It is hard to fathom for people that a married woman can feel, unwanted, unloved and undesired. But the fact that women are not expect to feel this way, only makes it more difficult for them to speak up. Yes, loneliness exists, even in marriages, even in homes full of people who love you, even when you have every minute, every second of your day planned out with one chore or the other. At the end of the day when your head hits the pillow, it grows on you, often making you wonder, ‘do I not deserve to be loved’? Us women are conditioned to internalise the blame for anything that goes wrong, even if it affects our own wellbeing, and that needs to change.
Quoting results from a study, a 2013 report published in Psychology Today said that among older adults, 62.5 percent of people who reported being lonely were married and living with their partner. Lack of compatibility, different priorities, and conforming to stereotypical gender roles are some of the reason why one can lose the “connect” they shared with their partner. As a result of which we not only grow apart but fail to make each other feel desired and loved.
For women in our society, this means suffering in silence. We are not expected to wash our dirty linen in public. Keeps your marital discord under wraps. Even when a woman does open up about feeling lonely, or dissatisfied in her married life, she is told to count her blessings. It could be worse, he could be violent, he could have drinking issues, he could be seeing someone else.
If fact, women are expected to justify this need for companionship. Blame it on stereotyping of a “good” marriage as the one replete with materialistic fulfilment, children, and affluence, and the allure of happiness that it creates. So when a woman from a well-to-do family, with a husband who is so much as kind to her, treats her well, says that she feels lonely, she earns criticism and questions, and not sympathy. Why are you feeling dissatisfied with your marriage? He is so nice to you, you have such a nice house, you have a happy family. You have a job, you have so many friends? It is as if the society expects us to fulfil certain criterions if we dare to feel unsatisfied.
Being shoved into silence and to endure this sense of dissatisfaction on their own could be having grievous consequences for women. For instance, according to the 2018 National Crime Record Bureau report, housewives accounted for 17.1 percent of all the deaths by suicide in the country, second only to daily wage labourers.
In a year when we have moved beyond the boundaries of comfort, when it comes to the discourse on mental health, perhaps it is time for us to also discuss yet another taboo topic in our society – the pandemic of unhappy marriages that we have been pretending to ignore. And mind you, neither women, nor men deserve to suffer the psychological consequences of an unfulfilling marriage.
But to address this issue, we first need to accept that there is something wrong within one’s marriage and that it is not okay. Women especially, need to stop telling themselves that perhaps this is what they deserve, or that despite being in misery they are doing much better than most. Every woman deserves to be loved, to be cherished and she should stop telling herself otherwise. Instead it is time for her to put her foot down and demand what she rightfully deserves.
The views expressed are the author's own.