Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WHY RUIN YOUR MARRIAGE FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN


CHILDREN and MARRIAGE

PARENTING PRIORITY versus MARITAL SACRIFICE

Are You Ruining Your Married Life for the Sake of Your Children
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

A few days ago I met a young couple. 

The husband had been transferred to another town but he was going alone.

His wife was not relocating with him to his new place of work, but she and their children were going to remain back in Pune. 

The reason: “their children were not ready to relocate”. 

A familiar story. 

Many married couples believe in the dictum:

“our children come first, everything else afterwards” 

(yes, even your marital life takes a backseat).

Think about it.

Children are important, but are they more important than the marriage?

Why do so many people indulge in “marital sacrifice” and sacrifice the conjugal joys of marriage for the sake of their children?

Are our priorities all mixed up?

Why do some persons ruin their marriage for the sake of their children? 

Here are some stories about misplaced marital priorities where parenting took precedence over the husband-wife conjugal relationships, where marriage was sacrificed for the sake of children. 


The Story of the GOOD MOTHER BAD WIFE

A friend said in disgust, “I am fed up of my wife,”

“Why?” I asked, “your wife is quite good.”

“Oh, yes, she is quite good,” he answered, “She is a good mother but a bad wife.”

Then, he told me his sob story.

Both his kids had settled abroad, in the USA.

And since they had got married, they kept on calling his wife over there to do “nanny” duty.

When his daughter got pregnant she summoned her mother to America to look after her during her pregnancy days and after her delivery she wanted her mother to stay on till the baby was a year and a half old.

My poor friend was left to fend for himself for nearly two years.

The same thing happened when his daughter-in-law delivered a baby.

Since the daughter-in-law’s mother could not stay for more than six months, his son emotionally blackmailed his mother to come over for “nanny” duties till his baby was old enough for day care since the daughter-in-law wanted to get back to work.

Now the same story was being repeated as his daughter was pregnant for the second time.

Once a man is married for a long time it becomes difficult for him to stay without his wife for long duration.

Yes, it is very painful for a “much married” husband (or wife) to be forced to live the life of a “married bachelor”.

“Why can’t our Indian girls be tough like American women when they go over there to America? Do they ask for their mothers to come and live with them to look after their babies?” he asked. “Our girls, they want the best of both worlds, they want to go there for the money and good life but want Indian style comforts and lifelong parenting. They don’t realize that they are ruining their parents’ married life.

Good Mother Bad Wife

or to put it a bit mildly:

most women are good wives but they are better mothers”.

Now, as I look around me, I find that this is true in most cases, at least among the middle-class families of Pune.

For most married women, the priorities are quite clear: “Children come first, Husbands afterwards

Parenting Priority takes precedence over Conjugal Relationship.

Marital Sacrifice is the order of the day – yes, most mothers are ready to sacrifice their marriages for the sake of their children.

Here is another story.

THE STORY OF A HAPPILY MARRIED COUPLE WHO “SACRIFICED” MARITAL BLISS FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN

H and W were a happily married couple with two children – a daughter and a son.

H had a transferable job and W was a homemaker.

Every two years, H would be transferred to anywhere in the length and breadth of India, and the family would pack its bags and relocate.

The children would keep changing schools.

When his daughter was in the 8th and his son in the 6th, H was posted to Pune and he put his children in the best school in town.

Two years later, when his daughter entered the 10th class (and his son began his 8th), H was transferred to a remote place in the “up-country”.

Their daughter was doing very well in her studies, her school was first-rate, and the ambitious mother did not want to shift her to some mediocre school in a moffusil town in a backward state, especially in her 10th class, at the end of which were the all-important board exams.

The husband agreed that it was much better if the daughter’s education was not disrupted at this stage and it would be much better if she gave her board exams in Pune. 

So, H left his family behind in Pune and went alone to his new place of posting and started living there as a “married bachelor”.

This proved to be a wise move.

His daughter topped the Board Exams and secured a top place in the merit list. 

She got admission to the best college in Pune.

His daughter wanted to study medicine and become a doctor.

So it was decided that during her 11th and 12th she would simultaneously prepare for various medical entrance examinations for which there were excellent coaching classes in Pune.

H wanted to put his daughter in a hostel and move with his wife and son to his place of posting in the upcountry.

But his wife refused point blank and the wife W said to her husband H:

“After comparing with the other children I have seen how our children’s studies suffered due to our frequent moves and relocation due to your transferable job. Yes, their studies are suffering due to your frequent transfers.
 
