Thursday, February 07, 2008

Case Study I - Can One Failed Marriage Result In Another Failure?

Nilanjan is raving mad. At himself. Eight years ago he had married Sandhya in Bangalore. The first two years were like a life in paradise. They were in the seventh heaven, wrapped in the warmth and the magic of love. It was so magical that people were even jealous of them. That however did not diminish their love; in fact it got stronger.

However, in the last three years a side of Sandhya had begun to emerge which Nilanjan was not comfortable with.

Before Nilanjan negotiated his marriage with Sandhya, he was aware that Sandhya had had a very sad past. She had been married in her early twenties but the marriage had broken and she had been brought back to her own parental home. That was not the bad part though. The devastating reality was that the six month child she had begotten in that marriage had been snatched away from her and no matter how many times she tried to get her daughter, her in-laws had prevented it. Sandhya did not go to the Court for the custody of her child. She knew she would not win the case as she was not earning enough to look after herself and her child. Her paternal family had also indirectly refused to support her with her child. Hence time passed and Sandhya never returned to her marital home. Neither was her child ever brought to her. It had been more than twenty years since this had happened. Sandhya had not got a legal divorce as well as in their times, marriages were social events without registration. And she feared that if she did get one, then she would lose her chances of ever being with her daughter.

For Nilanjan, it did not matter. He was very empathetic towards her condition. He wished that Sandhya could have met her child.

Nilanjan too had a failed marriage. In fact two failed marriages. In the first, they had been together eight years. When he broke that marriage, he was lonely and placed an ad in the matrimonial column of a well-known newspaper. Proposals poured in. He selected one and performed a simple registered marriage. However, that marriage too failed as he soon found that his new wife was pregnant with someone else’s baby. Nilanjan decided that he was never going to marry again until he met Sandhya and he fell in love with her.

But that was ten years ago. Life was honky-dory until three years ago. After much persuasion and negotiations, Sandhya was able to meet her daughter for the first time. In fact, Nilanjan had helped her a great deal in this negotiation. However, after this episode, the relationship between Nilanjan and Sandhya began to show strains as Sandhya filled her heart with her long lost daughter. Nilanjan, did not feel part of Sandhya’s life as a mother of someone else’s child. Also, the episode had happened many years before he met Sandhya.

In her relationship with her daughter, Sandhya never included Nilanjan. She did not initiate any conversation between Nilanjan and her daughter. She did not make any move towards including, Nilanjan in this relation she had with her daughter. Nilanjan soon found he began to detest her ongoing conversations about her first marital house which Sandhya was now quite full of as her relationship with her daughter grew stronger. Nilanjan was unable to cope with the aftermath of the meeting. To him it seemed like, her whole past was showing up all over again and he was forced to accommodate it in their scheme of things. He was not up to it. He wanted to leave. But he could not. Before him, stood his own two failed marriages. He could not afford a third. He was now fifty five years old. He had to make this work. But how?

Analysis

What Nilanjan is going through is insecurity due to shift of position in Sandhya’s life. From being the center of attraction in her life, he has now to vie with someone, who is an integral part of her life, her flesh and blood. Really this is not his real complaint, it is the fact that he has to bear the reports she gives him of different members of her ex-marital home. While Sandhya has not perceived that this is an irritation for him and that she need not discuss anything about her past with Nilanjan, Nilanjan feels threatened by a third failure of his marriage, should the old family come back to claim their rights over Sandhya. And although it is apparent that Sandhya is dedicated to Nilanjan, the past cannot really be written out especially that there is no legal divorce as well. Hence, complex feelings are bottled up in Nilanjan, which he has to deal with. He has not had the courage to speak to her about it and once when he did mention it, she was dismissive about it. It had not solved the matter. In fact, remaining unresolved, it ate into his relationship with her further. Hence, he wanted to move out. But he was caught in his own failures of the past and the fear of making one more failure was keeping him in this one. His mind though was gradually moving out of it. However, while she doubted Nilanjan’s indifference to her lately, Sandhya had never been able to put the finger where it hurts Nilanjan the most.

Interpretation
As the case presents itself, it is apparent, that in some way, the relationship between Nilanjan and Sandhya is undergoing many shifts and many changes. There is a cost that is being paid for these changes. While Sandhya is reclaiming her lost life with her daughter, Nilanjan feels left out in the cold. No matter what he does, he can never be part of that history. On the other hand, living with Sandhya when her past has become alive is like living in a marriage with Sandhya having an affair with somebody else. Even though it is only her daughter, she is representative of an entire history behind her and the daughter is not far from the father. Besides, Sandhya too is making no effort to include him in her new found life with her daughter. But, if Nilanjan voices dismay, it may seem that Nilanjan is really jeolous, when really he is confused and does not know how to deal with the multiple issues that plague his relationship with Sandhya now. Nilanjan does not want to be misunderstood. On the other hand, if he did not voice his concerns, then, this would lead to a build up of unexpressed emotions inside him and then lead to further tensions between them. In fact, it already had become too much and the pressure was showing in bouts of temper, which Sandhya is bitter about but unable to understand the cause of it. Nilanjan feels that in some ways their relationship is already on the rocks. But he is holding on to it, as he loves Sandhya on the one hand and he does not want this marriage to break. Even he can’t take a third failure.

Conclusion
Time to look at the relationship now. For both of them. The first thing that Nilanjan needs to do is to make his point to Sandhya. The first thing Sandhya needs to do is to listen him out. The challenge of making this relationship work is not Nilanjan’s as much as it is Sandhya’s. She must understand that although, she is building on her lost relationship with her daughter, Nilanjan is not part of this story and hence, she need not discuss neither her daughter or her ex-marital home with him, if she is keen to keep this marriage going. While Nilanjan has been supportive enough to her, he need not go any further. And if she wishes to include Nilanjan in her past, which would be unfair on him, she needs him to develop a separate and distinct relation with her daughter, so that he feels included where it matters to her the most. She cannot expect unwavering support from Nilanjan, on this matter, without any personal involvement, because no matter how meaningful to Sandhya, it is this active past in their lives and its ghost that can kill the cupid in their love story. She has some solid work to do. And if she does not wish to include Nilanjan, then she must learn to compartmentalize things.

On his part, he has to address his anger and fury. He is responsible for it because he has not been able to pursue his need to be firm about being kept out from the goings-on in her life as a mother. On the other hand, he has not shown much interest in her daughter too. When, he married Sandhya, he was aware of a past, he had no idea that once this past came alive once again, he would develop anti-feelings towards it.

In the meantime, as he has already had two failed marriages, it is only human for him to go beyond his human capacity to keep this marriage going.

But, for how long? At what cost? And to what end? Will two failed marriages also lead to a third, as if it was a pattern? What is his contribution to this state of affairs? What can he do to rectify the situation?

And most importantly, what is there for him to learn from these experiences?
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