Sunday, December 26, 2010

Long Marriages

Long marriages

When a friend’s grandparents celebrated 50 years of their marriage, there was no big party or a fancy exchanging of vows. It was a simple affair. All the family members (the ones that really cared) came together and they had a lovely get together to commemorate the coming of two much loved souls. Two souls who were never perfect for each other, but stuck it out…during happy days and sad ones, angry days and sulky ones.

Grandfather was moody and prone to bursts of terrible rage, my friend being at the receiving end many times and grandmother was much ahead of her times in her thinking and even broke many protocols by working as a teacher, then as a principal of a school and even getting a PhD. Sadly she was never really ‘appreciated and understood’ for who she really was, because grandfather wanted someone to only cook and look after him and the children, like most men of his generation.

When my friend asked her grandmother, “Ajji 50 years, but how did you stick on? You being you?” She replied, “The secret lies in laughing. Nowadays I see so many young couples going to marriage counselors only few years into their marriage or even divorcing without giving the marriage some time. You should give each other time. And I think people take this marriage thing too seriously. Take it lightly. Even when your grandfather used to make fun of my ambitions, I accepted it lightly and told myself that it’s the way he is. It doesn’t mean that the marriage worked because I tried and changed my outlook, even your grandfather did his bit. He worked on his anger and chipped in to look after the kids, because his wife worked too -- something very few men of his generation did.”

And when my friend asked her grandfather about the long marriage, he gave a short laugh and replied in a few words, “I took a wow before god that I would look after her. And that’s what I’m doing.” Simple.

I’m closing in on six years of my marriage and time has slipped by like a dream. It’s a milestone worth celebrating. We’ve both changed in many ways to adjust to each other even as we continue to love and respect each other.

So, what do you think is the secret of long marriages?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Is Our Society Child Friendly?

Before I had my child, I had read and heard about the sacrifices new parents have to make for the just-arrived member in the family. And I always thought that people made too much of a deal about it, after all, how could you grudge, deny time or even get bugged about such a cute little new member. And my philosophy was quite simple and straightforward – first show them who’s boss and then just integrate them in your adult life.

Needless to say, a LOT of my thinking changed when my daughter arrived. Nothing, nothing could’ve prepared me for the sacrifices! Of course when you are 60 and you look back, sacrificing a couple of years will not seem as big a deal, but when you are in the middle of your time, steeped in your career, finding your groove in the larger scheme of things, it does seem like a big deal. But that’s for another blog. This blog is about children and how I feel our society is increasingly becoming intolerant of them.

To begin with, our shifting attitude towards children. The Indian society, where children were a natural consequence of marriage, is giving way to couples who are postponing and even deciding not to have children. “Too much responsibility”, “They’ll ruin our freedom”, “Financial burden”, or “Later, not now”, when later never really happens.

At a recent party, which also had several chidlren, a lady told me, “There’s just too much noise and running around when it comes to children. I find it very disturbing.” And one frustrated parent told me that a school denied her child admission because she was born in a certain month, which made her ineligible through age! “Do I have to start planning children based on which school I want them to study in?!” She exclaimed.

And maybe, just maybe all this is leading to our civic and extended society, not considering children in the larger scheme of things. How else would your explain shrinking open spaces for children and adults alike to enjoy or the poorly managed parks? Or the fact that there are not enough movies that are suitable for chidlren. A friend of mine recently complained to me how her weekend movies have been drastically curtailed, because many of the movies were not appropriate for children – to vulgar with crass jokes, she explained. Most restaurants are not child-friendly, have you noticed how they bump into the corner of the table! The places are cramped and kids begin to get cranky quickly, ruining what you thought would be lovely evening spent with friends. And even if you take them to a friend’s place for dinner (who you’ll find out later do not have a child-friendly house), you are more worried about what they’ll ruin – maybe spill something on the plush sofa or the ‘expensive’ carpet or scribble on the wall, that you are far too worried to really enjoy the evening! The ubiquitous malls and shopping centers are definitely not child-friendly, despite the ‘fun centers’ --- for one, the crowd really puts them off and once they sense you’re shopping, their tantrums begin!

So where do you take your kids, here I am talking about places where you both can enjoy as parent and child and how do you integrate them into your so-called adult world, even as people and spaces begin to show their intolerance?

Have you experienced intelorance towards children? Share your experience.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Deeper Connection

I think sex is overrated. I mean I know how important it is in our lives and all that, but I think it’s getting more than its fair share of importance in society today. Even around a decade back it was a hush-hush topic met with shy smiles, lowered eye-lids and rose-tinted cheeks, but in today’s generation a simple act of crossing legs or licking lips has taken on a whole new meaning.

