Friday, 25 January 2013

Divorce – The New Marriage Mantra?

“They are going through a divorce”, she said nonchalantly. Her friend mouthed an “Oh!”, equally nonchalantly. One would not ask, the other would not say! 
I was surprised to be witness to this passive exchange - no tch tching, no sympathy, not even gossip.
Had we learnt to mask our reactions or had we simply learnt to take in the 7 letter word – DIVORCE, as easily as some 4 letter words thrown around these days?!
So what’s the big deal really, you might ask. Divorce has become as common a word as ‘marriage’. 

Earlier in India, divorce was taboo (well almost), but not so anymore.  Divorce rates are rising steadily in India with a speed that would put some other nations with higher divorce rates to shame. The divorce rate in the IT industry, they say is climbing. But why single out the IT industry? Divorce rates are increasing everywhere – caste, creed, religion, culture, community, age no bar. 

So what’s going wrong in marriages these days?
Blame it on poor relationship management and certain other external factors like work, stress, environment, family and expectations that lead to a divorce. Although each divorce case and its reasons are different there are a few common causes that lead to it:
1)      Changing work environment: Rising ambitions and increasing work pressures exert an inhuman demand on both partners, whether both are working or not. This results in none being able to give each other enough time for the relationship to work, leave alone prosper. The additional demands of children and family make things worse; if both partners are working, the situation is like a sitting bomb ready to explode at short notice.
2)      Gender roles are blurred: When both partners are on an equal footing in their careers, it becomes difficult to establish clear roles for each one at home. The blurred roles add to intolerance, frustrations and may lead to separation.
3)      Incompatibility: Sometimes the marriage is wrong in the first place with at least one partner being against the marriage or forced into it. In such cases, sooner or later the gaps start raising their ugly heads.
4)      Other reasons such as in-law trouble, domestic abuse, alcoholism, etc.: These reasons always existed; only now it is easier for the abused to end the marriage. Society also looks at such instances more benevolently than it used to, earlier.
5)      Extra marital relationships: With both men and women spending more time working outside and succumbing to attractions outside the marriage. These ultimately may result in divorce. 

Is it possible to prevent a divorce? Save a marriage?
Divorce can be prevented in some cases, but not all and not always. Where the relationship is sliding, steps can be taken to arrest the downslide. It is possible through counseling to pinpoint the underlying causes and take concrete steps to eliminate those causes over time, then working on the relationship to revive it. Relationship management has helped hundreds of couples who have been fighting for a divorce on relatively flimsy reasons. Through emotions management and relationship management, many divorces have been avoided with the couple enjoying a fulfilling relationship for years. 

So what exactly is this relationship management?
I am not talking of an MBA degree here, I am talking about some simple principles we all need to follow in all relationships – romantic or not.  

Key Principles that can make a good relationship better or save a deteriorating one      

1. Forget selfishness. Be ready to give more. 
Both partners should be willing to give more. Not resorting to calculating who has done what, or who should do how much; both should give love, time and effort to the relationship. 
2. Do not expect anyone to be perfect. Avoid playing the blame game.
Accept that like your partner, you have your problem areas which he/she cannot take, and be willing to change. If things go wrong, do not blame your partner, see how you could together improve the situation. .
3. Say ‘Sorry’
Everyone makes mistakes, but in a good relationship, both willingly accept theirs. Saying sorry can do a world of good to your relationship. Keep your ego aside, say sorry and move on. 
4. Listen more. Talk less.
First make sure you know that your relationship is not a win-lose game. If anything, it is a win-win game. If you listen more, you will understand your partner better, his/her fears, concerns, insecurities and goodness. That way you will be able to give more. When your partner does the same, you have a Win-Win relationship on your hands
5. Trust and support one other.
If you follow the principle of ‘Trust by default’ and ‘Support without a cause’, you will have a long lasting and happy relationship. Support your partner in all times and see how things improve
6. Talk and Communicate. Be open.
Misunderstandings can ruin a relationship within no time. Instead of sulking, talk it out with one another; you will be surprised how easy it is to resolve the issue. Never be critical of one another, but do make it a point to suggest an improvement. A healthy dialogue is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
7. Respect one another
Respect all human beings and more so your partner. Respect can change your perspective about your relationship and help you realize its value in time. 

There is no perfect relationship. Only, perfectly good relationships. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

When anxiety is killing you from inside…

“It was dark and I was watching the murder in horror. I was cold and sweaty, both at the same time but seemed to be frozen and welded to my seat. The darkness was killing and though I was sipping my coke I could not ignore my heart beating wildly against my chest. I was drenched n a cold sweat and was shaking. It was so dark everywhere. I wanted to run”. 

