Stream it or skip it?

It’s neither the first nor the last time that I am writing about one of the most important relationships human beings have; the institution of marriage. Why do I keep coming back to this topic? It is because, in my opinion, it is the most complicated relationship that requires ongoing work even in the best of marriages. It is the unison of two different people with different backgrounds, psychologies, and personalities shaped by unique family histories. An understanding between a couple can only be achieved with an insight into all these factors and their role in the relationship. Change is the only constant in life, and as people grow up and change, so does the marriage, unless the partners can catch up to that change, one has a dysfunctional relational model that will be stuck in rigidity and unhappiness.
I also think that every marriage is unique and can be designed as per the needs and attitudes of the parties involved. Some couples choose divorce whereas others have a separation model where they don’t share physical space but continue to carry the label for many reasons most significantly children. Many difficult marriages continue because of children as well.
There is a big debate on this and where I partly agree that a marriage should not continue because of children, I think it’s equally valid to continue for the sake of children as well. Why not? The love and commitment a parent has for his child is unprecedented and is not a choice but an unwavering compulsion to love and take care of the children even as they enter adulthood. If a couple chooses to stick through a difficult marriage for the sake of their kids, it’s a good enough reason that should be respected.
The point is that a couple can decide what kind of model they want and ideally a loving healthy relationship is the best option. But if for reasons known and unknown, they outgrow each other and find it hard to be in an intimate relationship but can co-exist in a co-parenting dynamic, that’s acceptable as well. In our society, the idea of a married couple leading separate lives within the same home is judged and looked down upon. Again, I am not endorsing this model or stating that it is ideal. It is the last stage of a relationship where there seems to be no room for improvement. However, I do think that sometimes when a marital relationship is dead, it’s best to let go and call a spade a spade. Mostly such marriages are those where both partners continue to inflict hurt on each other and neither is a bad person per se but for one reason or more, they could no longer stay connected. It is best to then give space to each other and come up with rules that suit all and maintain the sanctity of the family intact.
A marriage is a beautiful relationship but it’s not necessary that everyone can endorse the highly functional form of it. You have to see if you can stream the right model or skip it like the popular question asked in the entertainment industry and if the latter is the option both want to take then so be it. Acceptance of reality is a better place to be in than running after illusion. Nowhere am I suggesting that we don’t work hard on relationships or hope and aspire to do better but sometimes a relationship hits an impasse that is impossible to get out and, in that case, taking the relationship off the vent is better than letting a dead one continue the way it is. A marriage requires a lot of energy and so at some point, the couple can choose to invest that within themselves or a higher purpose in life and maybe co-exist as friends who can be each other’s well-wishers rather than be intimate partners to each other. So, each to their own as they say and let every marriage run its course the way it sees fit

The writer is a BACP (British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) accredited individual and couple psychotherapist based in Islamabad. She can be reached at or her official website.

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