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Concern for the parental home

I am Mita Sharma, a 32 year old housewife. I am married since 10 years, have two children and am very happy with my husband and my in-laws. Except for the occasional skirmishes, there are no problems in my life. However, I have been very worried all this while. I have found out that my worries are all related to my parents’ home. I have two brothers and one sister and there is a problem with all their lives. One of my brothers is having marital problems and my sister-in-law has left the house after filling a case of harassment. This has upset the entire house and everyone is uncertain about the future of my brother’s marriage. My sister has problems as her husband is an alcoholic and gambles a lot, thus leading to neglect of his duties as a husband. She is thinking of leaving him and coming to stay with my parents. My other brother is under the dominance of his wife. He does not communicate with anyone in that family and refuses to help anyone with their matters. Even my parents are not keeping good health because of the stress. After my father’s retirement, there are financial problems as well. I am happy in my home, but whenever I visit my parent’s house, I come back very depressed and anxious. My husband knows of all these problems only to a certain extent, and he is clueless as to why in spite of all comforts, I am a nervous wreck. This has started spoiling my relationship with my husband and he seems to be withdrawing from me. I am helpless in extending any support to my parents and my family. What should I do? Please advise.

It seems Mita, that you have not been able to cut the umbilical cord. You are very attached to your parental home. Even though they are passing through a lot of trouble, your concern for them is very much natural. At the same time, you must accept your limitations. You are not going to be able to do anything except to support them. Your depression comes from a guilt that you are unable to help them. It is probably your omnipotence that you can help them in this situation. None of their problems come from you. It is not fault that your sister’s husband is an alcoholic, or that your brother is being dominated by his wife or that your other brother is unable to satisfy his wife. If you are not a part of the problem, you obviously cannot be a part of the solution either. So you have to accept that you cannot solve their problems. Having put that aside, it is not that you should be helpless either. You can help them in a supportive role only. If you are able to accept that, you will not feel helpless. Your worry comes from the fact that they are unhappy. You have to accept that all adults are responsible for their own pleasures and pain. Your husband and your in-laws have probably worked a lot in order to build a fortress around them so that they can be protected from the contaminations of the world. Your family has failed to do that. By worrying a lot, you are weakening your own fortress and henceforth opening up the possibilities of a marred relationship with your husband and in-laws. If you are unhappy, you cannot contribute to the happiness of anyone. In this way, you are losing on both counts – neither can you help your parents and your family, nor can you be happy with your husband. The only recourse that you have is to understand that you only have a limited role to play in your family. That role is of emotional support only. Guide them if they seek any advice. However, refrain from pushing them into solution if they are not ready for it. Secondly, you may have to accept that you always cannot be in a blissful position with your family and parents. Life has to go on and it will in a manner that has pleasure as well as pain. You will have to grieve over the loss of the fantasy of the blissful relationship. You are pained that they have contributed to this pain and that you are helpless. Draw a little away from that omnipotence rescue fantasy and you will find yourself in a better state.