Friday, November 21, 2014

7 things I have learnt in as many years of marriage

7 wonderful years of togetherness!!
In my last post, which was actually supposed to be this one, I rambled on with my musings on marriage. I am sure there are reams written on marriage. If you looking for practical stuff that I have learnt in my life, this post is for you. 

I am no marriage guru and have just hit the 7 year mark in a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime, apparently. And 7 years isn’t much from that perspective. But yes, I have learnt a few things in these years that will stay with me forever. Stuff that hit at the rosy picture that marriage is made out to be. You might read some of them and say - what nonsense! This doesn't happen anymore! But let me assure you that it does! 

1. Compatibility is a myth. Compromise is the key. I knew my husband for just over a year when I got married to him. The person I knew was this suave and successful guy who swept me off my feet with his charm! But living under the same roof turned out to be a totally different ball game. We were no longer meeting in cafes once in few weeks and did not put our best foot forward! 

The task of having to live with another person from a different brought up, background, preferences, idiosyncrasies, moods, experiences and worldview is no laughing matter. It takes all the patience that you can muster every single day to keep it going. Thats the only way you will make it work. And it doesn’t matter whether you had a love marriage or an arranged one. 

On our first anniversary
2. Marriage is not romantic. Romance is just a tool for mechanical maintenance of the relationship. I know that sounds quite drab! I just mean that the spark that ignites a new relationship is easily put out with time. What sustains the relationship is true love for each other, which may not essentially be romantic. We were so lovey-dovey in the initial months. But very soon real life, work, stress and the business of running life took over. The fact that his work involved insane amount of travel didn’t make things any easier. And then started the maintenance bit. We need to make time and schedule time together. And I mean squeeze whatever time that you can lay your hands on. Social commitments, relatives, bills, laundry - all can wait. It’s very easy to get carried away with mundane things at the cost of quality time. Listen to each other’s favourite tracks. Watch a show in a theatre. Or just stay in your room and catch up with some old fashioned chit chat! (remember to put your phones away and switch the door bell off)

3. You are not one mind, body and soul. My husband loves his gadgets and I love my cosmetics. He listens to a lot of English music and I love my desi Bollywood fare. And these differences are actually interesting. The bedrock of a strong marriage is this freedom to be able to pursue our interests on our own. Spending quality time with each other to reconnect is vital to the survival of the marriage. But that doesn’t always have to be an act of self-effacement. Being on your own at times and pursuing your independent identity is equally important.

4. Find a balance. Where and what needs to be balanced is unique to the couple. Two different individuals are bound to have different views about how things should be done. But since you jointly run the household, it is important to find a balance. Since the woman generally moves into her husband’s house, make efforts to get her comfortable. She may be used to things in a certain way. Give reasons, discuss and ensure each partner has his/her way one time or the other. The way we find balance is to take care of areas we are strong at. For instance, I know about the bills and he makes better travel schedules. 
At NH7 weekender last year

5. Mutual respect and equality shore up the relationship. I have been exceptionally lucky that I am always treated with the utmost respect. We all have rough times. But my better half understands my ups and downs. And more often than not just the process of venting out makes me feel a million times better! Support for each other’s work, hobbies, dreams and aspirations is also pretty critical. I have been blessed to have complete support from my spouse to go out there and do what I dream of! And I have ensured that he could go out and achieve his career goals without having to worry about home. 

In the Indian context, the husband generally has the upper hand and the woman is just expected to fall in line. But with changing times, it is a great thing to see the mindset change. 

6. Don’t compare yourself to others. While we do have frames of reference from our parents’ marriage or from elsewhere, the trajectory of every marriage is unique. The only perfect scenario is what works for the couple. For years, people kept commenting on our erratic schedule. We did not have the conventional routine everyone else had with regular sleep and meal times. We still pretty much suit ourselves! It was tough for me too after having led a regimented life for close to 3 decades of my life. And my mind rebelled at this haphazardness. My attempts at taming our unruly routines just did not work. And gradually I realised - to each his own! Couples with full time jobs have to have a very planned life. But for a work-from-home couple like us, that wasn’t priority. Our life was different with my husband mostly between business travel and me holding the other things in place. 

Aging together! 
7. Marriage is work in progress, always! Yes, there is no happily-ever-after in real life. You just learn to get more at home with each other. But not without constant effort to keep it up. It never just takes care of itself. And if you are really committed to make things work, you will be up to the toil it takes to pull through good and bad times.

Are there more things that you can think of? Feel free to add them in the comments. My marriage is work in progress and I’d love to learn from your views.