Reader Questions – Divorce, Doctors, Movie night and A walk in the park

The following are some questions posed by a reader and my answers

A girl is in a relationship, her husband has been good to her. But she has started to feel she has grown apart and wants a divorce although her husband loves her- you support this.

Let’s say a married woman starts to like another man and she wants to legally end the current marriage with a divorce, although her husband loves her – in a marriage, it has become one sided love from husband – And she wants a divorce.

Why have they grown apart?  What do you mean by “being good”? Traditionally a husband was said to be  “good” and “loving”  if he could provide the wife with food, clothing and a place to sleep. There was no expectation towards the husband to meet  or fulfill a wife’s emotional, intellectual or physical needs and desires. Men just took what they needed without even asking for it. Also, many times each spouse may grow and evolve very differently in a marriage, so sometimes instead of  growing together they grow apart. This is not uncommon.  Marriage when done right can be the most fulfilling, satisfying and fun filled experience of one’s life. But when its not working can be the most lonely and excruciating  journey ever.

As long as there is no physical, mental, emotional abuse or threat of violence and if this particular woman wants to, then the couple can try to work on their marriage by getting some counselling and trying to make the relationship work. If the woman is unwilling to further, work on the marriage then its best for the husband to let her go and try to find happiness elsewhere.

Again,  from your second scenario,  the woman has made her decision. Although this situation is sad, there is no point in holding on to someone who doesn’t want to be with you.  My one suggestion would be to end the marriage first and then find another guy, ( unless it was the husband’s abuse which drove her into the arms of another man and even then it still better to end the current relationship first ). I am not very familiar with the divorce laws in India, in the USA although some states require you to submit a reason for the divorce like infidelity or abuse, many of them are called ” no fault states” meaning that no matter what the internal dynamics, if one spouse wants out of the marriage then he/she should be able to get out. There is no way to stall or “not give” your spouse a divorce.

The husband does not like his wife visiting a male gynaecologist – what will you say?

It’s okay if he doesn’t like it, as long as he does not stop her from getting the necessary medical services.

A husband is not fine with his wife going out with her male friend often, and he certainly does not like it when she spends nights in his home watching movies – don’t you think he is well within his rights?

This is a relationship problem and not a social issue, there is no law that prevents a woman from having friends of the opposite sex. You did not mention if she goes alone to this male friend’s house, takes her husband along, whether this male friend has a girlfriend/wife/partner or even if a group of friends get together for a weekend movie night.  As you have said it yourself, she is only watching movies, from what I see her only crime would be to maybe neglect her share of household chores if she spends too much time this activity.

A husband sees his wife walking hand in hand with a male friend of hers in a park and his wife does not like him bringing the topic up- what would you expect him to do, as a feminist?

What was this husband doing in the park? Was he following her, or was he there already when his wife arrived with the male friend? Also, was this husband alone or did he have some kind of company, cause if he did then I see how the wife would not want him to bring up her mistakes or infractions.

Hope this helps.

P.S I realize that some of the things I’ve proposed are not very common in India like marriage counselling. So I’d appreciate if readers can offer me other perspectives.

What to do when when a wife forges ahead…Reply to comments part 2

This post is a response to the following comments

She is well within her rights to ask for a divorce now, as she is now higher up, and you have the inferiority complex.
In case of that, step aside as a graceful man from her life and let her marry a man of her status.
Do not stand in the way of a modern woman.

Those of us who are married are all well within our rights to ask for a divorce whether we are better than our spouses in any way or not. So unless this woman was in a toxic relationship before the promotion and looking/ waiting for some way or opportunity to get out of it, I don’t see the need for a divorce in this case.

Also I don’t think that the man has an inferiority complex, a little insecurity, yes, but inferiority, no.  With most of us having been indoctrinated from a very young age about specific gender roles and duties that women and men have, I think its only natural for someone to feel conflicted and confused when faced with a situation like this. Remember he did not say that he has asked his wife to refuse the offer, he said that she did not tell him her decision to accept or refuse, which shows that she is free to make her own decisions. But its nice that he is attempting to find a way to work through this, which is a good start.

What to do when when a wife forges ahead…Reply to comments part 1

This post is a response to the following comments

Hey, how about the disciplinary action part?
If he felt you were harsh on him, and said that at home, how would you handle that?

I am not too sure, what you exactly mean by ‘disciplinary action”. Is it asking the employee to be at work on time, to spend less time checking his phone /internet while at work, reduce the time spent on idle chatting during working hours, to be polite to customers and co-workers.  Or is it censuring against stealing from the company, harassing / threatening the safety  co-workers, chronic negligence in performing the duties that one is hired and paid for.

