#GirlTalk is SheThePeople's advice column. Have a question? Send it to us email@example.com - It can be anonymous if you'd like it that way. Women from different walks of life share advice and their personal experience to help you overcome your own. Today's question is answered by Kenashree.
Dear Girl Talk
I’m married and I have a 4-year-old son. My husband and I have major compatibility issues. I’ve been dragging this relationship along for five years now and I see no improvement in him. I’ve lost hope and he’s asked me to do whatever I want – separation or divorce, he has no concerns at all. I’ve involved my family too but my parents don’t support me. I want to leave and start from scratch alone. Is that going to be harsh on my son?
- Mom, Woman, Wife
Dear Mom,Woman, Wife
Marriage lies on the foundation of understanding and compatibility. The beauty is in the underlying friendship that takes over marital status when it comes to moving ahead together in life. And just like sometimes friends may need to halt, mull over the meaningfulness of relationship and take a break if there is a need, couples also need to revisit the purpose of them sticking to each other. It is not unusual.
If there is no joy, comfort or camaraderie that sparks happiness, it is time to take charge. To lead instead of drag! If you ask me, it is heartening to know that you not just clearly see the complexity of situation that you are in but you also know your heart. Not everyone has such clarity of thought and intention.
You somewhere know that moving ahead alone is what you want and will liberate you to live happily ahead. The fact that you have given five years of your precious time to improve this relationship and have even sought support of your parents is itself an indication that you have done all what you could to give it a second chance. How beautiful that you want to start afresh, alone and make it work. You are almost there!
The worry, however, that remains is - “will it be harsh” on your son?
Yes, it will be. For a four year old, living without one or both of the parents will be tough.
Will it be for long? Frankly, no, it should not be. We tend to underestimate children’s immense ability to dextrously adapt to new life, situation and surroundings. Keen learners that they are, they often patch up their broken glass cups with gold, turning it into Kintsugi (the golden repair), far beautifully than we can imagine. It is us, the concerned mortals, who get drowned into guilt and often take them along.
The bigger worry should be - “will staying in an unhappy and ‘drag’ relationship be harsh on you?
Sadly, yes, there are chances that it could be far harsher on you than on your son if you do not let this go. Dragging relationships tend to kill the spark of life, knot by knot, sometimes taking to a phase of no return. Trying too hard on oneself may become a tipping point before one even realizes. Besides, why must you tumult yourself to that point when you can rework your life right now.
It may sound difficult but you will have to let go of the motherly guilt. It is tough, it is ingrained, it takes a strong heart but it is doable.
Let me give you an example. As a behavioural trainer on ‘gender’, one of the exercises that we have been doing with our batches is to hand over to them paper cut outs of birds and animals, and ask them to segregate into two categories – one that they can identify closely with women and the other with men. Over tens of sessions and mixed batches conducted in last few years which range from students to senior industry leaders, the answers have been more or less similar.
For women, the picks mostly are - dove, tortoise, butterfly, cow, goat, dog, and alike– those signifying care-giving, kind-hearted, beauty and domestication with exceptional motherly instincts.
For men, the picks mostly are - lion, elephant, snake, eagle, leopard, and alike – signifying strong physical build up, ferocity, assertion, go-getting attitude and wildness difficult to be tamed or contained.
No matter how much progressive we may claim ourselves to be, the demarcation of gender stereotypes has been clearly etched in the mind of humans over years, without us being aware of it.
As a young girl, in my growing up years, I became aware of how girls were being trained to behave in a way that projected them as nice, tender, kind, caring and all of those softer adjectives put together. The idea put me off. Not that being known as nice and kinder hurt but that being thought of as softer when it came to matters that required making tough decisions certainly did.
Why at all was this demarcation required? Why could we not see each others as humans first and ‘genders’ later, with a similar set of expectation and responsibility for both? Why could not someone be tender and assertive as the same time? And why loving one-self over family on priority be considered an act of selfishness when it is a survivor’s basic instinct, just as much for a man as it is for a woman?
I refused to conform, and did it pretty loudly, growing up to learn to love myself first and take charge of my own happiness. I still know I am often dismissed off as a self-centric individual but then, is this not the story of my life that I am entitled to write on my own terms? I like to keep the pen in my hand and it has worked for me.
Between having to live in self-inflicted pain with a son and having to live in a short-term guilt without him, the former has more chances to rebuild the family up again, though in different timelines and roads taken. It is worth taking a chance. It is worth the love you deserve. It is worth to rediscover and reclaim a lost territory.
Why must you not try?