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'My father-in-law dominates our life. Pls help'

By ANU KRISHNA
Last updated on: August 05, 2022 15:31 IST
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In this weekly self-help series, mental health and life coach Anu Krishna tells you how to take control of your life.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Is your relationship causing you stress?

Are you feeling lonely, helpless, indecisive?

You are not alone!

Mind/life coach, NLP trainer and mental health guru Anu Krishna wants you to talk about your problems.

Every week, Anu will answer your queries, address your concerns and offer expert advice on how you can take control of your life.

Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail it to getahead@rediff.co.in (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.

Meanwhile, here's the unedited excerpt from Anu's latest offline session with readers:


VT: Hello Anu ji, It's been 2.5 years since my wedding but my woes are never ending.
My husband is unable to manage his father who continues to dominate our life. He is bad tempered and extremely patriarchal.
He keeps shouting at the drop of a hat and has damaged my husband's relationship with my parents and sisters.
He keeps forcing me to leave my job and get pregnant. His behaviour is abominable and is causing me lot of stress.
He has to have a say in everything and doesn't allow us any freedom.

Even after seeing everything my husband refuses to accept his parents’ mistakes and continues to be fearful of his father.
Please advise me how to turn the tables and win over my husband. We keep fighting every time because of his father.

Dear VT,

Constant interference can be very messy in a marriage.

If you had a friend facing a similar situation, what would you tell her to do? Grin and bear it OR do something useful like asking someone he hasn’t burned bridges with to talk some sense into him?

By the way, what is the reason he behaves the way that he does?

Is it insecurity because he thinks he is losing his son or is he financially supporting you and your husband? Surely there’s something that is making him be the person that you described.

It will help to understand that as well, so that you are not overlooking any emotional challenges that he is facing and projecting it onto your marriage.

Whatever it is, it's time to allow someone into this and have that person talk to him and bring things to a place where father, son and you can actually talk about how things are in the marriage.

Please start this now…

All the best!

 


AK: Hi Anu, I have one question in mind need suggestion from you, please guide me.
I am 42 year old and married I have two kids as well. My married life is all good and peaceful and I love my family lot.
20 years ago when I was in college I was in love with a girl, she did not like me that time but from my side it was very pure love. I loved her so much.
She was aware of that. We lost touch in 2004. Now she is also 42 and married with two kids.
During Covid in 2020, we again got connected on LinkedIn and started talking. I expressed my love. she understood, respected and valued it now.
She is still waiting for someone else and doesn’t feel complete with me. She is honest about her feelings and communication.
She told me she considers me only as a friend but above all and everything in life.
But many times she shows love and lots of affection, caring attitude. She always says that I am more than anything else in life to her and she does not want to lose me as well.
She wants me to remain with her as she feels I am her strong support system.
She shares everything with me and I do the same. Sometimes I feel I shall come out from this but at times I feel I don’t want to leave her as she looks very depressed.
May be from her past break up or something else but I do not have the courage to ask her.
What shall I do here? Please guide. What is your best suggestion?

Dear AK,

It’s a nice convenient connection.

Why don’t you stick to the way it is rather than expect it to be something different? Expectations can be disappointing and may spoil what already exists.

As humans, we fail to see and experience what we have and constantly crave for the things that we don’t have, don’t we?

The two of you are fond of each other but to project your feelings from the past onto the current scenario might unnecessarily cause a ruffling of feathers.

Will it be wise for you to accept things the way they are now? Enjoy the company and chats/calls the way they are? And be grateful that you can be a good support system to one another?

Is it possible for you to do this?

Respect her wishes when she says that she wants you as a friend and try not to read much into her actions.

If the fact that she is getting close to you is going to be decoded as being more than a friend, you need to watch out as your thoughts could lead to a major letdown for yourself and for her as well.

Pause, take it all in the way it is and accept it gracefully…

All the best!

 


CM: Hi Anu, We have been married for close to 8 years (2014). Had our first princess in 2015 and second princess in 2019. Before having the second one, my wife had a very good sex drive both mentally and physically.
We were having intercourse for at least 3 times a week. But over a period of 3 years after our second child being born, my wife has lost interest.
Sex has been like may be once in 30 to 45 days. I am not forcing her but rather trying my best to have those intimate moments like hugging tightly, kissing her, do a little bit of smooching, try to touch and kiss on sensitive areas like belly, feet, ear. But nothing is working and this desperateness is killing me inside.

