Coping with a toxic relationship

I see many of my friends, fast approaching middle age, who are clutching onto a marriage that has been dead and buried for some time. There could be several reasons for this, including the fear of a backlash from the in-laws and one’s own family members too. Being a collective society, in India couples don’t just part ways with their life partner, but in the process also have to lose a substantial portion family, friends and societal respect too. And not everyone has the strength to go through such a loss. It is interesting to observe the coping strategies that individuals come up with when caught in the jaws of a toxic relationship. One ‘strategy’ is pure denial. I know of one lady who refuses to admit there is anything wrong in her marriage and is blind to the chasm that has developed between her and her husband. Someone else I know copes by hurling himself headlong into his work, almost 24 x 7, which means he ends up having to spend very little time with the wife that he does not really want to be with. Others turn to hedonism, and secretly have several affairs, so as to “compensate” themselves for having to go through a life of personal misery. The most effective strategy came from one of my maids, who has used time management as an instrument against a violent husband. She managed to gain employment as a cleaning lady in houses at the exact time her husband was at home, that is, in the mornings and evenings. And when he goes off to work in the daytime, she rushes back home to look after the kids. She tells me the beatings have subsided largely because they are hardly together under the same roof, and also because of the fact that she now has her own income too. So rather than indulging in any form of escapism, she took the bull by the horns and came up with a workable solution to coping with a toxic relationship!

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