As I approach four years of my married life, I get goosebumps recalling the roller coaster ride it has been. These years have been everything. Happy, sad, ecstatic and horrific. The tagline ‘and they lived happily ever after’ at times doesn’t come guaranteed to all. Some are fortunate to get an understanding of family and spouse, while others have to labour hard to make things work. All these years have shown me that there is no shortcut to blissful marriages. It becomes such with time. It is often perceived that a marriage based on choice is smooth, but here too the challenges are no less.
Having grown up watching Bollywood romances, I too got married with the assumption of a happy go lucky bride. I dreamt of a perfect situation where everything would be great. Little did I realise that life is not black and white, but uncountable shades of grey.
Today, when I reflect back, I can easily see many mistakes we both did. Unknowingly, together and individually. The biggest of them was to expect things. We both had built up many expectations based on the socially perceived roles within marriage, which we both failed to live up to. I am glad that we failed miserably in what we were not made out to be. I am glad that we both managed to keep our choices and identity intact and not become someone else just for the sake of being accepted.
I have heard many people complain about adjustments, while they still keep doing it. I have never compromised with my choices or routine. I have my friends, my job and space, and so does my spouse. We do not encroach upon each others’ space and nor do we do things just to be politically correct. I rarely hang out with my husband’s friends and don’t expect him to do the same with my friends or relatives. I find it extremely suffocating to force your friends into the life of your spouse. I have till date not understood how and why women leave their friend circle after marriage and become best friends with their partner’s friends. Women should never leave hanging out with their friends. It is a common thing in India. Men on the contrary, never break ties with their friends, which is indeed a healthy way forward for a marriage. It is as important to have family time, as it is to have time for friends and others. For me, it is extremely difficult to make relationships just for the sake of it. I would only call his parents ‘mom’, ‘dad’, or call his friends ‘mine’, only when the relationship develops over the course of time. I totally disagree with this “Hum Saath-Saath Hain” (A totally shitty movie on the Indian family by Sooraj Barjatya) concept of your brother is my brother and your sister is my sister.
To all those men and women who complain that their partners don’t understand them, have you reflected on whether you have communicated effectively? Since every person has a differential capacity to decipher, your message should be clear. I have also observed that many times men fail in understanding the issues but this should not stop you from saying what you feel. As a thumb rule, never settle for what you don’t believe in, whatever it might take. Men in India are usually not socially equipped or nurtured to be considerate and compassionate, which is why the task may seem difficult. Mostly born in traditional families, they will fail to reinvent themselves but it’s never too late to make them realise that the times are changing.
There are women who enjoy being at home. They like cooking and cleaning. I am the type who hates going into the kitchen. I often got to hear comparisons of how our mothers, sisters and aunts have done their family duties. But I always made it a point to stick to what I was. We have always distributed the work equally. Make clear your priorities and limits. There is a huge difference submitting to what you don’t believe and caring for your family. Any relationship which makes me lose myself is not my piece of cake. Be what you are and be unapologetic about it. Easier said than done, but never try to be in the good books of people at the cost of your beliefs. People might not like it initially, but trust me, it pays off well. You will be respected for your honesty.
I have seen many wives becoming like mothers to their husbands. If it does happen to you, stop to ponder if he has ever tried to spoil you as a father. Never indulge too much into the other person. Every relation requires some space. At the same time, little gestures for each other can do miracles. A friend of mine and his wife who were having a tough time in their relationship were advised by their counsellor to make a to-do list of expectations they had from each other. This included small things like talking for half an hour every day. Even if they were travelling or were at home, small gestures like distributing household chores, saying good morning with flowers, etc., really worked wonders for them.
The old age proverb says that money is the root cause of all problems. I agree that it brings happiness in many ways but at the same time, if there is disagreement over finance, it can be fatal. Having learnt this lesson early in life, I have always particular about sharing expenses equally. Whether it be by buying necessities or travel and partying.
Sometimes, I feel disagreeing is difficult. Wouldn’t it have been easier to be and do what everyone expected out of me? I could have easily avoided conflicts and won many hearts. But it would have killed me from within. I wonder why I end up choosing challenges. Something in me always tells me to do my bit, to make life easier for the next generation of girls, to hammer the glass ceiling again and again, so that one day, it breaks on its own!