I need your advice on this.
How do I ensure that my urge is satisfied?
In what way do I engage my wife to have intimate moments and intercourse? This however should not come at the cost of hurting or pressurising her for my needs.

Dear CM,

This is a common challenge that many couples I work with face.

Babies take away their freedom to become intimate and this causes a lot of tension between them.

So let’s break it down for you, yeah?

Your wife right now isn’t the same woman she was before.

Being a mom, and a full-time one at that, is a huge job. A seven year old and a three year old at home can only mean full-time attention to them and little time for herself. When a woman is focused on her role as a mom, she invariably forgets who she is or how she looks; her job as the primary caregiver is all that she knows and does.

She is invariably tired and will think about rest, not action, in the bedroom. This is something that I want you to understand. Be more empathetic towards this; maybe you already are!

Now, what you do for her outside of the bedroom will define what happens within the bedroom. So,
- When was the last time you complimented her on her good looks?
- When was the last time you offered to care for the children so that she could step out with her friends and have a good time?
- When was the last time you took her out for absolutely no reason and made her feel good about herself?
- When was the last time you volunteered to cook and take care of the home while she simply sits and relaxes?

Motherhood can be very challenging, especially when the children are young.

Maybe you have tried all this and I am not about to push you back and not consider your side of the story.

But hey, she’s the one who has carried the babies, so it’s natural she is going to be around them.

Do sit down together after the children are asleep and watch a movie.

Do ask the extended family to babysit the children while the two of you spend a day doing things that you did before the babies came along.

Be aware that as you focus on yourself and your pleasures, you might forget that she is missing them too and that, at this point, you can help her feel like a ‘woman’ again.

It takes two to tango. Nothing can be one-sided. It will only end up becoming a selfish act which I am sure you are aware of. Try what I have suggested and let me know.

All the best!

 


MS: Hello Anu. I hope you are doing well. I follow your column and read your posts.
I have a different issue. I am single and 30+ years. I have no complaints as I did not find any suitable guy to marry. I had a happy and busy life before Covid. However after Covid, lockdown and this work from home life has become monotonous. I not only lost my uncle due to depression but lost my friends due to fights and misunderstanding. I believe in giving importance so I tried to patch up with my friends but they prefer to break all the connections and move on. I have always had a thing for respect and to be valued. I moved away too coz I felt it was the right thing to do but somewhere it hurts me a lot that I am not able to hold on to my friends who knew me for so many years. How can someone get abandoned and not want to talk and sort things out?
I feel I am overthinking it when the others are not even bothered or thinking about me or it. I really want to move away and focus on my life and career. I try doing it but many times there are so many things that reminds me of them and I get stuck and emotional again.
I am trying some meditation and journaling but it does not seem to clear my mind.
Hence I thought of checking with you.
Let me know if you have any advice for me.

Dear MS,

Time to make amends?

You clearly seem like someone who likes being around friends and has allowed a bit of ego take over, which has perhaps pushed them away.

So go back to them! Make amends, apologise for what’s happened and tell them how much you value their presence in your life.

Focus on what is good in them and what they bring into your life. No one is perfect; expecting them to behave in a certain manner and letting your pride come in the way will push them away.

Even if you move away from them and make new friends, the same thing will happen again as there is a part of you that expects something they can’t do or be.

It's time to look within and make some subtle and useful changes so that people are attracted to that person in you who is fun and compassionate.

Also, you can continue with journalling and spend time listing down the best qualities in each of your friends.

This will help in celebrating them for who they are and it really makes you feel good from within. It works!

Best wishes!


