise. This can be very exasperating for their wives because when the wives sense that something is bothering their husbands they come along and ask them why they are worried and what is bothering them. This usually makes the men more upset, and they either show their anger or clam up. Then the wives imagine that the husbands don’t love them and are not sharing things with them. On the other hand, when women face problems they would like to talk about them and how they feel to someone who can understand them. If the husband is not listening to them they feel frustrated, and pass it on to the children or go off to talk to their mothers or friends. Many times they get wrong feedback and this makes them turn against their husbands.

When couples understand this, they realise that the problem is not a lack of love on either side. Then some people try to change their spouses to become like them. This does not work! The solution is to understand the real issues, and make some adjustments on both sides to get relief from their own stress and also provide support to the other person to do what he or she has to do. For example, when the husband comes home the wife could give him a cup of tea and allow him to have his time with the newspaper or TV to relax. After this the husband must give time to his wife to (actively) listen to her stories so that she gets her chance to relax. This dissolves the daily evening storm!

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