The Art of Maintaining Emotional Wellness in Relationships

The art of maintaining emotional wellness in my relationships

Life seems blessed and sorted when you have your family by your side. The relationships we hold by blood and after marriage are our biggest support system, our constant sources of love. But situations arise where our interactions with family members lead to misunderstanding, resentment, conflict, and mental agony. People who were so close to us ended up behaving like strangers, bringing distressful situations in life. I will share something I experienced closely in life that hampered my emotional well-being and how I survived to bring wellness into my life through 2 stories.

Story 1: Monika and Raj – Emotional wellness with New Relations for acceptance

Monika and Raj, meet each other through a common friend. They realized that they had a future ahead together as a couple. Life appears like a fairytale when you fall in love for the first time. Despite being practical in life, Monika was not aware when she started weaving the dreams of a happily ever after life with the man in her life. She remained in a dreamy state during her courtship days. Monika failed to smell the emotional complexity of the new relations she was supposed to embrace while entering a new family. Neither Raj nor Monika predicted the emotional roller coaster ride waiting for them.

From the start of courtship to settling in life, it was 5 long years. During this time, Raj and Monika both experienced a lot. Both witnessed the changing faces of the people so dear to them. Few relations started showing the dark side and made Monika feel that choosing a partner of choice is a crime. A moment arrived, when Raj and Monika, mutually decided to give a pause to their relationship. Well, it was not a breakup or separation. It was just a pause to cope with the emotional trauma they faced and to come out stronger to take things in their confidence.

They never wanted to go against their families to settle in life. Monika never expected things to be so bad, breaking her from within. Both of them got devasted mentally. The reasons not to agree to the marriage were hilariously stupid. Although both are Bengalees, their ancestral origins were from different parts of Bengal. 

Women from the eastern part of the undivided Bengal, now Bangladesh, were considered bold, independent, and more courageous to take up challenges.  

The women of Western Bengal, now West Bengal, were considered protective, typical homemakers with no urge to be independent and working ladies. They never faced such situations where they needed to step out to support their family financially. The story remained completely different for the women of East Bengal because of the historic partition. Unfortunately, Monika’s great-grandparents and parents experienced the bitter taste of this partition. 

On the other hand, Raj’s parents were from western Bengal and held the typical mindset that daughters-in-law should do all the household and stay dominated by the male members of the family. 

Women empowerment, supportive wives, and women’s say in the family were something that Monika witnessed in her family. She saw her parents consulting each other before making any major decisions in life. Even her grandfather was so modern in his time. The choice of food, cooking style, likes and dislikes, way of observing life, and many other things remained different in both families. Monika’s mother was a working lady, and all her parental aunts were working too. She never saw other than her maternal aunts as housewives. Even today, she finds it hard to accept the concept of housewives. 

A few years passed, and Monika was now working with a leading Private bank, and Raj was working with a startup Technology firm. Monika’s parents were now pressuring her to get married as they felt it was high time to settle and wished to look for the ideal groom for her. In these years, Raj and Monika stayed connected without letting anyone know. But now a decision needs to be taken as both want to start their family as a couple and earn enough to manage their expenses. Raj disclosed for the second time about their relationship with family and faced the wildest mental torture. He was threatened by his father. His father said that he would not get a share of parental property and would get rusticated from his family for a lifetime. Raj’s parents said, that he would be declared as “Tajjo Putra”, of the family. They thought it would be enough to stop Raj from marrying Monika.

When Monika shared her willingness only to marry Raj, her father, who was not against the relationship, took a U-turn. It happened all because of the behavior of Raj’s parents. Monika’s father was scared. He was scared of what would happen to his daughter if she got married to that boy.

None of the families were ready now to make the relationship official. They misunderstood that the couple would finally go for a breakup. But, this time, Monika and Raj came well-prepared to make the marriage happen. 

After hearing from both families, they sit face-to-face with their respective families. Raj, asked a few questions to his father and so did Monika to her father.

