Laura, a UK-based school professor was blissfully unaware of the messy state of her husband’s financial affairs until one dark day, she was jolted by the threatening phone calls from a finance company demanding immediate return of the money lent to her husband. She was in for more shocks… The jewels in the locker of their safe was missing! It was only then Laura came to know of the financial mess her husband was in. He had heavily borrowed for unexplained reasons and sold the jewels to raise finance.

She felt so devastated and betrayed that she started disparaging and grilling him. Her daily grilling was so traumatising that her husband threatened to stay away from home and his health deteriorated. She panicked and realised that the confrontational attitude and the constant running him down was only making matters worse and may even lead to disastrous consequences. It did not take her long to decide that she must play a constructive role so as to raise her husband’s dipping morale.

Better Half – Best Support

Problems in the workplace, tottering business and consequent financial problems, legal wrangles, implication in a crime, downslide in career, complicated extramarital affairs – these are some of the crisis factors that entangle the victim in a traumatising situation. The more sensitive and chicken-hearted a person is greater the psychological damage suffered by him. The sad fact is that in many a case the woman is kept in the dark and the gravity of her husband’s predicament is revealed to her only at a later stage.

Some men, especially the introverted and uncommunicative ones keep their women totally in the dark and hide the crisis from her. A sense of guilt and shame prevent many from disclosing the facts of the situation. They prefer suffering in silence rather than disturbing her peace. “My wife is too nervous and fretful to bear the blow, hence I avoid confiding in her and play down the seriousness of the problems on my career front,” says David, a marketing company employee.

Those who cannot bottle up the inner conflicts and anxieties and who depend a lot on their wives’ support make a clean breast of every bit of the crisis and share all their woes with her. What about couples who don’t get along well with each other, between whom a wall of bitterness exists? In such cases, the husband may totally exclude her from the messy goings-on or provide her as little insight as possible into his troubles. But the fact is the wife can exercise a major influence and can be the instrument of arresting her husband becoming a wreck. She can make or mar the chances of his recovery.

Rise Up To The Challenge

Having lived with the man under the same roof for years, the wife cannot fail to notice unmistakable symptoms of disturbed state of the man’s mind. According to Dr Meenakshi Martins, a psychiatrist and member, State Commission for women, the first sign of mental disturbance is listlessness and other early symptoms are withdrawal from everything, eating too much, spending a lot of time with the Internet, sleeplessness, heavy drinking, etc… As for long-term signs, Dr Martins warns of hypertension, diabetes due to prolonged stress and mental illness if there is a family history of mental illness and also .. depending on the level of stress and his emotional coping ability.

Hypomania which is less harmful than full mania, suicidal tendencies, irrational behaviour and emotional violence on women are described by her as some of the serious symptoms.

Even if she does not have a clear picture of the whole mess; even if she is not fully aware of what he is passing through, the early symptoms of his inner turmoil should be enough to alert the wife and make her rise to the occasion.

Here are a few important tips for successfully guiding your man through the morass of complications, apprehensions and uncertainties bogging him down:

Be all ears and eyes so that you are able to detect when and if anything about him goes amiss and you can step in at the right moment and even rescue him from what is threatening to be a grave crisis. There are cases of women taking up the cudgels to redeem the honour of their husbands. Even if he is not forthcoming, and suppresses serious facts about his predicament, draw him out of his shell. Put your heads together and explore various options to come out of the mess.

It is at times when the person’s morale is at its lowest, it requires a lot of concern and care to boost his morale. Psychologist Diane Papalia says, “Spouses can help each other deal with stress by showing their love and support and by helping each other understand what is happening and how to deal with it.” Avoid putdowns and demoralising remarks and help him to cultivate positive outlook.

Men with low self-esteem and very little self-confidence may require counselling sessions or psychiatric help during the crisis. Dr Martins points out that if the stress is mild, emotional support can go a long way in de-stressing but if the stress is serious, medical intervention with the help of mental health professionals is required. But as Martins remarks, “The most difficult situation is convincing the man about the need for treatment.” The man’s ego comes in the way of admitting the mental illness or depression.

Martins who deals with cases of abused women points out that the affected men don’t want to accept the mental illness and accuse the wife of being paranoid and ask her to have a check-up. Timely steps taken to revive the tumbling morale and boost his spirits as soon as the symptoms are manifest, will go a long way in preventing his turning into a wreck and who else but the man’s life partner alone can do that.