Predictable patterns of marriage strain
By Dr. Pradnya Ajinkya
Here is the case study of Rinkie a 46-year old woman. Her father's first wife died when his older two children were tiny, so he remarried. She remained the only child of the second wife. She was totally over protected from the first wife’s relations and her children. Whenever she was in a stressful situation - with school, friends, relationships - she was bailed out. Few years ago, she married her childhood sweetheart even though they had split up many times. There were huge conflicts between her and him about their relatives, whose family is better and whose mother is better. A year ago, they had a baby girl. It exacerbated all of the problems in the relationship and between the two families. And it always comes back to the mothers, the families, the differences, and which is better. She can't get her mother-in-law out of her mind, and has an inability to concentrate on work because she's so obsessed with the problems she has with her family. Her coping strategy is to talk, talk, talk, while her husband's is to withdraw, withdraw, withdraw. She seems to be fully aware of the issues involved, but she also believes that she has no power to control it. She requested that she may not be labelled even after the formal diagnosis.
While in the sessions for counselling and after a period of three weeks she manages better day to day, and she's calmer. She didn't do well with the (CBT), because she was not committed to the therapeutic process. If you looked at her file and her comings and goings, you would think she was very committed. She makes notes and keeps a journal. She works hard but has difficulty in integrating it. There's still no platform for this, there's nothing for it to grow on. I feel more like a coach who's helping her to maintain. And that might be the best we can do so things are a little better for her until she is mentally prepared to change. We discuss about the extremely dysfunctional marriage and about the child who may grow up with the same issues she has. A sense of entitlement and a lot of anxiety is seen when I try to point this out to her. She's full of grief about doing this to her child. But it's not enough to make her change her ways or resolve the marital issues or leave the marriage. So, for her it is necessary to stay connected with a professional help to work out or maintain the marriage.
A postscript : The bottom line is that the woman never developed any coping methods. Because she didn't learn any coping skills when you need to learn them and integrate them, she can't maintain any self-discipline. There's no firm foundation for her, so to the sand, to the feeling of not being comfortable. She likes the anxiety, and it kind of initiates her tractor.
Another postscript : One wonders: what has happened to the venerable institution of marriage? The real tragedy is that in this case, marital problems are due to the accumulation of many small things, such as lack of coping skills and mindless criticisms. These annoyances were tolerated during courtship but became increasingly unbearable when the magic of romance died.