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Does Marriage Satisfy Our Emotional Needs?

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    When I was very young my grandmother used to say that one should take oil-bath for at least two days in a week. And those days should necessarily be Wednesdays and Saturdays. She will have something frightening for those who want to have oil-bath on other days. For instance if you have it on Sunday, you will be born a dog in your next birth. Tuesdays are only for ladies. So having oil-bath on Tuesdays will make you lose your masculinity and so on.
    Whatever may be the folklore, having oil-bath on Saturdays and Wednesdays did rejuvenate my system though my skeptical Doctor friends say that the advantage is purely psychological.
    I am now planning an exercise akin to having an oil-bath, On Wednesdays and Saturdays. Whatever oil-bath does to the body, these threads will be doing to the mind. My sincere aim is to provoke you to look deep into yourselves, your innermost wishes and desires, into your marriage and into your partners, into your children and into your in-laws. Stepping aside and looking at all these things by itself is a healthy exercise. Added to that we can listen to the views of other ILites.
    So welcome to the bathroom, where you will be taking oil-bath for your minds. Bathrooms are places we relax and sing. But these bathrooms are places we think and introspect.
    As Doctors love to say about our old traditions, the advantage you gain might only be psychological; but it is still an advantage. Moreover many of our problems are only psychological and so gaining an advantage there means that we are in the path of healing.



    Does Marriage Satisfy Our Emotinal Needs?

    Marriage is a legal contract, a deep relationship, a sincere commitment and a convenient vehicle to raise family. At least on theory it is supposed to fulfill a host of our biological, social, economical and emotional needs. I am not bothered about the first three.

    Does marriage satisfy our emotional needs?

    One suggestion to you,dear ladies, is please do not get personal. Think about your personal experiences but talk only in general terms.

    Once when I was asked to talk about marriage in a Rotary Club I challenged the members who have been married for more than 10 years. I told them that the time that they spend with their wives would be ridiculously low barring a few golden exceptions.

    As an accountant, I insisted that they maintain detailed logs of the time they spend with their wives. Spending time together does not mean that they stay in the same room. Many couples sleep in the same room, eat together and even travel together.

    But that is not spending time together. Just watch a husband and wife in a small flat in Mumbai. They will be in the same room, all right. But each will be busy in their own way. Or both of them would be absorbed in the TV. Or they may be on their mobiles talking to somebody else. People call this “living together separately.”

    You exclude all these and the figure we get will be ridiculously small that we will be wondering about the very efficacy of marriage.

    I have a friend who is a lawyer by qualification. He is married to a Bank Officer who earns well. They do not have children and they are not bothered about that. They live in the same house, all right.

    When I asked about the state of their marriage, my friend said, “We have not divorced. That’s about the best statement I can make about our marriage.”

    Recently he was to be operated for cataract. I was surprised to learn that his wife had opted to stay away and his cousin and his close friend are helping him in the hospital. I was appalled to put it mildly.

    Some time back I started a very controversial thread on male prostitutes. http://www.indusladies.com/forums/showthread.php?t=750

    The male prostitute confessed about having many women clients who did not want anything more than just holding hands or an affectionate kiss, or even a word of praise for what they have cooked. And they were willing to pay for that.

    My Psychologist friends tell me that whenever a man has an extra-marital affair it is always to have some sex on the side. But a woman, barring very few exceptions, has an affair only to fulfill her emotional needs – need for warmth, recognition, friendship etc- which she cannot get from her marriage.

    But I also know many men who visit call girls only for the sake of talking to them.

    I have seen colleagues in offices getting close and sharing everything simply because they have nobody else to share.

    Now please do not look at the marriage in its first five years. After five years how do the couples interact? Are their emotional needs satisfied by marriage? Or is there some kind of a design-flaw in the institution of marriage that it cannot fulfill our emotional needs? Or should any structural changes be done to the institution to make it perfect?

    Let us not look for straight answers. Let us not look for magic solutions. Let us think about the problem aloud. May be somebody will come up with something. Your time (to think, to talk, to reply and to listen) starts now.

    regards,
    Varalotti

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2006
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  2. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    I seem to be the first to answer you, Sridhar !

