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How to deal with emotional matters?

Dr Jitendra Nagpal on love, relationships and life...Read on to know if solves your problem.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2008 17:13 IST

I am 30 years old and have decided to marry a girl selected by my parents. However, I am apprehensive about it and I feel we’ll have problems adjusting. Though she seems compatible, I am not entirely comfortable. My parents have suggested that I go in for premarital counselling. How will it help me?
Marriage and relationships are complex, but at the same time, it is a blessing and a gift for human beings to have meaningful relationships. It is a healthy idea to get premarital counselling before you enter into this lifelong commitment.
The premise is to strengthen your relationship and prepare constructively for future challenges and conflicts that everyone will inevitably face at some point in their marriage.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. You may focus upon exploring and enhancing relationship skills like compatibility, expectations, effective communication with each other, conflict resolution, intimacy and sexuality and long-term goals which will contribute to harmony in marriage. It should offer vital steps for you to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

My son is 16 and is into body-building. He used to be scrawny a year ago and his friends used to tease him. He was also affected by some film stars’ bodies and wanted a physique like them. Initially, he visited the gym for fitness, but later he got hooked to body-building and even started consuming heavy protein supplements. He now looks much older and hardly has any friends. How can I help my child?
It is imperative for a parent to teach their child that appearance does not alone define one’s personality. As a parent you must demystify the idea of irrational aping of images projected on screen and the craving to look like stars. Communicate this often and firmly. Everyone around can also help make a positive difference in your child’s life by encouraging him to stay interested in diverse activities.

Be a role model for his perseverance and have patience to facilitate positive social behaviours. A family that can dream, joke, laugh, and lighten up their days with humour can help to prevent negativity and unhealthy stress.
Let him know that gymming must be only for remaining healthy and fit. Being obsessed with body-building will not prove beneficial in the long run. Encourage social behaviour with friends and family and seek involvement in other accomplishments. Also praise his good traits. A self-esteem boost can do wonders for teens.

I have been in a relationship for the past two years. Prior to this, both of us were in separate relationships which ended on a bitter note. I am very happy in this present relationship but I am unable to believe that it will last. My past still haunts me and has made me lose faith in love. My boyfriend also feels the same way. How can we learn to trust love when both of us have been badly hurt in the past?
It is very honest of you to have come up with this query. First, take a moment to stop and celebrate how far you both have come in a healthy relationship. Having a little fear is not a bad thing for you and your boyfriend to experience; it will keep you on your toes and compel you to pay attention. If both of you look back on the previous failed relationships, you might notice the inattention to the warning signs, problems, conflicts and unmet needs.

Now that you are starting afresh and you both are scared of making the same mistakes again, you should be careful that your needs get met. Making a Relationship Mistake list will truly assess your relationship now. Do not be surprised about how long these lists can be. Share them with each other and agree upon a relationship rule for each old mistake.

The point of this exercise is twofold: first, it will help you understand that your prior relationships did not go bad without reason. There were specific unhealthy attitudes and habits that caused the relationships to fail; second, by paying attention to these and committing to healthy choices you have a great chance of avoiding the old mistakes.

(Dr Jitendra Nagpal is Sr Consultant Psychiatrist, VIMHANS and Moolchand Hospital, New Delhi, and Programme Director, ‘Expressions India’ — The Life Skills Education and Community Mental Health Programme)