Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Get professional help to manage marital stress'

'Get professional help to manage marital stress'

Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010, 8:51 IST
By Soumita Majumdar

Is it quite natural to have violent thoughts against one’s spouse? Dr MJ Thomas, consultant psychiatrist and coordinator, department of psychiatry, Sagar Hospitals spoke to DNA about the rising instances of domestic violence and even murder of spouses, after the recent killing of a schoolteacher by her husband in the city.

Is it natural to have violent thoughts against one’s spouse? And are there ways in which these can be curtailed?
Yes, some people do get violent thoughts about their spouses, just as they get similar thoughts about anyone else. This kind of violence is contemplated when there are marital differences, and both partners think they are in the right. Violence could also be contemplated when one partner feels insecure or suspicious and questions the partner’s fidelity. In either case, if this feeling is prolonged and consistent, the couple should seek professional help.

Are there signs to look out for, so that people in marriages could seek help at the appropriate time?
If either of the partners becomes consistently depressed or aggressive and feels that he or she cannot tolerate the partner anymore, then it is about time that the couple seeks professional help. Also, sometimes, if an outsider tells them that they need help, it means that their quarrel has become too obvious. In such cases the couple should seek help from marriage counsellors. If there are problems like dowry harassment or something like that that is rather grave, the couple should seek the help of the extended family. If there is baseless suspicion or extreme stubbornness, which harms the relationship, there is need to meet a psychiatrist.

Police commissioner Shankar Bidari has urged people to walk out of bad marriages rather than commit murder. Do you think divorce is now an acceptable solution for a bad marriage? About 60% of ‘bad’ marriages can be saved if professional help is taken on time. Those who cannot live together despite counselling sessions should live in separation or get divorced as an alternative. Divorce or separation as a concept is much more acceptable in today’s society.

How could the family help, in such situations? Do you think it might be better for them to remain uninvolved?
An extended family should always be supportive. However, most marriages break down as the conflict between the couple develops into a family quarrel. Family members should be careful and not take sides. The problem might only get worse.
The extended family, could, however, guide the couple to professional help so that the problem is treated at the right time, before it aggravates. Often, that is the best possible support that other family members can offer to a couple going through tension and strife in marriage.


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