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5 Things I Learnt From My Marriage (Work In Progress)

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Marriage is a huge ocean full of fun, frolic, and waves just like our lives with no set rules. There are many things that marriage has taught me, and I wanted to share my views on how to make a marriage work. There may be plenty of rules out there that are all glossy and preachy on how to make the relationship work out the way you want, and while some of them make sense, there are many which are quite irrelevant. I have been married for two years, and there is one thing that makes me and my husband tick. Knowing that there is no standard protocol to make our relationship work. I had known my husband for five years before we got married and there is nothing that changed much post marriage. Having a simple chat with some of my married friends makes me realise how different and complex marriage can turn out to be. It is always best to make and break your own rules as you go along.

Over the years we both have been doing our bit to break some rules with no friction in our marriage. As a wise married woman (no kidding) I have some five rules that have worked for me so far.

1) Never Ever Go To Bed Angry: This is the first mistake that many couples make, and it can turn out to be devastating. It might work out for some people, but as far as my husband Mani and I are concerned, we take a break, possibly shout at each other, take out our steam and come to the solution within 24 hours. Before marriage, we had a slight disadvantage that we were not together in the same city and we resolved our fights over a span of days and the relationship was in tatters most of the times. Our parents too were upset seeing us fight like cats and dogs. We formed a golden rule that we will resolve each misunderstanding before 11 pm the same day. Fighting until 3 am the next morning is not going to help anyone, and we rather have a fight, resolve it, go to bed and wake up with a fresh perspective. However, I also feel that when we always stick to the rule that we must never go to bed angry, it will make us impatient and sometimes we may just agree to end the fight so that we can go to bed. It is better to approach any situation with a clear head and think of the best solution before making it permanent.

2) Date Time Is Also Quite Essential: A date is not necessarily lovey-dovey things, but you can rechristen it as the time that you get to spend together as a couple. I think the concept of dates are highly overrated and the idea of one dinner or a lunch can actually save your marriage is quite far-fetched, to be honest. It is better we do our things our way. I like to dress up a bit, and we go on our movie dates once a month, just the two of us as we both love to binge watch movies. Weekends, too, we like to stay in and watch a movie or two on our couch. If movies or dining out is not your thing, you have to figure out what you both love doing together and embark on that journey. Never cave into the pressures of believing that going out is the only way to have fun. It is just to add a bit of spice to your routine life.

3) Spending Your Free Time Together: Owing to our tight schedules most of the time, my husband and I hardly get our “me” time together. It is extremely important to spend as much time together as you can, and it is also equally important to spend some time away too. Spend the weekend hanging out with each other, but it is also equally important that you give time to other people too. Make sure you go meet your friends, spend some time with your extended family, read a book or take up a hobby together. The main point to be noted here is that you need not feel guilty for wanting some time apart and it in no way will imply that you will love your partner less.

4) Never Let Anyone Else Come In Between Your Marriage: This one thing can make your marriage bitter. So try and keep your pestering family members and gossip-loving friends away from your domestic matters. If you have a recurring problem and need a fresh perspective, then it will help. I often tend to discuss things with my Mom whom I trust to the core and a close friend of mine who gives me clarity as to how to rectify a given situation. While it is quite understandable that I do not let any third person interfere in my marriage when I have a problem it is okay to ask for help and not reveal too much too at the same time. Never discuss every bit of your relationship with someone else and there are many things that need to be kept private too.

5) Put Yourself First: You can call me selfish as I have never quite caught up with the idea of putting one’s partner before everything else. I definitely put him above my friends and relatives but however, at the end of the day, I need to be happy to make the others happy around me. If I have to choose between having my spa time or hanging out with him to watch a cricket match which he absolutely loves, then I will pick the former. Simply because I don’t enjoy cricket as much as he does. We both need our own space at times, and over the years I have learned to let go and not burden my partner with overwhelming expectations.

My husband and me in the Andamans
My husband and I in the Andamans
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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