With my most recent blog ‘empty nest’, I got an opportunity to understand relationships deeply, especially the institution of marriage. Through this write-up let me take you back to the time when we all started our married life and how our relationship took on new dimensions.
Everyone goes through the honeymoon stage in their marriage where attraction and romance create a bond between couples. While this is short-lived, say about two years, they also develop mutual trust and emotional intimacy which holds up their relationship for years to come.
As they move further, the honeymoon ends and you realize your spouse is not a good cook, leaves behind a wet towel on the bed, and does not lift the toilet seat. There are conflicts while trying to explain to each other your needs and wants. In the middle of all this, most of us have children too. This is a life-changing event, especially for women. Many a time they leave their career behind, are no longer able to catch up with their friends as they did in the past or pursue their hobbies. With time, the house gets bigger, there are loans to be paid, investments to be handled, health to be taken care of and above all children to be raised. This stage is more like a business where you must cooperate till your parenting responsibilities are reduced, your mortgage is paid, and you are financially settled. There is little time left for them as a couple.
Now that same relationship which was once upon a time exciting stagnates and gets boring because, for years, they have focused their energies on fulfilling the family’s needs. By this time most of the children move out to make their careers. Women who are working still have something to look forward to but the ones who are homemakers have so much time to their disposal. Rather than thinking, what to do with your lives at that point of time, I think it is important we think about it at the initial stages of our relationship and come to an understanding that one day we will be left to live our lives with each other, children would visit us like guests. Don’t you think it’s important to nurture our relationship rather than building a crack and then trying to fix it after years.
At the same time, I have seen a few couple who have put in a lot of effort to keep the love alive and do exciting things together.
Me and Rahul are two different people and none of us is perfect. I am sure there is something about me that annoys him and vice versa. At the same time, we learnt it early in our life to accept each other the way we are, and we have never tried to change each other. I don’t recollect we have spent all our spare time together. We have done our own things and come back to share our experiences with each other.
A few days ago, I was talking to an old friend. She said, ‘every day by 9 pm my husband gets back from his office to a spotless house and a healthy meal prepared by me. He likes good food, and it makes him happy said my friend who has a master’s degree in Math’s and for whom her most prized position is that of a homemaker. While l love being involved in everything that my daughter does and support my husband, this job is always not fulfilling. It does get lonely with my daughter growing and having her own commitments. Moreover, after having dinner, to unwind, he likes to catch up with his friends and is back by mid night. By then I am half asleep and he is also too tired to spend time with me.’ Even though she did not say, I understood, they were not connected, she was not included anywhere, and she does not know what to do to keep herself busy. The only piece of advice I could give her was to connect to things for which she has stopped making time. I am sure with this she will find her own happiness and she won’t feel low when her busy partner gets home.
One couple, I always admired was my ex-colleague and his wife. I have closely seen the work they do daily to have a successful marriage and balance high-powered careers. They prioritize spending time together be it at the gym or driving to the office in the same car. I have seen, that their successful career and the exciting workplace has not distracted either of them and they strongly believe in a good work-life balance. It’s hard to quantify the time a couple should spend together to have a thriving marriage. I think the quality is also crucial even if it means holding conversations that will help the partner move ahead in the career.
Another couple that always impressed me was the one who recently celebrated their golden jubilee. I have seen them closely in my growing-up years. He appreciated every small thing she did for his parents, relatives, friends, and pet dog. He put the effort in making his partner feel special and wanted. Nothing has changed with time, and I still see him admiring her and listening to her plans and dreams. It’s not that they never disagree to things, but they know how to respect each other’s differences with dignity. While they take care of each other’s physical challenges of aging, they have still not stopped snuggling.
Over years, I have understood there is no ‘one size fit’ all strategy that will make happy couples. It is all dependent on how strong your desire is to make the relationship work and how much effort are you willing to put in for that. Go out and do things together than watching TV, show your affection in public depending on your partners comfort level, if your partner has set a goal to lose weight, encourage them. Even if you have grown old, complement each other for their looks and smartness. Give them a surprise, you don’t need to spend much. A red rose or an ice cream post-dinner will serve the purpose. Listen to your partner’s needs, take interest in their interests, be considerate when you plan something, keep the phone down and give undivided attention. When there is a need to say ‘I am sorry, don’t hold yourself back. Don’t stop caring about how your appearance, exercise, groom, dress well and go on date nights. If you feel your partner is not doing enough, talk to them in a loving and non-judgmental way. And, if you find it hard to do by yourself, talk to a professional who can help you navigate through these difficult moments.I would like to convey my best wishes to every married person who gets inspired today to build once again a new life together. Someone rightly said, ‘A great relationship doesn’t happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building the love in the end.