Q. I am 58 years of age and have just retired from job. I was a professor of mathematics in a college and have now retired. A year ago I lost my wife due to ill health and she suddenly died. I stay with my son and daughter-in-law(DIL) in my house. I am unable to adjust in my own house and face daily problems of one type or the other. I am not happy with my life and feel like there is no point in living this life. The issues arise with my DIL as she is a young girl and there is a huge gap in understanding. There are conflicts of some sort daily which is frustrating to me. She once said that I should go and live in an old home. My son does not talk to me like that but he seems to be helpless. He knows that it is my house and my son does not have a separate house as yet. He wants to stay with me but adjustment is not good. I would also like to stay with them but please tell me ways to make good adjustments.
Ans. You have led a fruitful work life and I am sure you had a good personal life too with your wife and children. Her loss is a major one at this age, and for that matter at any age. The coincidence of losing her and your retirement has impacted you in a big way. This makes it important that you re-engage yourself in teaching or coaching/tutoring and get busy. Since your spouse is no more your sense of loneliness needs to be tackled in the right manner. Children have their own life to lead and expecting from them makes a difficult situation. I am sure you are physically fit at this young age and can find meaningful work to do. Mathematics is a subject which is much in demand and I am sure you will find students you can help. Treat your daughter-in-law with kindness and like a daughter and forgive her for her simple follies. Have a dialogue with her and compromise with her on daily tasks. Strike a loving chord with her and she will return the favours. Adjustment is always a two way process. You learn to give and take without getting into ‘ego’ conflicts. When we curb the ego things ease out a lot. Elders can take the initiative and show the way to youngsters. As a teacher and professor I am sure you know how to mould a difficult ‘student’! A session of counselling can also help.
Q. My family is a happy family but my sister-in-law is a difficult person. It is a joint family and we live well. She avoids her own work and tries to push it on me. I cannot oppose her and do whatever she says. She does not help me in the work and I fulfil all the jobs. I want to say many things to her but cannot do so. I want to tell her to share some load but I am not able to tell her to share my work. She is strict and gets anger very fast. There is no one who understands me in the right way and my mother-in-law likes her and listens to her whatever she says. I feel scared of her and her temper and am not able to tell her my mind. What should I do to divide the work and convince her to share some tasks so that I get some free time. Please help me as I cannot come for counselling.
Ans. You seem to be a submissive person. You must be shy and scared of her and hence she makes the better of it. You will have to learn how to be assertive and bold and communicative. Without being aggressive learn to tell her in a nice way to help you with some tasks and get her around to helping you. At times you may just leave the work and don’t do it and forget about it. If someone points it out, make an excuse and let someone finish it. You need to treat yourself with some more respect than you seem to be doing at the moment and start communicating in a sweet way. Learn to say ‘no’ to things and go away happily. Submissiveness is not good for anyone and is unhealthy. It allows others to take advantage of you and makes you unhappy. People will take you for granted and misuse your goodness. It is an art and can be practised and can be learnt. It is a skill that can be taught. We can train you in the art of assertiveness.