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The Affair and Dealing with Conflict

Sharon and Wilson Mazarello’s Konkani movie “Tum Kitem Kortolo Aslo?” is a frank, revealing and true to life story about how long distance relationships tend to crumble. In the movie, the husband who is working abroad is always too busy to communicate with his wife. When he is on leave he is delivering parcels and meeting up with friends, relatives and while he is at work it is always the wrong time for him to receive phone calls from his lonely wife. He takes his wife for granted. The wife is hungry for love, affection and attention and a romantic relationship and turns to none other than the same person whom the husband had entrusted her to. This is quite often what is happening in the lives of some women whose husbands are employed overseas, which is very unfortunate.

Over the years I have seen marriages break up due to lack of communication, sexual difficulties in marriage, finance, taking each other for granted. I am talking about it because in our attempts at reconciliation of estranged couples we have come across such cases. The factors that contribute to the break-up of family life are about an over busy life. There are fathers who when their children want them to be there for them are too busy or engrossed in meeting deadlines at work.

What I have observed is that young men arrive from abroad and marry in haste – a woman chosen by their parents or their own choice as they are due back to their jobs abroad. These women are fascinated by the glamour of everything foreign, and do not consider the fact that they have a long wait till the next reunion for their emotional and other needs.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but unfortunately it appears that it makes it wander. This happens because of a yawning communication gap and misunderstanding and due to the fact that coping skills, constant positive interaction and telephone love is absent. The bonding has not yet taken place or the reasons for entering into the relationship were all the wrong ones. In a live-in/love /marital relationship the golden rule is love, giving loads of patience. Negative communication is best dealt with face to face and not over the telephone to the long distance partner. People enter into marriage without even the basic preparation. Marriage preparations are as compulsory and as necessary as driving lessons. Parents as well as the local church preparations for marriage have to address the subject of conversation in a marriage.

In one such case a husband who entrusted the care of his wife to one individual returned on a holiday home to find that the wife had left him dangling his bonnet and plume while she flew the nest with the friend. Her fidelity had shifted to the one person who had been constantly available to her. In the words of David Moutrup author of “Husbands, Wives and Lovers”, infidelity is “a relationship between a person and someone other than (their) spouse (or love) that has an impact on the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall dynamic balance in the marriage”. All of us have sexual desires but they cannot be acted on if we are in a live-in or marital relationship with another if the partner is absent. Most infidelity is both emotional and physical. The attachment is the result of the absence of the partner and the close proximity of another. A new trend is Internet and chat room infidelity which leads to storms in a relationship when discovered by the committed partner. A commitment expects fidelity exclusively to the committed partner.  When there is a breach f this expectation or cheating, it is infidelity. Infidelity causes pain and suffering to the other partner. Personal freedom has no place in a committed relationship.

If these long distance marriages are to be salvaged then marriage preparation is a must. Both the partners concerned have to understand that communication and appreciation are powerful ingredients in a marriage, if absent can lead to an affair. Expectations lead to conflict. In a conflict shake the unshakeable belief that you are right and the conflict will get resolved. In communication, be a good listener. Forgiveness is liberating and faith heals.

Relationship counseling can help, by bringing the partners in joint sessions for therapy in conflict resolution.

If all else fails make the divorce a painless one. Alienation of affection permits the jilted partner to sue his/ her ex-partner for compensation.

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