    Does marriage satisfy your emotional needs ?
    It is yes & no.

    Yes, because it is deeply ingrained in our psychology that this relationship is for keeps. So we compromise, many times unknowingly, but more often unwillingly.
    No, because disillusionment keeps on cropping up at every stage, with expectations being unfulfilled on every aspect of life.

    Yes, because there is intimacy, responsibility is shared ( to a certain extent), occasionally there is somebody to reassure you when there is a crisis.
    No because, intimacy switches over to autonomy suddenly, withdraws when domestic responsibility is overwhelming, needs reassurance that we can tide over the crisis, if any.

    Yes, when we receive attention and praise, when they are accommodating.
    No , when we are neglected, when they refuse to open up and talk.

    Yes, when they give us space and we give them the freedom they want, on specific terms.
    No, when they argue it is exclusively their right to be free and refuse to give us understanding, resulting in conflict.

    Yes, because we give and want love, compromise and support.
    No, because very often it becomes one way traffic.

    Yes, when we get understanding, caring and reassurance.
    No, because appreciation, admiration and encouragement touch an all time low, over the years.

    Yes, when he gives support at difficult times.
    No, when he points fingers at you during difficult times.

    Yes, when they love us without our ever having to ask for it.
    No, when they think they give us more than what we deserve.

    Our emotional needs can never be satisfied fully even if he or she is the best person in the eyes of the world, but it is only acceptance of the spouse for whatever he or she is, that can give us emotional satisfaction. Over the years, unknowingly, a thread of mutual dependence starts growing between the spouses - this, I say, as a much married woman !

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2006
  3. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    Marriage does not satisfy our emotional needs..

    sridhar sir,
    Marriage doesn't satisfy our emotional needs. In most of the families husbands or wives are in a hurry due to their work at office or house. They do not have the time to express their love. Even they couldn't show their love towards their kids. so children miss a loving pat or kiss...which misses the precious way to show their love towards kids.
    I liked this article very much, bcoz of the subject you have chosen and the language which is simple. Once my husband said he had sent a poem about prayers to a magazine, they rejected it telling that the language is tough and how the readers from the ordinary people can understand this?
    I think so, we read these kind of articles to understand, not to improve our vocabulary...
    so nice start wednesdays with varalotti,
    thank you,
     
  4. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    It is truth

    Truth! Thanks Chithra for sharing these wonderful facts..
     
  5. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Great Start

    Dear Sridhar,

    A nice to start to the Wednesdays thread. I feel that i am still a novice ( even though having been married for 12 years now) to comment on this topic. I think Ms C did a great job to summarize the relationship. May be marriage will not satisfy the emotional needs when one is young or in their middle age , and when both spouses are too busy either working or raising kids etc.... but definitely, in the golden years , i have seen a number of couples where both spouses provide the companionship, friendship and outlet that each other need when no one else has the time to spare them.( as is the case most often nowadays)

    Vandhana
     
  6. srinivasan_vanaja

    srinivasan_vanaja Gold IL'ite

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    Marriage is not a short-term process

    hi,

    i feel marriage is a long time process where your emotions stay only for a short time. do we mean to say a divorcee or an unmarried person never get emotions? marriage literally brings a discipline in oneself to stick to a life-time relationship, shares the joys and sorrows and gives content and happiness when understood in a right path. the only thing everybody should be careful is do not decide your marriage when your are emotionally upset or if married even, please try to overcome your emotions.

    S. Vanaja
     
  7. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A great topic.

    Dear Sridhar,

    So we have the pleasure of your columns twice a week now?! Welcome and good luck.
    You have chosen a great topic for starters. It will send us all into a lot of retrospection. I don't know if it is a good or a bad thing?!! Let the tigers sleep, why agitate them?:)) But that is exactly your intention, to wake us from our slumber!
    Chitra has given a wonderful analysis of the situation in most marriages. Yes and no. Marriage does satisfy an emotional need in every person and at the same time, it also shakes up one's emotions!! If both our hands come together, they do offer an obeisance in Namaskar, but they also can produce a loud clap of disturbance. Mind you, if two of our own hands can cause such opposite actions, imagine what two different human beings, that too, a man and a woman, can cause......a whole row of emotions. Many couples will tell you that inspite of each other's irritable behaviour, they cannot do without each other. Ofcourse, there will be many exceptions too....and the life goes on.
    At the end of the day, it feels good to come home to a partner and companion, however different he/she may be from you.

