Friction and disagreements occur in all relationships including marital relationships. As the family structure becomes increasingly nuclear, either by choice or migration to other countries or cities, or as a result of the choice of partner (outside of the community), there is an increasing lack of support for couples in marriage. The possible lack of a close confidant beyond the immediate family can lead to increasing stress levels beyond tolerance and end in a feeling of loneliness and depression.
Let us look at some of the factors that contribute to this loneliness. An important factor is distorted and faulty communication. This usually develops over a period of time where the couple stops listening to each other, sees the other partner as someone who is degrading or looking down on them, an increasing use of abusive or aversive behavior, insistence on their words always being correct, and rather immature and childish behavior. Provocations can include the behavior of the parents of the partner, the child rearing practices or even the inability to conceive. However, these build up over a period of time and there can be multiple provocations to settle into a feeling of constant mistrust…and failing to hear or understand beyond the words.
Finances can be a source of friction for any relationship and especially in a career oriented relationship with both partners working. Several issues on the handling of money can arise including who is spending how much and on what, how much is each partner contributing to the family, how much expenses and what expenses are reasonable, who pays the loans, how much are you sending your parents, all can become points for friction. The issue of my money, your money crops up leading to more friction.
Another important point of friction is the amount of time spent together.Each partner may have their own interests, preferences and pressures where the time spent together gradually reduces. Several issues come in including ” we are in a marriage, have lived together for long and know each other, why do we need to spend time together”, taking each other for granted, why do we need to spend time together like we were courting each other. However, life is dynamic and keeps changing…and each event will require some planning, coping and adjustment…and some time spent together.
Career choices can also lead to friction. A partner transferred to another city or town or country can lead to an upheaval of the life of the other partner. The other partner who might probably be well settled suddenly has to accommodate to a possible loss or change in career paths, limited career options, the need for additional qualifications. All of these can lead to stress and friction especially if one partner has to stay back at home. The potential for depression is high in such instances unless both partners work together to prevent any breakdown.
The kind of stress faced by couples with young children is different where one spouse often has to give up a career to become a full time carer, becomes financially dependent on the partner, faces a real or perceived lack of support in caring, coupled with inadequate or irregular sleep patterns. If the kid has any special need (physical or psychological), the stress and friction in the relation of the couple mounts if adequate support is not there. If the wife prefers to continue working within months of arrival of the infant (for whatever reasons) several issues like taking care of the baby, feeds, creches, ayahs, dropping and picking up the baby, safety etc can cause additional stress.
Last but not the least, most couple do go through a phase of comparison with known people, “See, she left her job to take care of the baby” “He always comes home early”, etc. One spouse comparing the partner with other people, in an already tensed environment where both partners are trying to adapt can only lead to more stress.
The solution is complex and has to consider multiple factors. Both partners definitely need to take time to be with each other…fit it into your schedules. Talk more than less to each other, keep asking about each other and how they feel, be flexible and available, and seek immediate help if the stress seems to be overwhelming. Building a social network that can absorb the stress and provide solutions will be useful. However, just arguing and blaming each other and leaving the issues without a solution can only complicate and lead to depression in the long run.
Partners have to learn to live with each other and not just live together.