Bottling up – 23 Sep 2009

Women have the habit of bottling up emotions and then bursting out. The bursting out at the end of the limits of tolerance is then like a volcanic eruption which throws up hot burning lava which can destroy everything beautiful around you. Nothing survives unfortunately. In human experience such an analogy takes a few interesting forms. Let’s look at Ms. Pranali for an example. An introvert by nature she was married to the eldest son of a reputed business family. He turned out to be extroverted and dominating by nature. Although he never abused or exploited her he did not spend enough time with her. He shouldered the entire responsibility of the family which was large enough and was practical by nature. She was romantic and sensitive and less social. The mother in law ran the show at home and was in control. There were misunderstandings between Pranali and her mother-in-law as Pranali was not very communicative and did not express her feelings. She tried explaining some things to her husband who brushed it off as minor issues. She developed a good rapport with the younger brother-in-law but that was lost after he married. The other two wives of the younger brothers-in-law were smarter than her and she felt dominated by both. She eventually could not develop a healthy relationship with the members of the family and felt victimised by their politics. One day she attempted suicide but was saved in time. That’s when the family suffered a rude shock. They however failed to understand the reasons for such a drastic action. Everything was good. What went wrong?


Take the case of Ms. Mona. She was submissive and docile and always well behaved. Her husband was happy with her as he liked her submissiveness and also thought he could mould her according to his wishes. She wanted to work outside but her husband did not like the idea. She had a single child and was generally bored at home and he always had a busy schedule at office. She wanted to join some classes but he again would not allow it. She began to drift away from her husband and stopped communicating with him. She began bottling up her emotions and suppressing them. After almost ten years of marriage she got involved with a man on the net and planned to run away with him. And one day she did just that.

Bottling up and suppressing emotions does not help either partner. Both suffer the consequences of this strategy. The results spell disaster for both the spouses, the marriage itself, the innocent kids and the entire family. We must understand that human emotional frustrations take on many expressions. Pranali bottled her feelings and tried to solve the problem by erupting against her own self by trying to end her life. Mona’s frustrations erupted by her drastic attempt to escape from her home with another male. It would not be wrong to assume that women bottle up their emotions more than men. It could be that as girls they are trained by their mothers to keep quiet, don’t complain, suffer in silence and tolerate. Men may be taught to take up the patriarchal leadership at home and if not to ignore their wives then at least not to give them undue importance. ‘For women are like that and will always be like that’, they are taught. ‘If you listen to your wife you will be doomed’ goes the saying. The problem needs to be corrected from both the sides. For old values must be replaced with new ones as generations change and evolve into better human beings.

Expressing emotional problems helps clear the air in a marriage and helps in communicating emotional needs. The onus lies on both the partners. Blaming one to the exception of the other will not help at all. A woman is less adept in communicating her needs to her husband whereas a man may be clearer in his needs and asks for them directly. She may beat around the bush and not get to the point. Hence in the process some women might over express and repeat themselves which irritates the other. Of course it is imperative to remember that everything cannot be expressed between two married partners. And need not be too. Some things are better left unexpressed and unstated. There is a fine balance between expression and suppression of emotions. Someone who understands this balance will neither bottle up to erupt one day and nor will they habitually indulge in loud inane verbosity.

Published in Hitavada Women’s World on September 23 2009

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