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We know about our tendency to place the blame for a difficult marriage squarely on our spouse. But it is generally true that any marriage problem can be traced to some wrong attitudes or actions on the part of both spouses. Instead of focussing on changing our spouses (which will not succeed but will usually make things worse!) don’t we need to look at what we can do on our part to make things better? This becomes important especially when a marriage gets into stalemate, when one of the spouses refuses to move forward or go for counselling.
Marriage counsellors are familiar with the fact it is the wife who usually comes for counselling and the husband refuses to oblige. This is partly because the male ego likes to feel capable of handling his own problems and it would be demeaning for him to admit that he needs help! But what can a wife do, for example, when the husband refuses to change?
You must recognise that this is an unfortunate situation where there could be limits on what can be achieved. But miracles can also happen! So instead of feeling depressed about it and making things worse, you can start working on the way of recovery. In this way, instead of letting things go from bad to worse, you can make them better and better.
The best way to deal with a bad situation is to do good. Your husband cannot resist it if you keep doing him good even when he is bad towards you! Why don’t you start by avoiding critical and insulting comments and starting to show appreciation and thankfulness wherever possible? (Will he be shocked with the change?) Make some effort to know what all he would appreciate from your side (food, the clothes you wear, going out with him, cooperating with his pastime activities, sex) and try to make it more interesting to him. Think of things that usually irritate him (too much talk, disturbing him when he is busy, too much spending, too many visits to your mother’s place), and try to be more careful with those. Ask yourself if you have started neglecting your relationship with him after you have had children. You know, your relationship with your husband is more important and lasting than your relationship with your children. Your children will one day grow up, get married and leave you for their own families. But you two may be the best companions you can have in your old age.
Of course there will be need to overlook a lot of faults you find in your husband, because that is the way we all are—imperfect. The more quickly you can forgive, the happier you will be. It should not matter to you whether he admits his faults or not. You can forgive from your side and get on with life. After all, you also need a lot of forgiveness!
Ultimately good will overcome evil. Your husband will notice how good you are towards him, and he will change his attitude and behaviour towards you too. Don’t give up even if this takes time, because this is much better than your returning tit for tat (and getting ready for an explosion). Even if your husband is actually ‘evil’ towards you, you can salvage your own happiness by continuing to be good towards him. (I am not talking here about abusive husbands. In such cases you need to get the help of others who can intervene.)
Some wives are afraid that if they start behaving like this without standing up to their husbands their husbands will start to ‘sit on their heads’! This is a reasonable fear, but if you learn to express your differences of opinion and are willing to discuss them without turning them into fights, he will slowly understand that he too needs to become reasonable. As someone said, we decide our own happiness, and we make ourselves happy when we seek to make others happy.
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