    L, Kamla
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2006
  8. purnima_2k

    purnima_2k Senior IL'ite

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    Did i miss out on anything?

    Hi Varalotti,

    i was out of town forthe last few days. How did "Saturdays with Varalotti" change to "WEdnesdays with Varalotti"??Or is it going to be (to my delight) on both days?

    Lovely article by you , as usual, and a equally wonderful reply by Mrs CV. As you have clearly demarked , i may not be eligible to make any contributions(since i am only 4 years married :)), still i am tempted to give my two pennies!!

    But yes lot of things did strike a bell for me also-- like sitting in the same room and doing diff things. My husband would be in his office calls and i would be on the internet. This mostly happens on weekdays, but frequent enough!:)

    But ultimately i feel whats important is in times of need whether you are there for each other or not. Of course , sharing sweet nothings, is deifnitely important. Sometimes even i do get bugged with my husband and ask him "Your work is your first wife! Why dont you set it aside for a while ad talk to me?" for that , he immediately closes the laptop and says " ok, dear, i am ready,enna pesalaam!". What can i answer to that question???? i sometimes wonder WHY guys and girls are made diff ?:)

    But in times of big decisions - regd our daughter, or our new house etc, we work as a great team. Also when i want to buy something a little expensive, i just cant do without him! Also when each other is unwell, we are certainly there for each other. And for important occasaions -- like birthdays, anniversaries etc he tries to come early, however busy he may be(of course even then i cannot get rid of those irritating calls which he gets even sometimes when he is in the loo!!!!! ) Of course like i mentioned earlier, weekends are a bliss.

    Ultimately , from my little experience of course!, i would like to mention that getting married is certainly a necessity,more so when the couples are to a large extent compatible!!


    Purni
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    That Was One Excellent Reply, Chitra, But We Want More!

    Nobody could have summed up the whole discussion in such wonderful words. But I would like to have this reply probably at the end to clinch all the arguments.

    Now what we want from you is your views about the topic. You would have seen the functioning of many marriages. Many young women and men would have come to your for some kind of counselling or other, for their marital problems.

    Based on those experiences we want you to tell us whether marriage is designed to fulfill our emotional needs.

    When the marriage is quite new the couple would not like to be away from each other even for a second. But after a few years when the surging harmones have been subdued, the real marriage starts. I know many couples who constantly fight with each other. And worse still is the case of couples who do not fight but do not communicate at all.

    Surprisingly whatever quality a man adores in his wife (or vice-versa) during the early years of marriage, is detested by the same man.

    Pathetic are the cases of many couples who have established a "working relationship" between themselves. This is just the minimum interference policy. My friend is a typical example. He is a wonderful provider. But once he comes home from office he will get immersed in his own work - books, Internet, friends etc.

    The husband and wife will eat together. But without speaking anything. Once when I was there with them the phone rang. The phone was for his wife. The man took the phone and called his wife just uttering the word "phone" loudly. The woman came in talked for about half an hour and then went away.

    Of course they do discuss common problems. If one spouse is ill, the other takes him/her to the doctor, gets medicines and attends on him/her. But no word that is not absolutey necessary is spoken.

    It was just the life of two efficient, sincere colleagues living together. No one has breached the marriage vow. They are faithful to each other. But a dry faith without any trace of love is, to me, worthless.

    This raises even more basic doubts. Can, a human being given his enormous intelligence and vast emotional capabilities, have his emotional needs satisfied by the same person, for a major part of his/her life?

    If we decide that marriage does not satisfy the emotional needs, either we should change the design of the institution, or allow some other relationship on the side, which satisfies those needs. But those things are lethal and might shake the very foundation of marriage.

    To bear everything, to swallow everything and to live for the sake of children, might be a noble sacrifice, but not good living.

