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Get your relationships ‘organised’

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Get your relationships ‘organised’

The battle for your time is constant — your job demands your attention, as do your spouse and children. And you have to juggle all three.
Here are a few small changes you can adopt to make your relationships more meaningful and to make more time in your life:
· Relationships: Coping with the past

A marriage is a new beginning. Yet, very often, the glow of this new relationship is marred by the grime of the past.
You need to make a conscious effort to move away from the past to ensure a healthy present and future.
· Do you invest in your marriage?
Past relationships
At times, you may find yourself unable to let go of a past relationship despite being in a new one. Sometimes, it may be your partner who faces this problem. Then, there are cases where the family and society has a problem with a person’s history.
Take the case of Archana, 28, who is based in Mumbai and owns a travel agency. She is happy in her new relationship and is to be married soon. Yet, she finds herself unable to let go of what she felt for her ex-boyfriend.
She says, “I decided to go on with the marriage even though I have not gotten over my last relationship. I know one has to move on. And the sooner one does it, the better.”
Archana is right, to a point. However, if she wants to begin her marriage on a strong note, she has to understand that her relationship with her ex-boyfriend is over and she has to get over her feelings for him.
Moving on is not a problem that only you could face; your partner could face it as well.
Richa Mishra, a 26-year-old teacher in Bilaspur, recently married her boyfriend of one year. Her husband, who is also from Bilaspur, finds it difficult to deal with the fact that Richa, a city-bred girl, has had other men in her life.
Richa says, “It’s not that he doesn’t trust me, but my past niggles him. However, it is not an issue we speak about.”
This is a cardinal mistake couples make. Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Rahul Ghadge says, “If something is bothering one of the partners, it should be discussed rather than wished away. By talking, other related issues come to light and problems can be resolved or become simpler.”
· Romance in the age of BPOs
Family skeletons
Nigaah, a Mumbai-based 32-year-old mother of two, still has to hear comments about her sister’s divorce a few years ago. Her in-laws do not approve of being associated with someone from such a ‘tarnished’ family.
Her husband does not protect or defend her from these comments. His silence, coupled with Nigaah’s own inability to assert herself, is beginning to affect their relationship.
In this case, Nigaah, who is obviously not responsible for her family’s actions, needs some concern and compassion from her husband. Both of them also need to, politely but firmly, tell her in-laws that they cannot continue to harrass Nigaah.
· Plagued by loneliness?
Financial history
A past debt or financial commitment, discovered by your spouse, can cause problems.
Mumbai-based CA Manish Lapsiwala, 38, says, “You must look for signs of financial mismanagement in your partner before you get married. You can do this during conversations as well as by making inquiries about his/ her family. Unpaid personal loans and credit card debts indicate your partner is not handling money well.
“If such a situation arises after marriage because of lack of prior information, you need to keep a few things in mind.
“If it is a one-time mistake, it is best for the couple to deal with it together. After taking stock of their income and savings, they need to figure out a ratio in which both will contribute and pay off the loan/ debt.
But if such financial misbehaviour threatens to be repetitive, then the other partner has to take a firm stand. Financial irresponsibility affects a couple’s lifestyle, the future of their children and their retirement plans.”
Legally, a spouse can refuse to pay off/ help pay off other person’s debt. However, sharing financial burdens, even if they are mistakes of the past, go a long way in building solidarity and trust in a relationship.
Manish says, “Dealing with financial problems in a marriage is more spousal responsibility than financial responsibility. If the problem is dealt with maturely and responsibly, it can strengthen the foundation for a good future together.”
· Survival guide: From heartbreak to happiness
Scars of the past
At times, the effect of an event on a person is more harmful than the event itself. A betrayed relationship may lead to mistrust of the opposite sex. Experiences with an authoritarian father lead to rebellion against authority. Even having an abusive role-model (for example, if your parents constantly fought with each other or were abusive with each other) leads to adjustment problems.
Dr Ghadge says, “To get over the past, you need to be frank with yourself. You need to learn to act on and not react to problems.”
Transactional Analysis, a psychology concept, calls it touching base with one’s ‘adult’ side. This means you use a mature approach to assertively tackle a problem, instead of passively suffering the side-effects or taking out your frustration on your near and dear ones.
Get to the root cause of what’s disturbing you or your partner and solve that problem. If it is a financial debt, make arrangements to pay it off; if it is emotional obstacles, help your partner to overcome them.