If its the former, then I have already answered your question in my previous post, the wife needs to do this and do it impartially and fairly and without guilt and with confidence. She needs to enforce her authority at work and the husband needs to respect that. If the husband feels that the wife was harsh with him, he should approach her either formally at work, like he would any other boss or even casually at home if he feels comfortable doing it this way ( this is just because he ends up spending a lot more time with the boss outside of work).

Also, it is the duty of any good boss or manager to get the point across without insulting, demeaning or personally attacking the employee..

On the other hand, if the employee/ husband is in trouble for threatening or harming  the health and safety of the company, its employees or clients then this wife has a much bigger problem than just having to take disciplinary action against her man. This is if her husband is actually guilty of the said infractions.  She needs to take a long hard look at the relationship first in this case. As a woman myself I would not recommend staying with someone like that without getting help both for the person  who made the mistake and finding ways to make your relationship work after that.

If you knew the tonight that you’d be taking a disciplinary action tomorrow, (and let’s spice it up here, he is in a romantic mood tonight), would you let him know or hint?

Again, if you had to fire your husband for repeatedly trying to warm the buns of his coworkers with his hands, for stealing from the company or even threatening the safety of employees, having a romantic time would be the last thing  at least on my mind.  That being said the minor day to day happenings should not matter at all, once both parties understand their roles, rules and boundaries.  Also,  when at home its nice to remove the boss, worker badges and just be a loving couple.

If there was a meeting about his performance with other managers and he is anxious to know what went on, and asks….. how would you react, especially if his performance is not very good?

This has also been answered. He should not ask, she should not volunteer any information that needs to be kept confidential for the time being. The key is to learn the difference between keeping things on the job in confidence and keeping secrets from your spouse. These are two different things.

And you have to promote a person – your husband and another person are the candidates – both equally qualified in every aspect and performing equally – equally deserving of promotion, but you can promote only one – who would you promote?

Many times promotion is not making one person in charge of another, but rather giving them an increase in responsibility or money or even a better title. Two people can be promoted at the same time. Promotions are not done by one person, usually there is multiple levels of OK’s needed to promote someone. Also, no two persons are exactly, equal in every aspect so an ideal situation would be to see which person’s strengths benefit the company and promote that person. This would be the right thing to do.


What to do when a wife forges ahead

Hello everyone,

Again this post is a reply/ comment to this email from a husband who was unsure on the effect of wife’s promotion on their relationship at and outside of work. I am going to answer this question in three parts legal implications, relationship at work, relationship at home.

Legal

I have a few questions for you, How big is your company? Most of the companies these days, at least here in the US require you to disclose if you have a close relative working for the company. Did you/your wife disclose this information? You did not mention if you both worked in the same department earlier, if you were working in different departments earlier and she became your boss as a result of the promotion, then its her duty to inform the management ( not because she is a woman, but because she holds the higher post now)  about having a close relative report to her and either find another department to head or have you report to another manager.

This will solve a lot of problems

  • Although your wife will still rank higher than you on the company’s corporate ladder, you and her will not have to deal with each other day in and day out.
  • The good work you do will be judged purely your ability to do it and not due to the fact that you sleep with the boss every night.
  • Will reduce gossip and claims of favoritism by the other members of the team, many people still doubt this, but if people don’t get along when working towards a common goal the end product suffers.
  • It will save you / your company  a lot of money in lawyer’s fees and time if the other employees in your team decide to sue for sexual harassment ( sexual harassment is  not just physical, it’s inclusive of something called as ” hostile work environment”  simply put it means that the a coworker/boss/company intentionally makes it difficult  or impossible for a person to do their job).
  • Apart from the criminal complications you might also be at risk of being sued in civil court.
  • Will help you in the future by not being a bad mark on your employment history.

Implications on your relationship at work

You did not mention anything about your wife’s qualifications or job experience or even how well she did while at your company, during this past year. I also realise that sometimes people who work in departments that create products and services which make money for the company do get better rewards than those departments which cost money. Sometimes excellent workers get laid off, just because their department was no longer deemed necessary and some not so hardworking people ride the train to success on the backs of other successful people. Now I’m not implying thats the case with your wife,but it is to make you feel better knowing that these things happen fairly regularly. And, it could even be the case that your wife is was at the right place at the right time.

I agree  when you say that the dynamics of your relationship will change with you and your wife going from co-workers to boss and subordinate. Let us say that your wife was truly deserving of the promotion she got and, the only way to avoid, you not reporting to her will  be to deny her the promotion she so deserves, then both of you need to learn how to navigate this new relationship.

