Recently when my husband and I went for couples counseling, the therapist said that she was amazed by the immense respect we have for each other and that is the true sign of love. She also added that if a couple respected one another they would never do anything to hurt the other.
This reminded me of my childhood days when I saw my parents fight almost everyday. My mother would verbally abuse my father with utmost profanity and the only way my father could protect his sanity was to physically hit her. While watching this physical abuse as a little girl my instant reaction then was to develop hatred towards my father.
But reflecting back on their relationship today, I realize that my mother never respected my father and even spoke ill of him to everyone. My father was a kind hearted person with no addictions of any sort. Since he was not someone who used curse words or complain to others, raising his hand seemed like the only resort to stop her condescending behavior. For a long time, I was scared of my father and remained distant from him. This distance I maintained must have made my dad realize his mistakes and he slowly stopped his abusive behavior.
My relationship with my dad improved with time. But that didn’t change my mothers behavior and on the contrary she got worse and so did their marriage. My dad had learned to develop a deaf ear to all her obscene comments. I always felt their marriage was on the rocks and depressing at times. I can’t help but wonder how different their lives would have been if they had gotten divorced or sought help from a couples therapist.
This left a lasting impression on me. I had promised myself then that I will never disrespect my spouse and will not let him disrespect me in any way. My arguments with my husband happens only after kids went to bed or in the modern way, venting by texting.
Simple gestures like hugging or sending “Love u “messages during the day to your loved ones matter. Even if it doesn’t mean anything to me it may mean everything to the other person. At times taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to show that you care about your relationships. Dressing up to impress your spouse, cooking his/her favorite dish, dinner date once a month, enrolling in the gym etc helps.
I have had several girlfriends of mine even today who complain of being physically abused by their husbands. Our first instinct is to stand protective of the female or the wife. I’m not condoning physical abuse of women . At the same time I also beg you to see the other side if those women are being verbally abusive or hurtful or disrespectful of their husbands’ before passing any kind of judgement.
Only person who can help a couple in a troubled marriage is someone who is unrelated to either of them and hence can give an unbiased perspective like a therapist. I once tried to act as a therapist for my best female friend who was physically abused by her husband and supported her through thick and thin. My sincere efforts failed miserably and today she is forbidden to talk to me by her husband. She is even forbidden to talk to her parents. After this experience whenever a female friend complains about abuse or troubled marriage I hand her a number of a therapist for fear of losing my friendship.
One must learn to respect oneself enough to walk away from anything that no longer helps her/ him grow or makes her/ him happy. If it’s a mans job to respect a woman then it’s a woman’s job to give him something to respect.
Dedicated to all the couples who are committed to make it work.
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