Spouse challenge: Whose life is harder? By Dr Pradnya Ajinkya


1] I wish my husband was dead. I know it is an awful thing to say, and if it really happened I know I would feel differently, but wonder if I would really miss him because I really am at the end of my tether. 

2] I was brought up by my family to think that when two people decide to marry, each makes a pledge that the other will be the most important person in their life. Couples may fight between themselves, over big things and small, but partners must learn to stick up and last. It takes a lot of shocks, revelations, compromises, and loads of friction to finally find a win-win, workable marriage. That's just how it is. 

3] My husband is involved in a family business with his father. In laws are kind, considerate, loving and very good souls. 

4] The Eighteen years it took to reach the point where I am today really bothers me. I wish I had been more vocal about the interpretation of my marriage. 

5] I was overwhelmed when my husband told me before marriage that, I am modern and hip in my thinking. You can wear whatever you please after marriage. There will be no restrictions. I am very liberal.  I know all this may sound a little bit harsh, especially given how society has conditioned us. But I want to say all this before we get into the legalities of this beautiful relationship. 

6] I was married to Sanjeev when I was 21 years old. In the sixth month after our marriage, Sanjeev told me that he wanted to do things with other girls and this was his way of buying sexual freedom. 

7] By the time the secret came out, I was emotionally involved with Sanjeev. We stayed married, but he continued to swing regularly. It began to ruin our lives. It was all too consuming. He would be holed up in resort rooms every week end with mixed and matched couples. 

8] It didn't seem normal to me.  He promised to set rules, but fun got in the way. There was one time, when Sanjeev came over with a sexy couple and he was talking to me about signing an agreement for sexual exploration with the couple. He said it would fetch me huge money. 

9] At this point, I decided that even if I loved my husband, I am not willing to give to what my husband was demanding. I made it very clear that I was not comfortable and unwilling. I decided to leave with my 15 year old daughter and 11 year old son. 

10] I am wondering how I will convince my parents and kids that Sanjeev will not be living with us anymore? I am sure they will not  fault me. 

11] I have been trolling around for a good counsellor. Your insights and suggestions would be most helpful.

Therapist: This is your relationship with your husband?

Meeta: No. He is the person I wanted to grow old with, and I love him deeply. We have been together for over a decade and we have been together through my parents with health issues, children, purchasing a home, buying cars and silly everyday things. Even in a dream and thinking of love and family, it's only him. He has this chronic sexual disorder. It is something that he needs and he is happy with. Is it only addiction Ma'am? Why am I not enough?  I am concerned about my emotional and financial survival too. I have lost many important years of career growth, making it difficult for me to get back on my feet. I really don't know if I am contemplating divorce? It's no picnic living without him. He is willing to come to counselling.

Therapist: 

1] Any marriage in which the couple involved have different goals and expectations will not be an easy relationship. The temptation to get things easier over time by creating rules and setting boundaries that will protect the existing relationship is not working. It may also mean that your husband should give up relationships that his partner finds threatening. Since it failed, your relationship did not build a foundation that can make both of you happy. Otherwise, both may have tried everything in power to help the partners feel safe and secure. This may mean that security is learned. 

2] The ability to compromise, and to negotiate a set of agreements that both people can function in, is absolutely critical if you are to make this work. Equally critical is a commitment to follow through on the things you say that you will do, and abide by the negotiated agreements in your relationship completely and without fail. 

3] The place where it gets trickier, though, is your husband asking you to become a swinger for fun and a prostitute for money. 

4] The conflicts experienced in which you were not aware initially and the determination to not internalize any acceptance of this alternative lifestyle on an emotional, intellectual, social and financial level will help us to explore your own value systems and the impact on your feelings. 

5] You may have the fear of losing your lover or spouse, yet it is important to gain awareness and acceptance of your own psychological reality and personal limits. 

6] The memory of sitting down to tell your parents and children explaining to them why Sanjeev, how Sanjeev and when Sanjeev  can shudder the family with fear and shame. 

7] To be honest, your husband doesn't think this is a big deal. Couples who openly swap partners with strangers, are becoming a growing trend in a sort of new sexual relationship revolution.

8] It is unclear though when the ritualised custom of selling a wife by public auction first began, but it seems likely to have been some time towards the end of the 17th century. It has also got a legal perspective.

9] Wonder to what extent your husband will introduce his alternative lifestyle to children. This can be too upsetting for the children.  There may not be any evidence of child abuse or neglect and the children may be well adjusted so far, but it is necessary to remove the children from immoral environments. 

10] Making the decision to not move forward in the above sexual exploration, we may consider to focus on what is best for your husband from his perspective without negatively judging his alternative lifestyle. 

11] You'll need to get past some mental roadblocks in thinking your husband's alternative lifestyle has something to do with you or you are not enough. He is probably not wired for monogamy. 

12] It is important to note that many swinger relationships may end up in prostitution and child abuse! 

13] Sanjeev is welcome to my practice. It may mean that we negotiate boundaries that are narrower than what you might otherwise want. Actions can be regulated, but feelings and emotions are a bit trickier, and care should be taken to control and dictate such feelings to be naturally inclined, whether by learning or by hard wiring, to need only one person in his life.  

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