Very interesting article and puts into perspective what we in this day and age expect from marriages and relationships in general. Reinforces my opinion that life (happiness and sorrow) is all about managing expectations. And at times there is a breaking point quite unique and specific for specific situations and people…
When going through what I considered a difficult phase in my marriage, what struck me were the differences in perception around me. My maid for example, was ‘happy’ in her marriage as her husband did not beat her, he drank and took her money and did not help at home, did not work, but she thought it was OK.
Another colleague had a difficult time as she did not have any children and lived in joint family who constantly blamed her for that (with no evidence that this was in fact her ‘fault’), she had to hand over all her salary and received a meager pocket money for her expenses. After putting up with this for many years, she finally spoke about her problems to a small group of girls in the office and was surprised when she heard our views. What really was the breaking point for her (after many years of misery) was the fact that her husband refused to share their room and she had to sleep in the living room. A kind of public acknowledgement of their failed marriage. A blessing in disguise, if you ask me. She walked out and lived by herself afraid to go home to her parents. Then came the realization that life was not so bad on her own. In fact if she could manage to look beyond the stigma (a bit exaggerated) she was even enjoying life!
A very close friend of mine lived with her husband and daughter. She was also bringing up her sisters daughter. Her sister tragically passed away while the child was barely a year old and couldn’t be left with her father ( a long story and a bit out of context here). Her husband seemed to be constantly between jobs. He forced his family (including a battery of three sisters) on her with requests from them to cook for them, clean and baby sit for them and even buy things for them.. My friend was good at her job (though not a very high ranking one). She worked hard, managed home and finances, had a home loan for a flat she was buying, managed to spend time with the kids’ studies, other extracurricular activities and also made sure they had occasional fun, a movie, a picnic, etc. Suddenly her husband fell very ill and she realized that he had AIDS! He had been infected while cheating on her during his clandestine visits to ‘God knows where’ she said and couldn’t care less about the gory details. She nursed him through his treatment and counseling. A huge cost burden apart from the emotional trauma. Luckily she and the kids were not infected. But the breaking point was his behavior. He insisted on ‘unprotected sex’ a sure way to transmit the virus!!! So finally this was the breaking point for her. A realization that this person did not really care about his child or her. A difficult to explain situation to a society who thinks she is a demon to abandon a sick spouse, the NGOs who point out not to discriminate against AIDS, her own family who cant understand much of what is happening (ignorance). But she explained everything to her kids she said as she needed them to understand what she was going through!!
One could go on as there are so many stories and experiences like these.Marriages between physically and mentally challenged people are not different than others. Expectations have to be met and managed, but there they are likely to be significantly lower. Does that make it easier may be it is!
On a lighter vein, in a work related context, I heard the word ‘expectation based management’ from a HQ colleague recently. What he means that all work processes that have been carefully mapped and agreed upon, could basically take a walk. And this was a kind of top down approach where ‘expectations’ will be set and everyone is expected to deliver!!!