Family Pressures

QUESTION: Masters, as much as I love my husband, I find his parents very trying. His father is vulgar, unhygienic, and irresponsible. His mother is only slightly better. They are divorced now. His father doesn’t take care of his grandmother and thank goodness for his aunties, who are able to look after her. However, because my husband needs to chip in as well, he gets tired easily and he doesn’t have the energy to improve himself, in terms of his education. I foresee much suffering for both of us if this continues. I would like to know what are the life lessons that my husband and I are supposed to learn? Is my husband not improving himself simply due to his tiredness? ~H J J, Singapore

ANSWER: A sense of responsibility for others affects various people in different ways. Your in-laws care only for themselves. Day-to-day customs, hygiene, and socialization are personal matters, and it is difficult to convince any adults that they are not measuring up to societal standards. They simply don’t care what other people think about them.

When someone is forced into assuming responsibility for a relative’s care, which is normally provided by another, many factors come into play. How do people feel about this duty? Does it weigh heavily on them because they don’t see why they should have to do it and feel “put upon” by the situation?

Performing a service you do not feel is your responsibility does more to you than make you physically tired. It can impact you mentally and emotionally as well. An internal struggle brought on by re-living the reasons that place you in a situation you did not choose takes a lot of energy. If, in addition to fighting what you are doing, you see it is preventing you from carrying on in your life the way you feel you need to in order to obtain success, your whole life becomes a misery.

Your husband is doing all this work, being prevented from doing what he feels he needs to do for his future, and inside he is fuming at his father for forcing him into this situation. This is not the first time he has had to do something he didn’t want to because of his father’s actions, and each time his resentment and anger get stronger and stronger. This is emotionally tiring him out and bleeding off his initiative to better himself. He needs to realize where his feelings are going, and decide what he wants to do about the gathering negativity. Acknowledging that it is there is the first step to handling it.