Our Stories: Madhuri and Martin
Madhuri and Martin are sharing their story together as husband and wife. After everything they have been through, they would like to be an example to others. They look forward to the future together and care more about the power of their testimony than the repercussions on their reputation.
Madhuri and Martin had a “love marriage”, meaning they chose to get married without their parents arranging any of it. They met and fell in love in university. Like most couples, they didn’t think that love would change after marriage. Martin went on to be the kind of husband he saw modeled by his father, suggested in movies, and advised by his friends. He says these third party involvements made a huge impact on him.
Martin’s mother is a government officer with a very respectable and influential position. Yet, his entire life Martin saw his father control his mother’s every movement. She wasn’t allowed to leave the house without his father’s permission. Every small decision she needed to make must be first checked by her husband. She lived life complete by his terms and was subject to both verbal and physical abuse. This, to Martin, is what husbands did. Real men controlled their wives and acted suspiciously of their movements.
At work, in movies and TV shows, and through his friends stories Martin became familiar with the idea that women were unfaithful to their husbands. He became sure that if a woman was given too much freedom, she was prone to finding men outside the house with whom to be unfaithful to her husband. So he didn’t let Madhuri work, and he questioned everything she did. Because she was the kind of girl to have fallen in love in college, he accused her of being the kind of woman who would fall in love with other men if she was let out of the house too often.
As pressure at work mounted, Martin began taking out his frustrations on Madhuri. She would face embarrassing and violent episodes, and over time she began to feel defeated. She couldn’t go anywhere because she had two daughters to look after.
After 14 years of building abuse, things came to a peak. Madhuri couldn’t take it any more and left her house for the police station. She gave a petition then went to stay with her parents without telling Martin where she was. This is the moment Martin describes as his “blast” or reality check. He didn’t know what he would do without his wife. He couldn’t imagine life without her. He felt scared and sorry.
All domestic violence cases brought to the police require 3 mandatory counseling sessions prior to the case being filed. My Choices is the Secunderabad Police’s counseling partner on these cases. So when Madhuri walked in for counseling, she met My Choices’ Counselor, Pearl Choragudi. This step of taking courage and taking a stand was Madhuri’s turning point. There was no going back to the quiet, defeated woman she had lived as for 14 years.
Fortunately, when Madhuri came to Martin to ask him to come for counseling he took it positively! “Relationships are a process, you won’t make it in one day”, says Martin, “Fighting isn’t good… you must find the changes!” Martin realizes that he took his wife for granted for 14 years. He says, “I thought, once you’re married where will she go?” speaking of his thoughts about Madhuri not being able to leave no matter what he did.
Martin recognizes that he displaced his insecurities, fears, and frustrations on to his wife. He says “you must accept your mistake, and look to the future and hope.” His core irrational beliefs, my “musts, should and have to’s” were challenged and replaced by rational beliefs. What excites Martin the most is the idea of a new future. He points out the revelation that there is love after marriage, not just before.
Now, Madhuri is in software courses prepping her to enter the workforce. Martin, who is only too excited to encourage change, pushes her to do new things outside the house all the time. Together, they have made the choice to send their two daughters to co-ed school so that they learn to handle themselves around boys. They are teaching them to be assertive, and stand up for themselves.
When asked what she would like people everywhere to know, Madhuri says: “Be courageous! Don’t take abuse lying down. Assert yourself at the outset so you don’t waste even a single day of your life! Asserting yourself is just standing up and opening a dialogue that must be opened to bring understanding. Above all, men, respect your wives! Give them the value they deserve!”
Specifically Martin would like to say to all men: “Don’t waste the future! Don’t be influenced by others. Just love and respect your wife. Strive for respect and understanding and don’t be afraid of change. It’s a process, and good a relationship requires change.”