Rise of the non-married spouse
jamuna news desk: We all need that 3 am friend who rants with us into the wee hours, shares a laugh and provides comfort fodder on everything from workplace politics to dealing with in-laws and even why your cat has run away! But what happens when that pal becomes a 24-hour go-to person, quite literally? And this is no one-off either.
There are a staggering number of people who are turning to a person other than their spouse to share their emotions, thoughts, opinions, stress and everything except, well... the bed! With ebbing levels of tolerance, stress and other factors, work and social media spouses are becoming more valued then actual partners. See yourself here, too? You're definitely not alone.
'He reads my mind better than my husband'
"Hey, are you okay?" is the text Nisha Advani gets almost every time she sits in on a key-level advertising meeting at her firm and it's not coming from her husband. The 31-year-old, who got married a year ago, gets the message from her bachelorette days friend, Nitin, who has always checked up on her in times of need. "I may not be married to him, but he knows me so well, it's like he reads my mind inside out, even more than my husband. Our friends used to call him my work spouse and now he's gotten to be my non-married one," she laughs.
There's a moniker for such a pal he or she becomes the 'non-married spouse'. And it can be anyone. That friend from your social media site, a work client you have clicked with or of course, the best friend from the bachelor days who has spilled onto your marital turf. But for married folks, having such a third rung, no matter how helpful, can put things into an uneasy limbo. Experts warn that while this may be gratifying, such a seemingly harmless connect can also be a trigger for marital discord.
Lawyer speak: It causes rifts in a marriage
City-based lawyer Siddhartha Shah affirms this. "I have dealt with several divorce cases of late, especially among younger couples who are anyway jumpy through the first few years of marriage where such high 'dependency' on a friend has caused a parting of ways. People don't hesitate to meet up in coffee shops, take a person to a rock show or even shopping. The spouse may not like it and is unable to say no. This is where the trouble starts."
People tend to lean on those who are in front of them
It's not rocket science why it happens. "It's simple," says counsellor and cognitive therapist, Dr Shefali Batra. "You want to be with someone who is in front of you; someone who is literally in front of your face. That's one of the reasons why these relationships may be getting stronger." She has had several cases of marital discord owing to such relationships. "I have clients who say, 'There is nothing wrong with my spouse, but I don't know why I want to really be with this other person. I feel he understands me and is there for me. If I have a problem, I can just go to over to him and say, 'Let's go out and have a chai'."
It's the result of 24x7 work culture, changing office dynamics .
Such over dependency on someone other than the hubby or wife is seen the most in work spouses, adds Batra. "This typically happens at the workplace and such relationships are on the rise for several reasons. For one, the hierarchy at work is breaking. With open offices, you are no longer in isolated work stations or cubicles. There are also more shared workstations that foster such interaction. Secondly, the number of work hours are increasing so there is more time spent at work than with your partner. And flexible timings means outside lunches, more out-of-town retreats, offsite meanings and wellness activities, etc that tend to defuse work stress and make it like one, big fat picnic. But so much of spending time with another can definitely add distance from the spouse."