Stress Matters – Dr Susan Musikanth


Julian, 35 arrived at my rooms flustered with an urgency to explain his distress.
“I’ve had it. I am not prepared to live like this anymore. Whatever I do for Carol is not enough. She complains to everyone who will listen how much she does for me and the kids and how I’m never there.
“I believe that I provide very well for her and for the kids. She complains that my work takes me away from the family. I travel a lot and work long hours. I also need time off and love to play golf. She becomes like a raging bull when I mention a golf arrangement.

“I really enjoy the kids and spend good time with them. She says it’s not enough. We socialise about once a week with good friends. She says that I should make time to be alone with her. Quite honestly, when we are alone all she does is moan about what I do wrong. She thinks that I’m having a party at work every day and that she is left with all of the responsibility for our home and kids.
“I arranged for us to spend a romantic weekend away. I believed that we would make passionate love (something else missing in our lives). When I approached her with my idea she screamed abuse at me. She told me that I only wanted her for her body and that all men want from women is sex.
I don’t know what went wrong. We used to be best friends. We would plot and plan to make love at every available and unavailable opportunity. We didn’t have much money at the start of our marriage but we were happy. What went wrong?”
It is usually a few years into a long-term committed love relationship -such as marriage – that a couple enter the reality stage of love. It is often here that the couple are faced with the end of exquisite love and experience feelings of disappointment along with disillusionment at the emergence of each other’s negative behaviours, attitudes and feelings.
There is frequently also a power struggle between partners and a resistance to sacrifice hard-earned, perhaps newfound, and prized individuality and independence from family. Then add your and your partner’s past baggage, as well as demands and issues that couples commonly face at this stage:

  • men/women diversity;
  • finances;
  • children;
  • roles;
  • in-laws;
  • sexuality and much more.;

This combination of forces could spell “unhappily-ever-after” or divorce/separation. On the other hand, the awareness, communication and slightly altered approach to these issues could result in a much desired, mature, passionate friendship between partners.
Although the ingredients, elements and issues that commonly arise in marriage are addressed here, many of these patterns also exist in other forms of long-term, committed reality love relationships.
Besides the discussion of these issues, coping strategies and guidelines are offered when couples are faced with them.