It is a very competitive world and I want to be here with my daughter to look after her and motivate her and supervise her studies for the medical entrance test which is very tough. Our daughter requires my personal attention so she can focus on her studies.
 
Besides our son is now in his 8th standard.
 
His teachers say he is a potential IIT candidate. 

I want him to complete his schooling here in Pune and not in some godforsaken place. 

I must stay here in Pune for the sake of our children’s education.
 
This frequent relocation puts our children at a great disadvantage as compared to their classmates who remain in the same school.
 
I want them to have stability.
 
I want the best for them – there are so many facilities for education here in Pune. 

If you can manage it, you try for a transfer to Pune, otherwise you keep on moving wherever they send you but I will stay with the children here in Pune.”


The wife W convinced husband H to take a loan and buy a house in Pune, which he did.

His wife even asked him to quit his job, which he did not. 

He did not quit his job because he was doing very well in his career and there was no scope for him to get a comparable job in Pune in his field of specialization. Plus, he had the home loan EMIs to pay off too.

And so, for the sake of their children, they sacrificed their married life and gave up their conjugal happiness and started a “long distance marriage” as “married bachelors”.

Both their children did brilliantly.

The daughter got into a top medical college, topped the list, was awarded a scholarship for higher studies abroad and soon was flourishing in America along with her doctor husband.

The son got into the best IIT and then was off to the USA for higher studies, got an excellent well-paying job over there, and soon he got married and he too settled down in America.

Now all this took quite a few years.

Meanwhile H took solace in drinking to get over his loneliness at those remote places and, by the time he retired, had almost become an alcoholic.

I have seen that once a man gets used to the joys of married life, it becomes difficult for him to live alone without his wife. 

He feels starved of connubial companionship.

So he either strays and seeks comfort in the arms of strangers.

Or he tries to drown his frustrations in alcohol.

H loved his wife and children. 

He did not want to jeopardize his marriage by being unfaithful and having an extra marital affair.

So he took the second option of drowning his loneliness in alcohol. 

He increasingly began to seek solace for his lonesomeness in alcohol and his drinking increased day by day and gradually his dependence on alcohol became so much that he began slipping into the abyss of alcoholism.

One day, in view of his drinking problem and increasing alcohol dependence, H was politely asked to put in his papers and go home with his pension.

His life did not improve once he retired and came back to his wife.

Like the first story of my friend I narrated in the beginning, H realized that his wife W spent long durations of time, sometimes many months, doing “nanny” duties for their daughter and son in America, as baby after baby after baby was born, to her daughter and daughter-in-law. 

She went to America quite frequently and would be away for months together, leaving H all alone in India.

Now, after retirement, with nothing to do, H felt even more lonely when his wife went away, so he started drinking even more.

He did try going abroad with his wife but found out that he was not welcome to stay for extended durations at either his daughter’s or his son’s place, especially because of his love for Bacchus as his heavy drinking had made him quite an embarrassment. 

As far as his children were concerned, their mother W was indispensable because she did the useful nanny duties, cooking and housework whereas their father H was redundant since he hung around whole day doing nothing useful and because of his drinking he was becoming quite a nuisance.
 
So the children wanted their mother W to stay but they wanted their father H to go away. 

It was a strange irony – it was his wife and children who were the root cause of his drinking problem and it was they who were rejecting him for the same thing!

So H stayed in India whereas his wife W would shuttle between India and America and, in fact, would spend more time with both her children in America.

One day, disgusted with her husband’s drinking, his wife W decided to permanently relocate to America to her son’s place.

The son and his wife were delighted – they both worked long hours, they had three small children (a girl and boy twins) and they were finding it difficult to manage the three kids.

Now they had a “nanny” as well as a full time “maid”.

In due course, the husband H drank himself to death.

A few years later, when W grew old and became quite weak and frail. 

Now she was not of much use to her son or daughter since their children had grown up. 

Besides she was becoming a liability because of her old age.

So they sent W to spend the rest of her life in a “retirement community” – an euphemism for an “old age home”.

A sad end to the story of a happily married couple who sacrificed marital bliss for the sake of their children - the forlorn dejected husband drank himself to death and the wife spent the rest of her lonely life in an old age home, abandoned by the very children for whom she had abandoned her husband and sacrificed her marriage.

MORAL OF THE STORY

Your kids do not come first. 
Your marriage comes first. 

Children are the best thing that happens in a marriage, but, sometimes, if your priorities are not right, your children can also ruin your marriage.

 
VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
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