A friend of mine called me yesterday. I haven’t heard from her for several years. She got married, I got married. Each of us got children, and our new lives separated us. After the usual greetings and babbling, I felt that something was wrong. Her voice didn’t sound as cheerful as it used to be. After insisting on knowing what was wrong, she confided that her husband was cheating on her. I was stunned and speechless as I didn’t know how to console someone in that situation. Usually, I played the motherly role of giving advice in difficult situations. However, this was new and kind of shocking to me. She discovered it a few weeks ago by pure accident. She faced him and he didn’t deny! He promised that he wouldn’t repeat it, claiming that he was feeling terribly guilty. Whether he’s going to keep his promise or not, my friend was not so sure.
I asked my friend about what had led to this disaster and whether it was partly her fault. At first, she told me a long story about how painful it was. She felt stabbed and humiliated. Forcefully and reluctantly, she decided she should not ask for divorce for the sake of her children. After long fights and discussions, a new page was opened. Nevertheless, she felt that she could not forgive nor forget that easily. Therefore, fights kept erupting out of nowhere and the subject was being re-opened again and again, leading to a more complicated situation. When pressuring her, she admitted that it was not entirely his fault.
After getting married, she devoted her entire life to pleasing her husband; take care of the household and later on of her children. Her household was running around the clock. She often tried to create changes at home by adding a new vase, re-locating the tables and accessories. Whether or not her husband noticed the great effort, this was a different issue. Her constant shouting and fighting with the kids marked her home. This was in addition to her nearly daily fights with her husband. After some time, she started noticing how her husband’s disinterest in what she was telling him. The conversations started becoming shallow. Her lengthy talks about the problems with the maids and the driver bored him. On the other hand, this was her life, the center of her life, things that she should share with him. However he, her beloved husband, did not fulfill his role as an understanding and caring listener. Unfortunately, she didn’t put a proper sleeping and feeding system for her children. Therefore, they stayed up late and accordingly, she was tired all the time trying to attend to their needs. She isolated herself from everything and everyone. Her entire life solely revolved around her husband and her children.
At a first glance, I felt how infidel and unappreciative he was. However, on a second thought I sensed how she had put herself in this situation. I am not justifying his terrible deed, but I can understand why the gap between them got wider and wider. Besides having to take care of her outer appearance, my friend forgot herself and her own life. She got alienated from her friends. It was not done on purpose, but just gradually as a result of her being busy with her children, household and husband. She did not go out except with her husband and usually went only to family gatherings. Going out with her husband without taking the kids was pushed down to the bottom of priorities’ list. Going out alone, just to have fun, was not part of her list at all. Playing sports, listening to music, reading or nurturing any of her hobbies that used to provide her with a sense of achievement and fulfillment were totally neglected. Her major problem was that she did not maintain a life of her own.
The more she forgot all about herself and concentrated solely on her house and family, the more she unconsciously became unhappy. And the more she became unhappy, the more she depended on her husband to wave away her depression with high expectations. When he did not meet up to her expectations, problems happened. As a man, who comes home tired from work, expecting a quiet and welcoming atmosphere at home, to find a tired, angry, constantly complaining and shouting wife, this couldn’t be accommodating. He doesn’t care for the stories about the maids and the children. It is true that a couple should share everything including the daily routine problems. However, what counts is when and how to talk about them. Having nothing to talk about except those issues is not the most interesting thing either. Maintaining a sleeping and eating schedule for the children helps a mum organize her day and her priorities. This way, she can better plan her day-to-day activities and not be exhausted all the time. She can also have some time to rest and spend more time with her husband. Moreover, an unhappy mum cannot transmit happiness to her children and husband, since nobody can ever give what one does not have!
There are several ways to maintain your own personal space and have a life of your own. Friends play a big role here. Going out with school friends, even if it is just on a monthly basis, gives fulfillment, as you usually become yourself with friends, even if you do not air out the intimate problems you are going through. Even going out alone can make a great difference. Treating yourself to a good pedicure or going to the hairdresser can give you a lot of satisfaction. Spending an extra 10 minutes to choose what you are going to wear or put on some make up would always make you feel self-confident and happy about your image. It would also have a positive impact on your relationship with your husband. Reading, listening to music or going to a concert or an exhibition provides you with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. The same goes for working. If it is not possible to work full-time because of the young children, then you can try working part time or as a freelancer if you want to. Thus, you can feel that you are doing something for yourself.
If you have a life of your own, then you would not always be miserable, feeling as if you are a victim. Furthermore, this personal life would open the door for new types of conversations with your husband away from the day-to-day routine problems. It would also make you depend less on your husband to make you happy thus it’s your inner content that would reflect happiness on your family.