It happened to her every time they went to watch a movie or a play; the darkness, the sea of faces and the enclosed spaces seemed to scare the daylight out of her; so much so that she stopped thinking rationally. When her husband asked her “What are you scared of?”, she could not think of an answer. But scared she was, to the point of passing out in sheer terror. She had GAD (General Anxiety Disorder).

So what is GAD?
There are different types of anxiety disorders people suffer from. In GAD, people typically complain about a heart- attack-like feeling or report an attack.
We end up taking anxiety lightly, at least the rest of the family or friends do and the sufferer ends up suffering in silence not able to voice her thoughts, just like the lady above. Most people do not understand what anxiety is, they do not accept that is a form of a mental illness and that the sufferer needs help.
Today, I am going to try to dispel the clouds of misunderstanding that ‘Anxiety’ is shrouded in. I am going to try to answer some questions that people ask me about ‘Anxiety’. Here you go:

Q # 1: What is anxiety? I feel anxious even before a presentation. Is something wrong with me? 
Anxiety before presentation or a performance is perfectly normal. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it starts occurring regularly.
Anxiety has three characteristics:
a)      It has to be intrinsic (within you)
b)      It is vague – does not have a shape – you really cannot pinpoint its reason
c)      It is conflict producing – it puts you in a dilemma
Anxiety is not fear and there is a difference between the two. Fear is external, has a definite shape (you know what is it that is making you fearful) and fear never produces conflict. Example: There is a snake under your chair and you are terrified of it – that is fear.
But anxiety is – you are scared ‘something untoward’ is going to happen and you don’t know what that ‘something’ is, why it could happen or when it could happen. 
You become a patient of anxiety when it starts becoming a frequent phenomenon.

Q # 2: How do I know that I /my near and dear one may be suffering from anxiety? What are its signs?
Questions to ask yourself :
1)      Are you constantly worried?
2)      Are you gripped by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake off?
3)      Do you believe that something bad will happen, always?
4)      Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
5)      Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
6)      Do you feel that there is danger lurking around every corner?
7)      Is your normal life disrupted due to excessive worrying? 

Q # 3 Is anxiety of one type, people worry about so many different things…?
There are different types of anxiety disorders people suffer from, as is given below. In all these, people typically complain about a heart- attack-like feeling or report an attack.
1)   Generalized Anxiety Disorder:  Symptoms will be among those mentioned above.
2)   Panic Disorder: The person has a heart-attack-like feeling, palpitation (heart beating wildly), profuse sweating and a feeling of ‘I am going to die’.
3)    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsession about something to the extent that the person feels that it will be the end of the world if he/she does not perform a particular task. Example: A person may have an obsession about cleanliness so much that he/she may even try to keep toilets outside his home clean, unknowingly).
4)    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This anxiety is the result of some trauma the person has or is suffering from like bereavement, death of a near one, shock due to accident, close shave with fate, etc.
5)     Specific Phobias: A phobia is an intense, irrational fear about a particular thing such as Hydrophobia (Fear of water/ocean/swimming), fear of closed spaces like Claustrophobia (a person may be terrified about getting stuck in a lift) or Vertigo - fear of heights.

Q # 4 How does anxiety affect my body?
1)      Anxiety may cause disturbances in your Blood Pressure
2)      May affect normal functioning of your thyroid and cholesterol
3)      Anxiety has a direct correlation with many illnesses – diabetes, BP
4)      Anxiety before a pre-surgery blood test or MRI is even known to affect the prognosis (readings).

Q # 5 Can Anxiety be cured? How?

There are various ways to address ‘Anxiety’. Anxiety disorders respond very well to treatment and more often than not in a relatively short period of time. So stop worrying! The specific treatment approach depends on the type and severity of the anxiety and the individual.  Most anxieties are treated with behavioral therapy, medication, or some combination of the two.

Behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are types of behavioral therapy, meaning they focus on behavior rather than on underlying psychological conflicts or issues from the past. Behavioral therapy for anxiety usually takes between 5 and 20 weekly sessions.
Medication for anxiety disorders: This is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy and anxiety self-help methods. 


Q # 6 Do I have to take medicines for life? Will I get addicted to these medicines?
The duration for which you may need to take medicines depends on the type of illness. In an acute illness, it is good for you to begin with medicines and later switch to therapy. 

Q # 7 Will medicines make me drowsy or stop me from work?
These days medication has no sedation, which means you will have no difficulty in concentrating on tasks and day-to-day functioning will be normal.

So just relax. Anxiety can be cured.