Even before your wife accepts the promotion, both of you need to have a chat about how your relationship is going to be at work. You have to realize that earlier just being two co-workers you could share information or even inside jokes. But,  going forward your wife might not be able to share everything about her work with you,  even if she wants to.   No, you cannot ask her what happened during meetings, the decisions she makes etc, as it would make it difficult for her to do her job and she might even resent you for it.  You need to know that in some jobs maintaining confidentiality is of utmost importance,  and it is also an ethical and legal requirement. It does not mean she does not love you or care for you.  Its just a new  job requirement for her.

I think you should address your wife just like how you used to address her before she became your boss, but you should respect the position.  She is the boss, she may/ will have the final say sometimes. You have to respect that.  If you undermine her authority, so will the other team members. You have a choice here, to make things awkward for you, her and other team members or to appear confident and comfortable in your wife’s success and actually may be even proud of her. If it makes you feel any better, just as the saying goes that there is a woman behind every successful man, maybe its your love for your wife motivated her to do her best work. Maybe she did not want to fail you.

Changes on the home front

Your wife should definitely discuss her job offer and how she intends to proceed, with you. Although the final decision is hers to make, she should take your input, feelings and the way your relationship will change  into consideration. This is not because she is a woman and she needs your permission, but because you both are a  two person team working towards the goal of a happy, healthy and harmonious household, any decision that effects both of you should be made jointly. The same rule applies to you too.

Finally, you also need to keep the following in mind, that although women have made great strides in the past few decades , the average woman worker earns less than her male counterpart for the same job, takes more time off due to childbirth illness etc, gets fewer promotions and has to struggle or work twice as hard to achieve what the male can, even easily sometimes. Often times when a man refuses a promotion stating his family as the reason, he is seen as caring and people feel pity for him. He is seen as a martyr. But if a woman refuses a promotion or is unwilling to say travel often for her job, stating her family as a reason, then she is seen as unprofessional and at times it could even be the death knell for future promotions and career advancement.

Please discuss this with your wife, given the way the majority of desi women are raised, she is probably more conflicted and confused and does not know how to approach you. You mentioned that you loved your wife dearly, so don’t let this become a road block to your relationship.  All relationships change over time, sometimes we notice the change and other times we don’t. Make your relationship stronger by becoming more confident  yourself and letting your spouse shine.

What to do when culture holds you back from happiness

This is a reply/ comment that I posted to a question posed by a woman here, who felt torn between her culture/family and her happiness.

First of all congratulations on finding a partner who is kind, affectionate, treats First of all congratulations on finding a partner, who treats you as an equal, is making you happy, respects you and above all values you.

Now for your parents / society. Did you ever tell your parents the true story of what went on in your marriage before your divorce? If you did, what did your parents do? Did they intervene/ try to help you in some way or did they come up with the it’s your fate / destiny or he will eventually change dialogue.

If you did not tell your parents, then you have to come clean now and tell them about the time in hell that you had with your ex. This is not because you are required to tell your parents everything, but because you feel that their approval is necessary. Its going to be a slow road, but i’m sure that if they really love you, even if they disapprove on the outside they will be secretly happy that their daughter found happiness.

Society, culture and traditions’ real purpose was to create order out of chaos and to help people live a harmonious life. Culture wasn’t supposed to be stagnant, culture is supposed to evolve and accommodate. Having lived in the US for close to a decade I can tell you that there are aspects of both cultures that are same, nosy MILs, abusive husbands, dependent parents, tiffs with family and siblings, etc. The only difference is that here I feel people give themselves permission to be happy and find happiness more easily. Which is what you should do too.  Also, you are not the first person in the so called society to divorce or marry out if caste/culture/ religion etc. Its been done before and will be done more often in the future.

If your new guy (i’m not even going to call him american guy) is all what you have said then he’s probably smart enough to know that you are still conflicted and he still is with you which also makes him extremely patient. Which is also a good quality in a partner.

Do not even think of marriage yet, try to be happy in your relationship first. Make a two column list write down things about your ex and your boyfriend and compare, read it whenever you feel a longing for your former life. Find a good therapist, go alone first and sort out your feelings, then go with him. Do a workshop for inter racial or intercultural couples, start a blog ( there are many blogs written by women who aren’t desi married to Indian/paki/bangladeshi guys).

Lastly, while its certainly possible to go through life without a partner, a loving, supportive and caring partner enhances that experience a hundred fold. So GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to BE HAPPY. Hope this helps.