A very close friend of mine is stuck in what sometimes seems to me like a really unhappy marriage. I have gone through all sorts of phases- from wishing I had been a better girlfriend so I'd be up to speed with her life and choices when she started going out with him- then wishing I had voiced my disapproval when I finally found out who it was - then actually trying to vaguely tell her to reconsider- but there's only so much you can do from long distance- then even feeling happiness for her that her parents agreed to their marriage- but actually secretly wished they hadn't- then hearing her complain endlessly for the past 2 -3 years- and then seeing things for myself and wondering if things were really as bad or if she was just telling me the annoying parts and leaving out the happy bits- or if she had just not come to terms with the basic socio-economic-cultural divide between herself and her husband and never would.
whew. long sentence.
There were times I felt my friend's constant cribbing, unhappiness- or at least the way she projected them to me- via email, chat etc- were so overwhelming to me- but wondered if that was just her little vent and chance at offloading what was a clear conflict between the way we had been brought up and the house she ended up marrying into. Even later, I'd tell her to get out of it - but the next thing I know, she is working hard on having a child.
My friend is not dumb. Far from. She's smart and well-accomplished for herself. I don't think I'll ever have a realistic picture of the life she leads- all I hear are rants, cribs, complaints, general unhappiness. And they always end with "but you don't worry about me". When I visit her and her husband- he seems alright- yes- the socio-cultural divide is huge- but he respects her parents- is familiar and friendly with her family members- and these little outwardly signs made me wonder if its all that miserable as I was perceiving. Of course I don't get to witness his overbearing, dominating and suspicious attitude with her, or the fact that his mom makes her life miserable in petty ways and he won't stand up for her- all these things I only hear from my friend.
Today I asked her what she wanted out of life? Did she want to continue like this- did the good outweigh the bad enough? She said she has given it a thought and decided that she has to take life as it comes.
I know its easier said than done to get out of a marriage- especially in India- but I know of my own cousins who have done it- if anything- to just maintain their sanity. It is for nobody else to say what constitutes reason enough to get out of a marriage- if it something you simply are not equipped to deal with- its probably wiser to get out than compromise with a lifetime of unhappiness/dissatisfaction etc. And only you know your breaking points.
I have made a very cold decision today- to "be there" for my friend as her sounding/venting board- but only as long as it doesn't bring me down. In the past- it used to bother me- we have grown up together- and it pained me to see that she was having such a tough life. But I really think that she seems to have accepted her lot- for whatever reason- and its pointless for me to get agitated/dragged-down/debate in my own head about the kind of advice I can give her- or even feel remotely responsible for anything.
I don't know if I'm perpetuating her self-fulfilling cycle by being a passive listener. I feel compelled to say, every now and then- if its so bad what are you thinking about having a kid for? But I think thats the point- its probably not so bad- or not bad enough for her to be inspired enough to get out of it.
I have just decided to be slightly detached. Because I think at this point she needs to make her peace with it- find her own happiness in whatever way she can- or else seriously contemplate ending it- if it is indeed as miserable. I really don't know how I can help. I am out of ideas and, I am afraid, out of sympathy.