It’s a sexually charged society that we live in and I think marriages need to go beyond that.
Ok, admit that sex plays an anchor-like role in a marriage, but there’s so much more to a marriage than sex alone, so many tactile things that give you quiet satisfaction and send a wave of warmth through the body. While for men, it’s the closest they feel to their spouse, it’s not the same with women always, who fake interest and even orgasms to satisfy their husbands, whom they love. But for a more satisfying and deeper relationship, couples need to be tuned to each other’s needs, know what brings on that soft purr of contentment, makes you sigh with deep satisfaction or fills your heart with warm love. Here are some ways to get you closer and make that deeper connection:

A hug a day

An act of a few seconds, but packed with a whole lot of meaning, a hug says what a hundred words can’t. It gives reassurance just to feel each others heart beats and soft breaths as you lock in embrace. A powerful way to express love and to show how much you care.

A shoulder massage

Nothing like getting a massage after a hard day’s work. Soft hands kneading your over-stressed shoulders can be wonderful feeling. Also an act that says ‘I know and appreciate all the hard work you’re doing and here’s my way of acknowledging and repaying it’.

A foot scrub

A few minutes in warm water and a foot massage can rejuvenate you in an instant.
Do it for your spouse and see their eyes light up.
Run your fingers through hair
While sitting and watching your favorite show, just run your fingers through your spouse’s hair like a large tooth-comb. A soothing feeling that’ll make your spouse settle back with a deep sigh of satisfaction.

Look into my eyes

“I hate it when I talk to my husband and he continues to watch TV or go through the newspaper while saying ‘I’m listing, go on.’” My friend used to tell me. It’s annoying and disrespectful. Mute the sound, put down the newspaper or the gardening tool or whatever else you are doing and make eye-contact with your spouse when he or she is talking. It adds ever so much to a relationship. It says I respect you and what you are saying.

Do small physical acts play a role in your relationship? Share them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Changing Man?

In my last post I talked about what men want; in this post my friends ask myself, ‘But where are the MEN?’ I mean, where are the ‘men’ men? Really!

As teenagers we all fantasized the bulging bicep guy -- who bragged about lifting logs, with rough rugged looks – the likes of handsome Afghans maybe, and a careless swagger – like the eye-patched pirates. One would dream of being swept off my feet in his strong, yet caring arms, and revel in the ‘safe-from-the-word’ feeling.

Now as a wiser and less dreamy 30-something they all look around and don't see anyone.
Where are the machos? Where are the MEN? Suddenly they’ve turned into these mushy and sensitive guys.

As I dug deeper into this subject, I found out that men are becoming so called ‘feminine’ owing to a combination of several factors. The most important one being the liberalization of women and the fact that women don’t necessarily look for masculinity in a man these days. With women breaking the glass ceiling in many spheres as well as enjoying financial security (by their own means and hard work) women have stopped looking for the erstwhile qualities, read masculinity, money and the security it brings with it. What they look for in men include child-rearing qualities, as support to their emancipation as well as a man who can be useful around the house and support their wife’s ambitions.

The Wall Street Journal in an article titled: "Why Women Don't Want Macho Men" says that "Women are no longer reliant on a man's genes or jobs to ensure the health and wealth of their children, women may come to value other qualities in a mate. It may become evolutionarily adaptive to prefer men who are co-operative, communicative, caring and better parents over traditional 'manly men."

So…what do you guys think?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What Men Want

It’s so hard to find a Man these days. A man-man you know?! Exclaimed a young friend of mine. She’s been dating for a while, but things haven’t yet ‘settled’ for her. So what is it you’re looking for? I ask her. Tall, handsome, strong. Someone who’s not afraid of crying, someone who really, ‘understands’ me. Someone who’s macho, but at the same time who can cook and look after the kids and hold me when I cry while am watching Serendipity without feeling awkward! She trailed off…

A rather tall order! I thought to myself. My friend apart, it got me thinking about what men really want. And here’s what I could come up with.

Mama’s boys. They are not called mama’s boys for nothing. Macho as they would like to portray themselves, men look for motherly qualities in women, and if something resembles their own mother, then they’ll definitely go for the relationship.
On the same note, men like femininity. But not necessarily the women who walk on the ramp, and are stick thin. They like a woman who can look sensuous in a sari or the slight ding dong swishes when a woman walks by.

Men like it short and sweet. We all know how different the two sexes are when it comes to emotions. They like to play it direct and in as little words as possible, while women tend to make it really, really complicated. It’s just that they’re wired that way. So if you want to sustain a relationship, keep all the raving and ranting and the tears for the all-girls’ party, and play it simple and direct with your man (that’s the language he understands best).
Women tend to look for a man who can ‘support’ them. It’s no different for a man, even though they might show otherwise. Women who support their man in his career, in his behavior or on any of his activities are more likely to sustain a strong relationship.

