For weeks she noticed mood swings and aloofness in her husband. Work stress, she thought, and let him be. He was on the phone more than before including at dinner or family time. Social media detox might do him good, she thought, and let him be.
And then one day, he called his wife: “Is it okay if I come home late tonight?” She asked: “Is it personal or professional?” The response: “Tonight it is something else and tomorrow it is work.” Shocked, and almost intuitively, she asked: “Are you seeing someone?”
“May be”, he replied and then hung up. For hours she tried to call him, message him as tears built up. Her happy married life of almost eight years crashed before her eyes. Nothing seemed to make sense – their child, barely three years old, and she herself, a dependent in overseas with Indian citizenship. What would she do?
Extra marital affairs are among the biggest triggers to divorce and relationship breakdowns. What I’ve shared above are reflective of real-life experiences of people I have known. In some cases, these affairs carry on, discreetly.
In many, they are found out or they own up themselves. Either way, relationships outside of marriage aren’t uncommon today. In the current uncertain times, where stress levels are high with worries of job security, financial loss and then already shaken trust and friendship in relationships, there is bound to be a surge in breakdowns in relationships, including marriages.
Cheating in marriages is caused by an inherent sense of unhappiness, incompleteness and often just an attraction of the adventure outside. No matter what the situation, there is nothing that cannot be understood, discussed and resolved. Whether it is ending the marriage/relationship or re-building trust.
As outstation working and frequent travelling paused, couples are now able to spend more time together. Preeti and Rahul are glad that they get to spend more time together and with their four-year old. Previously, early mornings and long days was straining their marriage. Anger, irritability, tiredness meant they weren’t able to focus on or spend time with their growing child. The pandemic lockdown came as a blessing in disguise.
Time spent in commutes, almost three-four hours each day, can now be allocated to themselves resting and quality time with their child. What is more, they are now pregnant with their second one.
Another friend of mine who previously had little communication with his parents was stuck with them during the lockdown and is now only too glad that this happened. Of course, there are challenges on both ends with re-adjustment and expectations but overall he’s pleased that they weren’t stranded away from him so he could look after them.
Coming back to marriages – they are hard work. Pandemic or not, there will always be a reason for couples to stress and worry about.
No two days, no two couples are similar. If it isn’t job security or financial stress, it could be family related or just unhappiness within. We all evolve, we outgrow our own selves with time and circumstances. The trick is in regularly being in touch with your own self and with each other – communication is key.
I am reminded of a story of two girls who were arch enemies and then on a school trip were forced to live together and survive. At the end of this enforced living together experience, the two became friends and each other’s saviours.
Perhaps this too could be true?
Lakshmi Kaul is the London-based UK Head & Representative at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and an active Indian diaspora campaigner. In this regular Talking Point column for ‘iGlobal’, she will focus on issues that deserve spotlighting within the Global Indian community, referencing her personal experiences.