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Personality Differences

I am Saurin Pandya, a 31-year-old assistant administrative manager in a pharmaceutical company. I am very soft spoken, quiet and shy. My wife Nandita, 30 years old, a journalist in a leading newspaper, is very outgoing, cheerful and smart. Many have wondered about how we have made a good match. I was bowled over by her confidence and her way of handling people while she was impressed by my down-to-earth approach. After 4 months of courtship, we got married with a “little hesitation” from both sides. Nandita comes from a very affluent family. Her parents have a high status in the society, and being the only daughter, she was pampered a lot. On the other hand, my family is a trifle distant in expression of emotions.

Maybe I fell for Nandita primarily as I was hungry for expressive love. After marriage, she was stunned by the cold responses of my family and habituated to the pampering, she felt totally out of place. After a few quarrels, she suggested that we move out. As my salary was not sufficient to support us independently, and as her parents were feeling very lonely, we moved in with her parents. I felt humiliated, but rationalized it as for her pleasure. This started the process of my maladjustment. High society parties and money speaks attitude stunned me. My inferiority surfaced and the shyness gave way to dysphoria. In the beginning, Nandita sensed this and sympathized with me and tried to help me. However, she also lost her patience and started complaining about my inabilities to match the expectations of her society.

At the same time, her career soared, while mine plummeted. She was successful, appreciated by everyone and was a go-getter. I tried hard, but I could not meet the demands of my career and started to stagnate. At this time, Nandita began to become very demanding and dominating. She criticized my smallest mistakes and took my little jokes as severe criticisms. She became very sarcastic. I understand that it came from her frustrations. Our relationship deteriorated and I left her 3 months back. My family refused to take me back as I had deserted them for “better pleasures”. Today I live alone as a paying guest. Nandita feels cheated that I was not able to improve, I feel guilty and miserable that I was not able to correct myself, was not earning enough and was unable to take initiatives despite her support. I know that Nandita is flawless, and I have to improve but I do not know how. I love her and want to get the relationship going again. Please advise.

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Saurin, you have recognized the inferiority complex that you are suffering from and that it is the major force dictating the troubles of your relationship. Unless you work on your inferiority, it would not be advisable to work on the relationship. At the moment, there is a clear divide and hierarchy in your relationship, which needs to be worked on. It seems that your inferiority has evoked the dominating feelings in Nandita. She has been forced to take the reins of an otherwise insipid relationship and because of your inferiority; you have plummeted more and more. It is very clear that you idealize her as she is, but are not able to look at your own deficiencies.

You have restricted your field of action and are more concerned with avoiding defeat than with pressing forward to success. You give the impression of hesitating, of standing still, or even of retreating in the face of difficulties. The feeling is that when you are faced with the problems of life, there is nothing that you can do to improve things. You feel very vulnerable due to your increased sensitivity and believe that Nandita is treating her very brutally. These problems are due to your having set an impossible ambitious goal whose failure results in a feeling of inadequacy. The feelings of inferiority themselves are not abnormal. They in fact are the cause of all improvements in the human condition. Scientific progress is possible when people are conscious of their ignorance and their need to prepare for the future; it is the result of human beings to improve their lot.

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We devise increasingly meaningful solutions to our problems, move on to new difficulties and arrive at new solutions. In this way, we become capable of contributing to society. Saurin, you will have to move beyond your circle of familiarity and meet the problems of existence in this world. You may not be able to dominate other people in non-familiar situations but that is not the goal anyways. The goal is for you to leave the comfort of being able to live in those situations only where your feelings of inferiority are not challenged. You can win affection and love by independent efforts outside the bounds of your home.

You should start looking for relationships, which hold a meaning for you. Life will continue to pose problems all the time, and therefore you will never find yourself in a state of complete mastery over your environment. You need to get rid of the pessimism that you have brought on yourself and find an interim solution. You may not be entirely satisfied with the solution and the striving will continue, but in any case, it will be a hopeful, useful striving, directed towards a real improvement in a common situation.

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You also have to get out of the anxieties surrounding uncertainties in life. Surely, life would be very dull if everything could be foreseen, everything calculated in advance. Our interest in life comes mainly from the uncertainty and if tomorrow were to bring no unexpected opportunities, there would be very little to look forward to in the future. Saurin, you have to release that block in your development. Find solutions that are not superficial. Proceed with courage and independence to solve your problems in accordance with the social feelings as well as your own needs. Having resolved the internal difficulties, in your relationship with Nandita, she may not need to play the dominant partner and life can be the same as your courtship period was.


Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.