Someone has rightly said — A great relationship doesn’t happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building love until the end. But what if a third wheel in the relationship becomes the turning point in ruining the relationship?
What is a third wheel? Third wheel is the third person that influences the base of the relationship.
A recent story had a pregnant woman talk about how her mother-in-law caused her son to divorce her pregnant wife since she was pregnant with a daughter. The whole situation reeked of manipulation, misogyny and the son being the weaker link in the relationship.
KNOW THE REASONS
Priyanka Bakhru, a Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapist, integrated Clinical Therapist and Counsellor from Mumbai, reveals, “In the context of family members, a third wheel would be defined as such only by one partner i.e. the one with no pre-existing relationship with the third wheel. For the other, it is clearly a relationship that has deep importance and influence. Psychologically, there would be two kinds of influences, one more harmful and insidious than the other. The lesser of the two is the time-money third wheeling. The truly debilitating kind of third wheeling, the kind that could destroy a relationship, is the importance-rivalry third wheeling.”
She feels a couple needs some time to be by themselves and develop a rhythm. It is along with building their unit and merging their personalities. "The intrusion of opinions, judgements, time demands, criticism and emotional blackmail creates guilt and pressure on one partner and resentment and anger on the other. This kind of dynamic is deeply dysfunctional and objectifies the other partner into a superfluous, powerless addition to an all-important family.”
Rahul Dilip Jagtap, a psychotherapist/ counsellor and sports counsellor at Ruby hall Hinjewadi, Pune, feels the third wheel impacts both sides. "Complaints will start between each other about not giving time. The person will complain about being ignored and not given time in the relationship because of the third person. Insecurity will increase in the partner, over expectations from the partner and if the partner doesn't complete the expectations then irritation, possessiveness sets in and the partners start fighting with each other, because of the third person.” All of this happens in any relationship because there is a complete lack of understanding and miscommunication among all the parties involved.
DEALING WITH THIRD WHEEL
Trust in each other and respect can help keep interference away and save the relationship. After all, relationships are all about teamwork. “They need to change the priorities in their relationship. Both have to understand each other by showing maturity this is the solution. Positive attitude should be there. Both have equal needs and should balance the relationship with respect for each other,” says Jagtap.
Dr Jamati feels communication, boundaries and assertiveness are requirements to handle third wheels. "The couple should set boundaries with family members or friends. It’s also important to be assertive in enforcing these boundaries and standing up for the relationship. This can involve limiting contact with the third party if necessary or seeking professional help, such as couples counselling.”
Priyanka feels a sibling or close friend as the third wheel is easier to deal with since the influence is lesser. With parents, one needs to tread carefully. "Keep it emotionally neutral and free of drama. If your feelings are driven more by a desire for us-time, it might be worthwhile to consider becoming close to them yourself. Position your need for autonomy as a couple more as something you want out of love for your partner. It will take away the element of guilt from your partner’s anxiety.”
Dr Jamati wants the couple to be honest and open regarding their needs, fears and expectations. "Couples should work together to identify potential challenges that may arise and develop strategies for dealing with them. This can include discussing how they will handle family conflicts, setting financial goals together, and finding ways to prioritize their relationship amidst other responsibilities.”
"Priority should be given to the relationship while balancing other relations like family and friends because man is a social animal. We do need our personal and social relationships to work,” concludes Jagtap.