1. What happiness will you get seeing me unhappy with a girl /boy of your choice as my wife/husband? 

2. What makes you believe I will be happy if married to a boy/girl of your choice?

3. What will happen if I go against you and marry the girl/boy of my choice? What will you lose or gain?

4. What If I refuse to marry anyone in life? Will that make you happy?

5. Give me reasons to avoid marrying the girl/boy of my choice.

6. What’s wrong with marrying a working girl who can support me emotionally and financially? (Raj)

7. I witnessed you (Dad) several times having verbal fights with Mom since childhood. You had an arranged marriage, so why this conflict with Mom? (Raj)

8. If I move out and marry him/her, will that not affect each one of our emotional and social well-being?

The questions appeared to be difficult for both families to answer. They realized that separating them would lead to emotional breakdown for both families and affect the wellness of the young couples. The families understood nothing could stop Raj and Monika from getting married, and it was better to accept the relationship for peace and harmony in life. Finally, the wedding happened in the presence of two families, friends and relatives.

The characters Raj and Monika are very close to me. I also experienced the emotional traumas that they underwent in my love life. 

Before marriage, I also used to get annoyed with my married friend’s discussions. They used to discuss their discord with in-laws, especially Mother-in-law. For me, it appeared silly to even give importance to such things in life. Today, when I look back, I regret and understand that my thought process on married life was incorrect. 

How do we manage to establish emotional wellness with both families to become one? It was through the investment of time and communication, just the way Raj and Monika did for their relationship.

Communication is the key to success- We all know that. Quality conversations are a must to strengthen any relationship. For that, we need an investment of time. Me and my husband gave our relationship the time to become sure of how confident we are of each other as partners. We invested time to make acceptance easy for both families about the relationship. The conversation with parents, with the inclusion of logic and reality, helped us manage our emotional wellness in the relationships in our lives. Several personal stories of the past came into the limelight which made Raj’s parents think, that Monika would not be the right choice for the family. Things turned out better with a healthy conversation. After marriage, we also ensure that we invest time in talking about and learning about each other and our families.

Story 2- Samarpita and Sandipan – Managing emotional wellness with Mother-In-Law

Before marriage, Samarpita got posted in Kolkata, and Sandipan was working with a Delhi-based IT firm. Monika stayed back with his in-laws in Kolkata before applying for her official transfer to Delhi to settle down with her husband. She was aware of it before marriage, but Samarpita’s Mother-In-law was unhappy with the decision. She wanted her son to look for a job in Kolkata and stay with them, along with his wife.

Career prospects were better for both Samarpita and Sandipan in Delhi. Sandipan decided to settle permanently in Delhi. After spending 2 months with the in-laws, Samarpita got transferred to Delhi. It was not taken well by Sandipan’s mom. She said the plan was all set by Samarpita to stay separately from them with her husband. 

That was just the beginning of the trauma in Samarpita’s life. If she fails to call her mom-in-law any day, the drama starts over the phone instantly. These gradually started exhausting Samarpita. She was born and brought up in a family where she witnessed balance in work and family life. Calling their parents every day to narrate their daily routine is something that Samarpita finds boring activity. A weekly call at weekends to chat with family is what she loves doing. But her MIL expected that Samarpita needed to mold her as per the expectations of the in-law’s family culture. Samarpita tried her best to cope with the demands, although she remained aware that things were not right on track.

During vacations, when both Sandipan and Samarpita visited their in-laws, the situations used to turn worse. Every time MIL attempted to make Samarpita realize that her luck was good, and she got a husband like her son. Expectations took a new height when she was asked not to be a part of family discussions and to follow what everyone said. Life turned a roller coaster ride for Samarpita, and even while visiting her parents, she used to get taunts over the phone for some reason or other. Her MIL used to dominate her and make her feel that she knew only the best about her son, and her son would do anything first for her and then for Samarpita.

Being an educated working girl, such activities and painful words started emotionally affecting her badly, but her only solace was her husband Sandipan. Sandipan tried all possible things, to establish peace and harmony between this Saas–Bahu duo. He was also not aware of this side of his mother’s character. Sandipan asked her mom several times about the issues she was facing with Samarpita. He also wished to know about her behavior towards Samarpita. But all he could hear was that Samarpita was a proudy and overambitious girl, with no respect for elders, a misfit for the family, and even responsible for the conflict between mother and son.

Sandipan’s father was watching all the melodrama happening in the family but preferred to stay aloof as he was well aware of the nature of Samarpita’s MIL. The emotional trauma affected Samarpita so badly that she started losing her temper on MIL and even faced depression. Once she shared her concern about MIL with her colleague Ritu, and she advised her to check her MIL’s relationship with her MIL.

