Setting Limits on Love - Usha Jesudasan

Setting limits on love

Did you ever think that possessiveness could be a form of violence?
Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury 

A young man was in love with a beautiful girl. "Im a very possessive woman," she warned him, but he just shrugged and smiled indulgently, not understanding what she meant. A month into their marriage, he found out what being possessive meant. His wife called him almost every hour at work: "where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing?" She checked his briefcase, pockets and shelves; eavesdropped on conversations; resented time spent with his friends and family. To keep the peace at home, he gave in to each demand until one day he realised that he had lost his freedom to have thoughts, likes and dislikes of his own.

I have lost count of the letters I have received from women whose husbands not only deny them basic rights through their possessive behaviour but also prevent them from keeping in touch with their families, escort them to and from work, and curtail all other relationships and activities other than housework. Indian mothers are especially famous for being possessive of their sons. Have you ever thought of such possessiveness as a form of violence? You may be the nicest of women, but if you are a possessive mother, then you could easily be a himsa person.

The dominant nature of relationships today is of the possessive himsa kind due to poor self confidence, a low level of creativity, and deep feelings of being unloved. Such people are very insecure and are afraid of others’ freedom. They assume that unless they bind their loved ones, they will be left behind, or not loved in return. So they suffocate them with their possessive violent love.

Possessiveness in relationships is all about who wants to control whom. Controlling another person often means a power struggle, dominance and inflicting another lifestyle on the less aggressive person. It leaves the possessive person with constant pangs of anxiety and the need to be on guard. This tension does not give room for ahimsa minded values.
Shrinking space

Very often, possessiveness is mistaken for love. "Thats my way of showing how much I care," said one lady. Nothing kills a good relationship faster than being excessively possessive. When possessiveness takes over, the space between two individuals shrinks until it gets reduced to nothing.

A feisty young woman from a small town came to the city to earn her living. Her distant cousin helped introduce her to city life and her new job. She was a quick learner, and he was happy with how much she had changed. They fell in love. But what should be a wonderful love story changed, as he became possessive and made demands and put limits on her emotions, time and friendships. He became angry when she withdrew from him, as he felt used. Finally after a big argument, she told him what a great teacher and influence he had been and how angry and hurt she was at being treated like his prisoner. He felt sad now that he knew the reason for her resentment. It was not lack of love for him, but his possessiveness that drove her away from him.

Good relationships - whether between friends, spouses or partners - are about nurturing, caring, and loving each other without putting limits on the other. To grow, one needs sincere affection and constant dialogue to make sure they don’t fall into the possessive trap.

How can a possessive himsa person, become ahimsa minded? An easy way is to keep reminding ourselves that our wife/husband/son/friend is not an object but a real person with feelings, hopes and dreams of their own. Learn to listen to their feelings, their hopes and achievements. A man, woman or child who is allowed to grow without fetters or feeling suffocated will truly appreciate the parent, spouse, friend who gave him/her freedom. And instead of moving away from them will only get closer in love. Remember Nelson Mandelas words "That I am not truly free, if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as I am not free if my freedom is taken away from me."

Every ahimsa minded person should read and reflect on the poet Khalil Gibran words. "Let there be spaces in your togetherness,/And let the winds of the heavens dance between you./Love one another, but make not a bond of love:/Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.../Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping."

If you have followed the ahimsa way of life and wish to share your story, please write to the author at www.ushajesudasan,com

Courtesy: The Hindu
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