Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Are Children Destroying Your Marriage

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 an example.

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 said: “After comparing with the other children I have seen how our children’s studies suffered due to frequent relocations. 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. Besides our son is now in his 8th. 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 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 moving wherever they send you and we will stay here in Pune.”

The wife W convinced 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, 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, and did not want to jeopardize his marriage by being unfaithful and having an affair, so he took the second option of drowning his loneliness in alcohol. He continued this life for many years till he began slipping into the abyss of alcoholism and, one day, in view of his 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 story of my friend I narrated in the beginning, his wife W spent long durations doing “nanny” duties for her daughter and son in America, as one baby after another was born.

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.

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!

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) who they found it difficult to manage.

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 she was not of much use to her son or daughter since their children had grown up, they sent W to spend the rest of her life in a “retirement community” – an euphemism for an “old age home”.


Your kids do not come first. Your marriage comes first. Kids are the best thing that happens in a marriage, but, sometimes, if your priorities are not right, your kids can also ruin your marriage.

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. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU 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. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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T F Carthick said...

Interesting analysis. But it is a matter of perspective. Some men can take it in their stride and can look to once again pursue the bachelor pleasures while the wife busies herself with the kids.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Very good idea - to pursue bachelor pleasures once again - provided you have the "inclination" to do so...!!!

Sunbyanyname said...

I agree that to find a right balance between marital and familial needs is difficult. Love's demands are to be considered together with that of children. All in all a thought-provoking piece

Anonymous said...

Sorry, can't agree on some points. People are driven to drink by loved ones, when they were party to the decision themselves? He did something amazing by 'not' having an affair? Were they parents by choice, jointly?! Did they make choices that were tough and then found difficult to live with? More the later, in my opinion.

Do agree that parents need to stop taking care of kids or kids' kids after they have grown up. Can't understand this mom/MIL every 6 months babysitting deal.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Thanks sunbyanyname - you are right - one has to find the right balance in relationships

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Anonymous
About the drinking and affair bit, yes, as you say, it is matter of personal choice, but then circumstances do play a part.
Unfortunately, some mothers don't know when to "let go" of their children - so they continue lifelong parenting and neglect their husbands in the process