I monitor 12 listening & discussion groups in Kapilvastu District…when I visit these groups, most of the members share similar stories of changes which have taken place in their lives. For example…husbands have started helping their wives with the housework…couples have realized that wives should be involved in financial decisions …effective communication (has increased) so that listening as well as empathy plays an important part and couples are seen working together, which never used to happen in the past. Due to these changes, the members come and tell me that their relationship has improved a lot and they are much happier at home.

Another significant change that has taken place is in the sexual relationship between the couples. The couples have shared that they are talking openly about sex after listening to episodes on the radio where sex and sexuality was discussed. Husbands have told me that their wives have started initiating sex which never happened in the past. Many of the members didn’t even know that women could experience an orgasm… When this topic was raised during the weekly discussion, many members asked if it were true and told the facilitators that they didn’t know that women could get pleasure from sex . There was a common misconception that sex was something that was only pleasurable for men. Now, after listening to the program, the husbands are more mindful about the emotions, feelings and desires of their wives. Sexual consent is another important aspect of the sexual relationship and has been another very important and significant learning for the members.

Many members have also shared that they knew that being physical with someone was violence but they were unaware about emotional or sexual forms of violence. They tell me that they have been abusive towards their wives unknowingly by being rude to them or by using a harsh tone while speaking to them. They were behaving in such a way towards their wives without realising that they were mistreating their wives. Coming to the program has definitely made them more aware of their behavior towards their wives and many have been making changes to stop such (negative) behavior.

This project has not only influenced the facilitators and the members, it has also been very influential for me and my relationship with my wife. When we were talking about including wives in financial matters, I realized that even I don’t practice that. I used to keep all my earnings with me and have my wife use her income for household purposes. But when we were discussing the financial sharing between husband and wife, then it made me realize that I had been unfair to my wife. These days we discuss all our financial matters and my wife has access to my bank accounts as well.

The program has also helped me with my anger management. I didn’t realize that by talking harshly with my wife or by getting angry at her, I was emotionally violating her. This program has helped me with better communication skills and taught me about empathy, which has helped me to improve my relationship with my spouse as well as others. Me and my wife listen to the program together. Now these days, if I raise my voice  with my wife, she teases me saying that “you run the ‘Samajhdari’ (Mutual Understanding) program and this is how you treat your wife?”…at moments like those I can hardly say anything but laugh about it!

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