Men need to feel secure and want commitment. Experiences in your dating life might have been different. You see men changing girlfriends as quickly as their shirts. But when they are ready to settle down, they look for commitment. They want to share a home, a life.

Men don’t want to be alone. It’s a basic human tendency. We all need someone to be there for us, to love us, support us and take care of us. Despite their egos and what nots, deep down, they don’t want to be alone.

In my next post I’ll discuss the ‘changing man’.

But for now, tell me what you think men want. And I would love to hear from the MEN!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Can Women Have it All?

Modern Indian women have it all. Or so you would think. They have a multitude of career doors opening for them like never before; they have a slowly but surely liberalizing societal system, which doesn’t frown upon love or inter-caste marriages with as much furrows as it did before – so they can choose the man of their dreams; they have an extended family to fall back on in case of help (parents, in laws, or maybe slightly more extended families) despite opting to go nuclear in some cases; they have agencies (some reliable and some maybe not) to help them get all sorts of supplementary help through cooks, drivers, maids, part-time full time hired help and etc, and mushrooming day care centers. With such a support system, you would think Indian women indeed have it all.

And yet, over the years I have seen so many discontented women, broken dreams, guilt-ridden mothers, stressed-and-depressed career women and I’ve wondered where lay the problem. I’ve known successful career women sick to the pits about a bawling baby in a maid’s arms back at home. I’ve known women who have abandoned lucrative careers for the sake of their children, and feeling guilty about “just sitting at home”. I’ve known women in their late thirties spending thousands in fertility clinics and lamenting the fact that they didn’t stop their career juggernaut to have babies, or were too scared to take on the responsibilities. I’ve known mothers struggling with freelance careers in the hope of having it all, but unsatisfied at having ‘nothing’. And I’ve known women who seem to have it all – a fantastic career, wonderful children, and a lovely home, and are so stressed by it all, that given an option, they would take a completely different path!

So where is the problem?

I think it lies in choices and more importantly in compromises. Women while indulging in their dreams forget that they have to make compromises, right from the time they enter into a relationship to when they get married and have children. And they forget that they have to make hard choices, keeping in mind these compromises and most important of all to be happy or teach oneself to be happy with their choices -- compromise-ridden as they might be -- and whether their own or sometimes meted out to them. And above all, not to fret over the ‘what could’ve beens’ because in reality there are no such things, or compare yourselves to other women, because every women and every situation is different.

As to the question if women can have it all, maybe Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce answered it best with, “You can have it all, but you can't have it all at the same time."

What has been your experience? Do you think women can have it all?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Budget In a Marriage

Budgeting, like dieting is something that all of us definitely want to do, because we like the result of it, and also know that it is good for us, but somehow can’t really get down to it, as we get tempted and sidetracked by many other attractions or are simply lazy. But believe me when I say that budgeting is really key to financial health, financial success and financial well-being. And when you get down to it, you’ll find that it is not all that difficult or mind-numbing. And the beauty of it lies in the fact that you jointly get to decide what you want to do with your financial resources and achieve your dreams.

Paper, pen and calculator

First things first. Urge your partner to find time and sit down with pen, paper and calculator and get to work. If you prefer something fancier, you could try out an excel sheet or even perhaps the many budgeting software options on the net. But either way, get down to it. Make the broad categories of fixed household expenses and the odd ones that keep occurring. If you get into too much detail, you might find yourself bogged down by the book-keeping, and if you make too broad categories you might find your money going down a blackhole. So make sure that you find some sort of balance, and don’t forget the smaller stuff, because at the end of the tally, they might be the real culprit for some gaping mismatch in numbers! And if you harbor big dreams -- whether it is building / buying your dream house, going on a dream vacation or the need to spend on an expensive hobby, factor it in and work backwards to see how you can achieve it.
Whether you want to keep a joint account or separate account for your expenses is left to you, but make it clear about who is going to chip in how much and how you really want to structure your financial resources. For this, communication and trust are vital.

Communicate and trust

During all this exercise, it’s vital to keep communication channels open and to trust your better half that he/she is keeping the end of the bargain to maintain the budget. If, on a shopping stint you feel like splurging on something expensive, before you swipe that card, make sure you call your spouse and tell him / her about it, so you can make a joint decision, instead of regretting the impulse later or getting into arguments. If at some point you feel that your wife is spending more for household expenses than a previous month, instead of doubting or distrusting, ask her why.Through this, you will be faithful to your budget as well as build on a relationship rooted in trust. And if you find that your spouse is getting wayward, help him / her stick to it.

