A reader asks: I am an Indian citizen, born and brought up in the UAE. I am an MBA graduate and a full time employee with a reputed organization.
I fell in love and got married to a man of Indian origin and have been living with him for three years. Both our parents also stay in Dubai. Over the course of three years, I got pregnant and delivered a beautiful little boy. Things were not right from the beginning as my in-laws always had demands, which was very difficult to fulfill.
After staying for two years with my in-laws, I decided to move out. My husband had no choice but to follow. Now, the conditions are such that they don't speak to me or even want to have any sort of contact with me, but they always meet their son and grandson whenever they want to. Our fights always used to start and end with this and somehow we have been pushing this married life.
Last week, after an argument, my husband packed his bags and moved out of the house to stay with his parents, leaving me and my son behind. We have agreed to go in for a divorce as we no longer see ourselves being happy with each other. Now, everyday I live with the stress and fear that he will come and take my son away from me. I have been having sleepless nights and it is affecting my productivity at work. I keep calling my son's playschool every hour to find out if he is all right. I have become highly agitated and stressful.
Please tell me what to do?
Dr. Melanie C. Schlatter, (PhD, Consultant Health Psychologist, Well Woman Clinic, Dubai) replies: Thank you for your email. I appreciate the vulnerability that you are feeling and the fact that you are very scared regarding the situation at hand. Problem solving always helps one to feel more in control of a situation, and it could aid you emotionally. As such, I am wondering about the legalities of whether your husband can actually come and just take away your child from the playschool. I am assuming not, but wonder if you can seek legal advice given that this is your primary fear? I feel that once you have knowledge about the rights of both parties, then you will feel more empowered and less distressed. You could also inform the playschool of your concerns, and ask them to notify you immediately if there is anything suspicious. This would help to stop you from engaging in the worry cycle as much as you are. Indeed, the more worry, and the more you act on it (which unwittingly reinforces the worry), then the more your sleep will be affected - and we need you to be as clear as possible about what is happening - lessening the doubts and concerns.
It also appears that you cannot afford to let this affect your work - although in saying that, it is possible that you may need to take a little time off to sort things out. You are already a full-time working mother, and thus your responsibilities are great - but your dedication to your son's welfare is paramount. I would be interested to know how your son is reacting to this also, as he needs to feel consistently safe, loved, secure and he needs routines around him. Are you able to provide this for him, or do you feel the stress is too great? Furthermore, can you ask your own parents or friends for help, functional support and guidance on the matter? You see, not only do you need to look after yourself (keeping healthy physically and practicing relaxation, where possible, is extremely important) but you need the emotional support as well.
Regarding your marital situation, it is very sad that it may end like this, and it sounds like you have had a tremendously difficult, frustrating and sad time trying to care for your son and husband, likely feeling very helpless as the in-laws made contact without acknowledging you in the slightest. Indeed, it sounds as if your husband's parents affected this marriage substantially, more than what would have been the case, had the two of you been left to your own devices. Although I do not know the type of demands that were placed on you by your in-laws, I wonder if it is possible for the two of you to seek counselling, if and before you proceed with divorce though? I realise that there were problems right from the start, but you must have many questions and you will need insight and clarity in order to move forward advantageously. Furthermore, there is still a child involved, and your husband and your in-laws will still want to have contact with him, so counselling is about preparing you for all of this, regardless of what decision you end up making. In essence, I know you are an intelligent woman, but you can't do this alone, so please reach out, problem solve and get all the support you need.
Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of psychiatrists are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.