After researching Sandipan’s grandmother’s background and after talking to Sandipan, she learned that his mother had a dominating MIL and that domination continued by his father. His father’s words used to be the last in the family. Sandipan’s mother never had the privilege to have something of her own choice, and her only solace was her kids. Her life centered around her kids, and after Sandipan’s sister’s marriage, he is the only person as her sole asset.

Samarpita understood that making an effort to change the behavior of her MIL was next to impossible for her, and it was affecting her emotions and well-being badly. Many times, she turned rude to Sandipan just because of the behavior of her MIL, but she also understood that she loved him madly. She was not ready to spoil her relationship with her husband because of MIL. Her analysis of her relationship with her MIL gave her the following findings:

1. Relationship issues in the life of my MIL were instigating her to create the same issues in his son’s and daughter-in-law’s life. A sense of jealousy was working at the back of her mind witnessing Samarpita’s happy life.

2. She wants to be the controlling lady in his son’s life like before, and she feels like losing importance by getting replaced by another woman, Samarpita.

3. Dislike towards Samarpita because she was her son’s choice and not her. She had many dreams about the perfect wife of his son that never matched Samarpita’s character and social status.

4. Despite being educated, she never got the chance or showed interest in pursuing a career of her choice and lacked the privilege and identity of a working woman that Samarpita is enjoying.

5. Resistant to the change in the family that is happening after Samarpita entered into the family.

6. Missing the importance, she used to get from her son after Samarpita entered into her son’s life.

7. In front of outsiders and relatives, she showers love on Samarpita. She praised her immensely in front of others to showcase a lovely bond with her son’s wife. Behind the curtain, her abusive words remain the same for Samarpita in an attempt to manipulate her son.

Samarpita and Sandipan remained friends for years before tying the knot. She thought to share her findings with her husband before taking any decision. Thankfully, her strong bond with her husband helped her overcome the mental agony to welcome emotional wellness in life. 

The lady behind the name Samarpita is none other than me. Yes, it’s my story of survival and how I welcomed emotional wellness in my relationship with my MIL. I welcome emotional wellness in my life, but how? Again its investment of time, analyzing root cause of problem and peaceful discussion.

A. I started ignoring the comments of my MIL and stopped giving her the chance to take things further by maligning my character. 

B. Whenever she questions any of my decisions in life, I calmly answer that I consulted her son before executing anything, even though I take my calls in life individually. That gave her the feeling that his son was aware of my activities.

C. Whenever I buy anything for her, I say it’s our joint choice for her. She feels good and valued in our lives. Although she knows the choices are mine, there is no harm in making her happy with such a simple gesture from my side.

D. I always mention that I am thankful to her for bringing up a gentleman like him to be my husband.

E. I don’t interfere in their family 3 people (FIL, MIL, and husband) discussion as I know where I stand and have my world with my husband with individual identity.

F. I cleared to her that my in-law’s place is her world, and I have no interest in interfering in her space. While I expect the same space and independence in my world with my husband.

H. I assured her that if she needed my help and presence, I would try my best to be with her (Subject to availability).

I. My self-respect is equally important as hers. We should talk minimally and avoid unwanted conflicts with each other to maintain peace and harmony in the relationship. I generally avoid her as much as possible for my mental peace.

J. I cleared that all expectations of her cannot be fulfilled by me. I have my preferences and limitations. Whatever is feasible with mutual discussion will be fulfilled by me.

K. We are two people with different perspectives in life. We should respect each other as individuals without being competitive. 

L. I respect her as the mother of my husband. I also clarified that I expect the same respect from her being the wife of his son. 

M. The most important thing, that I told her was that we both love the same man but in different ways. It’s our responsibility to ensure a harmonious atmosphere by maintaining wellness in our relationship.

Having an overbearing MIL proved to be challenging for me for several reasons. However, with my spouse’s support, I managed to maintain harmony while smartly interacting with her. Keeping in mind her painful past with her in-laws, I overlooked her criticisms with compassion. It helped to ensure that her presence in my life was not detrimental to me, and my overall family’s mental health.

 I understood so far that maintaining emotional wellness is in our hands. One needs to remain vocal about the needs and expectations and value the same for other relations in life. Identifying the trigger points that are hampering your wellness is vital. Once you identify the triggers then working on it turns easy to bring wellness, peace, and harmony in your life and the relationships you hold. Emotional wellness is not a one-day journey but a ritual to practice by heart. 

‘This post is a part of Truly Yours Holistic Emotions Blog Hop by Rakhi Jayashankar and Roma Gupta Sinha