MYSURU: With four decades of married life behind her, Manjula Umesh has a handful of tips about how to tide over upheavals in marriage. Add to that her long experience in marriage counselling, and it comes as no surprise that her efforts seem to be behind hundreds of happy homes today.
Manjula (61) has dedicated the past 11 years to counsel married couples who are considering separation or divorce. Her own experiences and lessons that she learned from a personal occurrence involving her son made her become a counsellor to help others facing dilemma over their married life.
Manjula started counselling in 2008 and established Kutumba Rakshana Vedike (Family Counselling Centre) in Mysuru in 2012. She has so far counselled over 500 couples about the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family. In case of irreconcilable relations and imminent divorce, she also tries to find a match for them. She has helped more than 20 divorced women get remarried.
Going down the memory lane, Manjula says, “I was suffering from depression following the divorce of my son in 2007. I overcame it with the help of Dr Boppaiah, the founder of PURE Organisation, who was creating awareness about domestic violence and other related issues. This motivated me to start providing counselling.”
She has not undergone any training. Based on her experience, she gives counselling.On an average, Manjula spends 4-6 hours talking to the couple who approach her.Avani Rao is one such happy person. “It was very difficult for me to adjust to the family in the beginning of my marriage. But counselling helped us,” she says.
Manjula also provides counselling, if required, for family members and tries to unite the families. Talking about how there was a lot of difference of opinion among his family members, J Channappa recalls, “My wife and my mother did not have a good relationship. After counselling, things changed. Now, both of them respect and care for each other.”
Listening attentively to the woes of both the parties is a key to resolving differences, says Manjula, who happens to be the daughter-in-law of R Subbanna, the first mayor of Bengaluru and three-time MLC. “There have been instances when I have sat with them for more than 8 hours. Sometimes, the families start shouting at each other or use physical force. Convincing them to remain calm is the biggest challenge,” she adds, emphasising that if proper care is not given to the individuals, they might fall into depression or become addicted to drugs because of loneliness.
Manjula, who has been married for 46 years, believes divorce is not a solution to problems. “When parents discuss divorce, it hurts children. The younger generation gets angry easily. Young couples should spend quality time with each other amid their busy schedules,” she says.
Causes in point
Manjula takes part in street demonstrations on social issues. Every year, she donates `1 lakh to poor kids studying at a Mysuru school. She has plans to provide food, education, and shelter for kids hailing from the economically weaker section. She has been honoured with several awards. She will be awarded Aryabhatta Award on April 30 in Bengaluru.