MK: I want to keep it anonymous.
I am a 30 years old independent woman married for 5 months only.
My husband and I were in same college but were not friends.
He had been approaching me for getting married since 2017, but every time I had rejected his proposal, later in February, 2021 I talked to him openly and mentioned my inability to conceive if we get married.
To which his response was that he really liked me and is ready to accept me with my inability.
I made our families met and we got engaged.
During the one year of courtship period, initial 4-5 months were peaceful, but he and I were missing a bond, yet we thought may be with time we will find it.
After the initial phase as we started meeting for family functions.
He started finding flaws in me. Things like, I stare at other men when I go out, I don’t give him priority, why do I talk to any male friend beyond necessity, why do I praise my senior at office parties etc.
He started controlling me in these areas and used to get angry if I talk to my siblings late night.
I started feeling trapped and suffocated, and always under the fear that any of my action could make my husband angry.
In that anger he seemed like a very different person, someone aggressive.
We started fighting, arguing over petty things.
He wanted me to change but I was reluctant as those were very normal things for me and I started telling him that this relationship is not working.
We are two persons with different mindset and ideologies and since we are unable to reach to a solution over any issue, let’s call it off.
I tried to call this wedding off for like 6 times, but he never agreed to this stating that he loves me and he will change his attitude and will not stop me from doing anything.
Whenever I tried to break up with him he'd start crying, stating things like you are my only happiness in life, and I would die without you and all.
I involved my family into the matter and shared things with them.
They used to call my husband to make him understand my expectations from him.
In front of them my husband used to admit that he would change his behaviour.
He used to stay calm for 5-6 days and then continue with the same attitude.
Basically, it was an on and off behaviour from his side and because of that my behaviour was also affected.
I was trying to see his positive side as he had accepted me with my inability, so he must be a good person.
Somehow, after so many issues, we got married.
After marriage, we went for honeymoon, but he showed a different attitude.
He started insulting me that I stare at other people, including the waiter.
He would fight with me aggressively, and when I cry he'd calm me down stating that this fight is my fault; had I not done this he would not have fought; had I obeyed him he would not have gotten angry. Then he used to make love to me.
For 4 days this happened continuously.
On the 4th day I told him I cannot stand him and bear his mind numbing torture.
If he sees so many flaws in my character we must part our ways, and there is not point of staying together.
He agreed but later he started apologising, asking for another chance to this marriage. I agreed.
But his behaviour didn’t improve much. We used to live with his parents, he started taking active participation in local politics which used to keep him busy.
He started controlling me indirectly for visiting my moms and relatives.
He'd taunt me for not sharing my salary with his parents.
Later I found out his work is not running smooth and he is not making enough.
The issue of staring at men and shaking hands with men while greeting congratulations, was also an issue to him.
He'd remain normal as long as I did things as per his wish.
If I said or did anything opposite, he'd get aggressive and disrespectful towards me.
Love was nowhere around. He never said I am a good looking woman. My husband rarely complimented me though I get many whenever I go out.
He seemed not to be bothered about me except for the time I do something he doesn’t like.
My mom also supported him. His behaviour started taking a toll on my mental condition and I started feeling uncomfortable around him.
I stopped being physical as I was feeling emotionally detached.
The fights had broken me, my bare minimum expectations were not fulfilled.
My husband also broke relations with my family and was disrespectful to them.
Initially he had promised that I will be free to visit my mom whenever I want and he will not seek my salary ever or doubt my character, but nothing turned to be true.
After 4 months of torture, I came to my mom's place and told my husband that I cannot live with him.
I actually feel much better without him. As soon as he knew that I am leaving him he has surrendered and is admitting that he made mistakes and doesn’t want to lose me.
He says I am his only hope in life and he loves me a lot and can’t live without me.
He does the same emotional drama every time I try to part ways with him.
My family is pressurising me to give him another chance. But my trust is shattered beyond repair.
He made my cry, he pushed me into depression.
I do not respect him. He accepted me with my inability, but I feel he never liked the real me.
He is not ready to admit this fact that we have not been good for each other.
To me he seems like a male chauvinist, a dominating and controlling person.
He stays grumpy most of the time, behaves well with others but is arrogant with family members.
What do I do? I am in utter confusion, I am unable to force myself into a love-less marriage and my family and husband doesn’t understand it.
(I am a government officer and my husband runs a small business)

Dear MK,

This is a classic case of crying out, blaming the spouse for the crying and sending her on a guilt trip, promising to do better, not following through and when she walks out, crying out again.

It's cyclical and traps you within in the loop.

He really needs to work out his stuff with a professional, else this is going to be something that you have to deal with repeatedly.

To not be able to take responsibility for his actions, shifting blame onto you, acting insecure and preventing you from leading your life the way that you are used to -- like talking to your family and friends -- are all red flags.

Step up, take charge and suggest that he goes to a professional if he wants the marriage to work.

If he doesn’t and continues the same way, you know what you must do to secure yourself and your life.

All the best!


Anu Krishna is a mind coach, author and co-founder, Unfear Changemakers LLP and Soulful Exploration LLP. She's an NLP Trainer (National Federation of Neuro Linguistic Programming, NFNLP, USA), Energy Work Specialist (Institute for Inner Studies, Manila), Executive Member of Indian Association of Adolescent Health (M.I.A.A.H) and Member of Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI). She has authored the self-coaching book: The Secret of Life – Decoding Happiness.

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