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Agony Aunt helps you to deal with relationship problems

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Clash of lifestyles

I moved from a small town to Mumbai to complete my graduation and masters and now I’m working with a corporate. Over a period of time, my manner of dressing, hair do, the way I speak, interact and respond has changed and gotten polished and modernised in tune with the city as compared to my small-town upbringing. This causes my parents and family members stress and in turn the stress plays out on me. I go home every few weeks for a weekend and find it hard to switch between the way they want me to be and the way I am comfortably. E.g., my mother was very upset when I cut my hair shorter than the long hair that I had when I first moved here. She continues to give me grief on this, despite me telling her that my shoulder length hair is just more convenient to manage and handle in Mumbai…and this is just the tip of the ice berg. I am unable to hear the constant comments from the family.

Ans: The idea of change is hard to accept as it brings about unsettling feelings of ‘what if’ the change isn’t something which is pleasant. Your parents are probably going through a similar phase where they might harbour a feeling of losing their child to the ‘modern’ world entirely. Accepting change happens gradually for so many of us and allowing time to do its work is essential. You also need to somewhere adopt the idea that the changes you are bringing about in your life are the ones you are comfortable with. this comfort will help you be assertive about your decisions, for instance haircut, and not bring out a defensive side. being defensive about your choices would lead to arguments thus creating a difference amongst each other.


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Lack of intimacy

My husband and I have been married for about 12 years. However, despite ours being a love marriage, where we had to challenge all odds to get married, we have grown apart in these twelve years. The relationship has become predictable and almost platonic. Both of us know what works for each other and what does not and there are virtually no conflicts. Our lives run on remote control and maintenance and auto-pilot mode. Both of us work and have demanding jobs and the weekends are spent catching up on errands and sleep. In addition, while we do socialise, its more out of compulsion and obligation. It’s been over six months that we have not had sex. We had also mutually decided to not have children. I am in between jobs and was able to take stock of the situation as a result of the time out. I’m dumbstruck at the status of my relationship and do not know what to do. I’m questioning what is this life that I am currently leading.

Ans: The existential questions that are arising at present warrants for some serious thinking not only on your part but also on your husband’s. Involve your husband and discuss the status of your relationship with him for you to understand where does he stand. If you have been feeling that the marriage has lost its charm and love is barely seen, raise this issue and discuss about the possibilities of whether there is willingness towards working things out, figure out what could possibly be leading to the current distance and if it can be fixed. At times relationships might require a re-work and re-investment so as to keep up with the subtle changes that have taken place over a period of time.

Harrowing inner guilt

My wife passed away a year ago after a yearlong battle with cancer. I have a 6-year-old son who I am bringing up with the help of my parents who have moved in to live with me after my wife passed away. I love my son tremendously and he is the centre of my life. He too is very close to me. He seems to be coping well after his mother’s passing on account of the love of his grandparents and me. I loved my wife very much and thought that I could never be with anyone else after she passed away. I was on a business trip that I had a one-night stand on the spur of the moment, impulsively and circumstantially. It was the first time that I had sex after my wife’s passing. I know that I needed it physically and it seemed like a huge release…however the guilt that is accompanying this post having sex is killing me. I am wondering how could I have given in and had sex with someone other than my wife especially after her passing. Thoughts like “have I gotten over her?” are bothering me tremendously. I have been feeling like a fish out of water. While this lady would like to continue this interaction at a casual level, my guilt is suffocating me.

Ans: I am sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a loved one leaves a void and often in a state where one is left to question, ‘what’s the appropriate time frame to mourn?’ ‘or if I start doing so and so would it raise questions?’ Your guilt might also be stemming from the unsurely that revolves around ‘appropriate time’ to mourn for your wife, i.e. is it too soon? however, the answer would always lie within as others can’t be the judge of such intimate feelings. By giving into your physical needs if the direct correlation is drawn with the sense of betrayal you felt, then few considerations need to be made. Establishing a new relationship would not lead to replacing the old one or filling up the void for that matter. It simply means making space for something new. In case you don’t wish to be in a causal relationship, you can express so to the lady but at the same time understand the difference between honouring someone’s memory and holding yourself back and giving yourself a chance at being happy in a different capacity without drawing parallels with what’s lost.

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Falling for wrong person

My sister’s husband has been a father figure to me ever since my father passed away 10 years ago. I was 15 when my father passed away. He has been the most loving, caring and sensitive male figure who has taken care of our family. Recently, when a marriage proposal came forth for me and he brought it up with me, I felt tremendously hurt and cried my heart out that I did not want to get married. Neither he, nor my family could understand my reaction. I for myself too could not understand my own reaction. That night when I lay thinking about why was I feeling hurt and why did I cry so bitterly when he brought up my marriage and the proposal, I realised that I had fallen in love with my brother-in-law…I don’t know what to do…

Ans: Transference seems to be a very strongly reflected feeling in your case here. It might have started with projecting the feelings you have had towards your father on to your brother-in-law from the age of 15 and now transitioned into romantic feelings most likely due to his personality traits. It is important to understand that whether the attraction is towards his personality traits of being reliable, responsible and sensitive or towards the individual as a whole. Your feelings towards him might cause a disrupt in the entire family and thus working towards understanding the best way to deal with this situation is imperative. The issue of transference lies deeper and needs to be dealt with the help of therapy. Seek help of a psychologist who can work with you in dealing with conflicting feelings in a way where there is minimum possible damage.