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Heart To Heart

Friday, September 24, 2010

My marriage with my husband was against the wishes of his family. For the first one year, I wasn’t allowed to enter my mother-in-law’s house and used to stand below the building while my husband visited his parents. Then due to my husband’s persuasions, I was finally allowed. But even today, I am not able to take the way my mother-in-law treats me. Whenever we visit her, she only complains about either my father-in-law or my husband. She does not care about me and competes with me. Whatever I do, is not enough. If my husband praises my cooking or anything I did, she chastises him. She always finds fault with everything I do and makes me feel guilty for being a housewife. She passes indirect remarks about how I am a burden on my husband. And she does all this behind my husband’s back, because he stands up to her if she says anything to me in front of me. It really hurts me. I don’t like to go to their place but my husband feels bad if I don’t. What should I do?

Your husband seems to be caught between trying hard to be the ‘good son’ and the ‘supportive husband’, and is placing an unrealistic demand on himself and as a result even on you, to create the mythical feeling of ‘one big happy family’. We are sure this demand is also taking a toll on him as his loyalties are stretched. You say that your husband stands up to your mother-in-law whenever she says anything hurtful to you. Moreover, the circumstances of your marriage are enough evidence to prove that the relationship between you and your in-laws cannot be an affectionate one, and at best can only be one in which you meet them on formal occasions and maintain a minimum amicable contact, with as few verbal exchanges as possible from your side. This fact needs to be clearly and constructively communicated to your husband, that while you are willing to have a minimum amicable contact with them, which is being sensitive to him, it is equally essential that he, as well as you, be sensitive to yourself and not subject yourself to avoidable hurt. The fact that he has made a decision to marry you and still stands up for you, demonstrates that a reasonable talk with him will show him the impossibility of the unreasonable demand he is placing on himself, you and his family to give him the ‘picture perfect family’. You of course need to understand that your mother-in-law has her own insecurity issues for which she obviously has very little resources to deal with, and you are a convenient place to vent. If you can find it in your heart to understand her insecurities, feel happy for the support of your husband, and keep minimum amicable contact with her, you can make peace with this situation.

Accidental exposure to sex

While me any my wife were performing intercourse in our bedroom, suddenly our child (aged 6) entered the room and saw us in that state. I wish to know from you that what are we supposed to do in such situation?

To prevent something like this from happening, we recommend you to lock your bedroom door every time you are going to engage in any type of love play. But if such a situation occurs, it would be most appropriate first to ask the child to leave the room gently, yet firmly. Then, when you get yourselves decent and presentable, you could go out and have a talk with the child. You could explain that what the two of you were doing was loving each other sexually - a time of pleasure for a loving married couple. But it is private, so it made you uncomfortable. Allow the child to talk about his/her feelings and ask any questions he/she might have. If this type of accidental exposure is handled with care and openness, damage is not likely to result.

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Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle, M.D. (Bom)
Consulting Sex Therapist & Counsellor
Dr. (Mrs.) Minnu R. Bhonsle, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychotherapist & Counsellor
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