Sunday, December 28, 2008

What to say after ‘I Do’

Don’t bother reading this, because in all probability, I didn’t write these hurriedly scribbled words of advice for you. And who needs advice anyway… not you. Not unless you just got married, like two of my cousins just did. In that case, you’ll be busy climbing every tree in the vicinity hoping to find the ‘Fruit of Knowledge’, failing which, you might find every bit of advice rather useful… something to hold onto, albeit briefly – just like rocks on a shoreline that give you hope even as the high tide of holy matrimony sweeps you off your feet and into those turbulent waters. Advice, on such occasions, could be your life jacket to the future…

And why am I just the person to dispense it? Well, if I haven’t said this before, let me say it again… We, my bride and I, got married when I was 21. About as soon as I could. And yes… yes… mujhe unme Rabh dikhta hai… except, of course, when she’s screaming at me for leaving my clothes on the floor and my shoes on the bed (tab unme Mom dikhti hain… and what’s worse, it’s not like Mom has stopped screaming either. The baton wasn’t passed, it just gets flung at me... in twos now!). But that isn’t the point. The point is, between all the baton ducking, we’ve managed to find our way through many a marital mire, thanks to a little luck and a lot of love. And now that ‘tis the season for sayin ‘I do’, maybe I could share my learning with those, who, like my cousins, have leapt before they could look, and help you, even as you try to smell the roses through the coffee. And even if you didn’t JUST get married, JUST pretend that you did… it’ll only help…

1. Don’t Believe That Marriage Changes Anything For It Doesn’t Marriage doesn‘t and isn’t supposed to make you more committed, secure, responsible or keep you in love. It’s merely an announcement that two people, because they’re in love or because they believe they might learn to love, have decided to live together. The two of you have to make the marriage work; the marriage can’t work for the two of you.

Just because you’re married, don’t expect too much of each other. Pretend the marriage never happened and you’re just living-in, two souls in love, bound by nothing but love and friendship. And do keep these two bonds alive, and fresh...

2. Your Best Friend’s Wedding Should Also Be Your Own This isn’t about community weddings and nor am I insisting that you marry whoever your best friend happens to be, irrespective of gender. All I’m saying is that you and your partner should grow up to be, if you aren’t already, the best of friends. Romance and lust are like autumn and spring – short beautiful interludes between blazing summers and freezing winters. They’ll surely return, but just as surely, they’ll disappear in the heat and dust of summers or the cold hard truths of winter. Then, what you’d need most is a friend – someone to stand by you, selflessly, without passing judgment. And if your partner can’t be your best friend, he/she will be someone else’s. You mightn’t like that.

Above all, when you’re both old and wrinkled, your greatest joy would be to sit in a garden in the evenings with your best friend, enjoying a cup of tea, a heartfelt conversation and the beautiful sunset…

3. Beware Of The East India Company Syndrome Partners in a marriage, often inadvertently, become imperialists and colonisers. A husband I happen to know, I’m not going to say who, once complained bitterly about how his wife always chooses which side of the bed she’d want to sleep on. That’s cute enough but here’s what made it worse. “Whenever I get out of bed to go to the loo or for water, I’d always return to find the missus sleeping right in the middle of the bed, splayed out at such an angle that the only way I could get some sleep was by hanging on to the edge of the bed, my legs sticking out like sugarcane from one of those heavily loaded tractor trolleys you see on the highway. When I get to office, my sleepless eyes all red and puffy, colleagues elbow me in the ribs, wink and say ‘you don’t seem to be getting much sleep. Way to go, old chap.’ If only the buggers knew…”

This state of mind is rather common amongst newly married couples. The ‘bed’ incident is only a microcosm of a greater malaise. A partner might not even realise when and how he/she intrudes into the other’s space, so much that things become claustrophobically dire for the other. Trying to control your partner who trusts you, inadvertently or otherwise, is akin to betrayal. Guard against this at all costs, for then the relationship dynamics and the friendship will suffer. If ever in doubt, just ask. You’re best of friends, remember…

4. Last but not the least, The Bedroom Brawl Sometimes you could be forgiven for thinking the idea of marriage must’ve been someone’s idea of a cruel joke. A man and a woman have near opposite body rhythms when it comes to ‘getting cosy’, if you’ll pardon the euphemism… You see it’s a bit like the rains and the river. One is programmed to manifest itself in short bursts and a trifle indiscriminately while the other is programmed to stay its course, relatively speaking, and go on and on… and yet they’d die without each other. To cut a long and rather interesting story short, the bedroom offers a couple its greatest challenge because of the physiological, psychological and evolutionary differences which, once surmounted through a bit of educated understanding, could become the bedrock of the relationship. There are other more opportune platforms to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the birds and the bees, but your key words are ‘understanding, patience and passion’. Understanding would take a while coming, so meanwhile be patient and don’t let the wait dim your, or your partner’s, passion.

This isn’t the last word and you will have to swim in these waters on your own, but if this piece keeps you afloat for a while, it would’ve done its bit…Stay in love, stay together and God bless.


“What are the grounds for your divorce?” asked a judge to a woman who’d filed for divorce. She replied, “About four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property.” Jokes apart, alarmingly skyrocketing divorce rates across the world are severely testing the institution called marriage. So, what’s driving this disturbing trend? Well, there’s the familiar ‘seven year itch’ syndrome (biological studies suggest that humans’ preference is to pair for about seven years before changing mates) but here are three of the most leading causes:

INFIDELITY: It is often the symptom of all problems, a physical manifestation of problems elsewhere in the marriage. An affair or a one night stand, it has been cited as overt grounds for divorce in over a third of the cases in the US and some studies indicate it might feature in over half of all failed marriages.

COMMUNICATION: It is an essential for a successful marriage, but the lack of it can happen because of lethargy, suppression of emotions or plain absence of effort leading to frustration, resentment and ultimately the irreparable breakdown of the relationship.

COMPATIBILITY: ‘Made for each other’ can quickly become a nightmare, if wedges are driven between couples because of their incompatibility (and possibly detrimental competition) on the professional and consequently financial fronts.


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