    Chitra, as a senior member of versatile abilities, I want you to contribute on all these issues.
    I will reserve your Yes and No dialogue for concluding this session.
    regards,
    varalotti
     
  10. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    You asked for more, Sridhar !

    I thank you profusely, for asking me to write again, Sridhar !

    Does marriage satisfy emotional needs ? There is no “yes” or “no” that can be a correct (true?) answer. I am not going to talk about the first five years of marriage. Generally speaking, the fate of a marriage is decided by that period. As you wrote, the surging harmones would have subdued and the couple would have settled down to reality. I do not plan to analyse the exceptional cases which you have talked about. I wish to write about a normal marriage, where the spouses do want to live together in harmony, to the extent possible !

    Besides acceptance of the spouse with all merits and drawbacks, unconditional love is the main foundation for a marriage to last. Neither should be a fair-weather spouse. This makes one feel wanted, whether the other expresses in words or actions or not.
    There is no denying that men and women differ in all areas of life, including our language, by which, I mean expressions. Our psychology as well, is different. This interaction plays a vital part in satisfying our emotional needs !

    Well, what do we mean by emotional needs? We expect our partners to behave or react in a particular way (perhaps the way we want them), to show their love. We are very often intolerant and unreasonable when their reactions are different. They (men) tend to give less importance to relationships, unlike us, women, because their goal and achievements are more important to them. But the golden rule is, we “love” to be appreciated whereas men “need” to be appreciated !

    Men always think, they have to be very successful in big things, to be loved by the wife. But once we realise that they crave for our love and admiration, we can slowly “de-addict” them from the success orientation, by appreciating their small gestures. Built-up resentment in us, should not be allowed to get the better of us, when all a man needs is a motivation to do more. We can restore the balance by supporting him with love.

    Man, very often, wants or waits to be asked for help. We resent, without asking, because we want him to do it instinctively. It happens rarely. So, asking him very gracefully, to do more and help you, does boost his ego and serves our purpose also. The more a woman opens up and shares her feelings with him in a respectful way, very often he too does open up and share his hurt and pain. The bond between them strengthens.

    The biggest challenge, a woman faces, is when he is not talking. A woman wants an interested listener in a man, when she is talking or asking for advice. He hardly responds and she imagines the worst. Man is generally not an instinctive talker like a woman. Very often, unlike a woman, a man needs to think over before giving a reply and very often does not reply at all. It is likely that he needs time to think over to offer a practical solution to the problem. As John Gray puts it, “men go into their caves”, regularly. This he does, when he is upset or stressed as well. It is better to wait, till he comes out of his own self-introspection, because all that he wants is his space, at the same time, silent acceptance. It is best not to offer him advice, since all we need to give him is trust and not empathy. Unsolicited advice is never appreciated by a man and there is no way, but to pamper his ego some times. Well, this we do for our own benefit!

    Argument is very often destructive, since gradually, love dies. At the same time by suppressing the true feelings , we lose our loving feelings also. So we have to learn to strike a balance with good communication skills, whereby we avoid arguments, but at the same time do not suppress our negative thoughts. We hurt more by our words than by our disagreements. Words leave a deep scar and very often do irrepairable damage to his ego.

    Sridhar, you have asked “If we decide that marriage does not satisfy the emotional needs, either we should change the design of the institution, or allow some other relationship on the side, which satisfies those needs. But those things are lethal and might shake the very foundation of marriage”. It is a definite, no, no, no from me. It is hard work on the part of both spouses, but is worth it, definitely. Life is always a cycle and there is darkness before the dawn. We must gift ourselves and our spouses the gift of understanding. Let us be realistic; just like we make mistakes, let us give them also permission for making mistakes ! Let us accept we are not angels to live with. Let us give eachother unconditional love, companionship and understanding.
    I repeat again - Our emotional needs can never be satisfied fully even if he or she is the best person in the eyes of the world, but it is only acceptance of the spouse for whatever he or she is, that can give us emotional satisfaction. Over the years, unknowingly, a thread of mutual dependence starts growing between the spouses and cements their relationship.

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     

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