1. Insist on family time
“When both partners work, and children are kept in a creche, family time gets limited to about an hour or so a day,” says Raghini Rathod, 28, an IT manager in Bangalore.
“We have decided not to crib about the fact that I spend less time at home. We have also agreed not to switch on the television till the kids go to sleep; otherwise, we end up spending most of our free time before it,” adds the young mother of Raghva, 3, and Rohini, 5. “When the television is switched off, we tend to talk to one another and spend constructive time together.”
2. Get your relationships ‘organised’
Have a planner or subscribe to a website that sends reminders for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Record all the dates there.
When it comes to wishing someone on their birthday, be innovative. Innstead of an email, send a greeting card by slow mail. Buy blank greeting cards in bulk at the beginning of the year; this way you can write what you want in the card before sending it. It’s also quite easy these days to send flowers, chocolates or gifts to your loved ones.
Says Mihir Mahajani, a graphic designer based in Pune, “Your friends and family are your investments, you never know when you will need them.”
Networking sites are a boon for keeping in touch with people. Even the occasional hi, hello or good wishes helps maintain the bond.
· Would you lie while dating online?
3. Parents and in-laws
We are so involved in our own lives that we tend to sideline our parents and in-laws. Make sure you visit them at least once a fortnight if you live in the same city. If not, call them up regularly and tell them what’s happening in your life.
Help them bond with your children by visiting them often or having them over at your place. You may not find them the best people to have around, but they have made you and your husband what you are today.
Don’t forget their birthdays and anniversaries; make sure you wish them during festivals.
4. Communicate
Talk about your worst feelings — even if they are caused by your spouse, partner, in-laws, friends or relatives. Have an open relationship. “If you can’t talk about them, write a diary, but make sure you get the feelings out of your system,” says family counsellor and homeopath, Dr Reena Dhaware.
“No relationship blossoms without effective communication. Bottled emotions create stress, which not only causes health problems but also emotional fatigue. Use mobile phones, the Internet and other modes of communication to enhance your communication.”
· 10 important parenting resolutions
5. Highs and lows
“Keep your emotions under control, but don’t fake them,” advises Dr Dhaware. “In case you are emotionally upset, tell your family you need some time out and get your emotions under control.”
Every relationship has its high and lows, so be prepared. Try to understand the sentiments of people you care about.
6. Surprise element

Small gestures of surprise, a gift, a message or a phone call can do wonders for a relationship.
Madhavi Deb, 28, a homemaker based in Hyderabad, recalls, “I had this tiff with my mom-in-law on the eve of her birthday. To make it up, I cooked her favourite pulav the next day morning and bought her a small gift. She really appreciated the gesture. Though the pulav was ‘not so great’, she was touched by my efforts to enter the kitchen, which I am most averse to.”
· Do you get enough sleep?
7. Say ‘NO’
Many of us have a common complaint. “We take ourselves for granted,” says Meena Kumari, 35, homemaker. “I have decided to drop the goody image. I no longer want to say yes to every member of the family and then struggle to live up to their expectations. I’ve decided I am going to say ‘no’ whenever I cannot easily manage a task. I’m even going to say ‘no’ if I don’t want to do something. Hopefully, this will make life a little less stressful.”
8. ‘Me’ time
Consider it sacrosanct — it does wonders to your personality. Be it watching the daily news, a soap on television, meditating or reading, dedicate at least half an hour to ‘your’ activity.
Likewise, don’t interfere in others’ personal time; even children want that space. Give space to others if you want space for yourself!
9. Agree to disagree
“For me, this is the most important mantra — be it in-laws, parents or friends,” says Anuradha Chitnis, a technical writer with an IT company in Pune.
“Over the years, I have realised that if you respect their opinion, they will respect yours. You don’t have to agree. This makes life so much easier; the best way to reach a golden median is to agree to disagree.”
11. Remember, you’re the ‘parent’
Twenty-nine-year-old Madhu Narang remembers that, in an effort to be friendly with the kids, there came a stage when the kids thought she was one of them.
“Being friends to the kids is all right, but parents also have to be parents. You cannot compromise on that. The responsibility of effective discipline and behaviour lies essentially with you.” The child will have many friends but only one set of parents. Having an open but firm relationship with kids, right from an early age, is important.
Incorporating even some of these tips in your life should make much more pleasant, and much less stressful

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

Posted in Short stories

Tagged with , , ,

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