Help each other to stick to it

It’s thrilling when we embark on something, especially with a partner, but six months down the line, you might find that it’s not that exciting anymore. It’s the same with a budget, especially ones that come with hard choices. And ever so often, you might find yourself throwing up your hands and saying, “It’s not worth all the trouble,” or just go with your feelings at that point of time. This is when it’s crucial that you support each other and resolve to stick by your plans and commitment.

Like many things in a marriage, budgeting plays an important role that will help you in more ways than you can imagine. It will help to build, and work on trust, open communication, partnership and joint responsibility.

And through this, above all, you’ll be financially secure!

Share your savings story with us

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Circle of Love

Here's a toast to friends..
Congratulations to Shrinath who is tying the knot with Sudha on August 27th.

And Ani ,whose found love and taking the plunge with Hiten on August 28th in Mumbai.
Am sure gonna miss your wedding gal!

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. ~Michael Leunig

The circle of love

The engagement. It is a significant and beautiful moment in a couple’s life as they prepare themselves for a bond that will last a lifetime. And at the center of this ceremony is the most important physical element --- the ring, the symbol of promised togetherness for a lifetime. It’s not just a ring. It’s a circle of love. And it means different things to different people.

A promise. It comes in various designs, shapes, sizes and colors, but at the heart of it all, it symbolizes a promise. A promise to stand by your loved one and knowing that your partner will be there for you in return. It gives you a sense of security, because deep down, you know there is a shoulder to lean on in difficult times and that you will play the role of a support, when your loved one needs you. It’s a powerful promise and one that is for keeps.

A circle of life. Like every circle, the ring tells the tale of happiness and sorrow. Like the many cycles in our lives, there will be happy times at the end of sad ones and sad times after happy ones. It is the circle of life, and we cannot escape it. But having that ring on your finger gives you the strength to face the gyrations of life because you know you are not alone; there is someone to celebrate the happy times and share the sad ones. And that alone gives you that little extra courage to face whatever life throws at you with a smile.

Feeling loved. You might be in the midst of the most ordinary chores, perhaps doing the dishes or straightening up your place or perhaps deep in work and suddenly you notice the ring on your finger and a slow smile lights up your face. You know somewhere out there, is a person who loves you and wants to spend the rest of his or her life with you and the most beautiful part is that you reciprocate the feeling. You sigh and wonder how such a brief and seemingly insignificant moment of looking at your ring could brighten up your day in such a beautiful way! Such is the power of the ring.

And then you finally tie the knot, and the wedding band is placed on your finger. Important and significant as that might be, you continue to feel a strong sense of connectedness and belonging when you look at your engagement ring, because it was the first symbol of a sweet beginning…

So what is your engagement ring story? What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fitness in your relationship!

In a previous blog, ‘Build a marriage that helps you both grow’, I had mentioned that doing an activity together is a great way to bring both of you closer and create a beautiful bond that you will come to cherish. Well, one such activity is be fitness – it does not mean that you sign up for a gym right away, it could mean taking dance classes together, going on hiking and trekking trips regularly, getting on a bike, jogging in the neighborhood park or even buying a DIY fitness CD and sweating it out! You don’t need to spend the stipulated 1 hour, which for some might be too tiring, doctors and fitness experts recommend a good 30 minutes workout every day is good enough for health and happiness.

We all know how important fitness is in our lives, and yet we forget, are too lazy, find excuses or simply do not have the time to make it a daily part of our lives. Even if we do, it lasts for a couple of weeks and then fitness takes a backseat once again.

The benefits of exercise
Yes, yes, we all know that exercises are good for us. Even if you do, I would like to reiterate it here, even at the risk of sounding redundant, because I want to emphasize how IMPORTANT it really is. Physical activity also gives a workout to your brain, leaving you happier and more relaxed. Exercises manage your weight, improve your mood, keep diseases at bay, boost your energy levels in the long run, help you sleep better, and also bring a spark to your sex life! Fitness also gives you a toned and ‘fit’ look, boosting your self-esteem and making you more attractive towards your partner.

Make fitness a priority
And yet, we find it hard to get off our ass! We love to find excuses ranging from the weather, to ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘Gyms are too far’ and what nots. But seriously, if I were to ask you to look hard into your day, is it really that difficult to find a 30 minute slot in your day? Of course not! Whether you are a morning person or prefer to exercise in the evening, find a time slot that suits you both and make it a priority in your life. Even if it so happens, that you are a morning jogger and your partner likes to hit the gym in the evening, do it in your time, but encourage each other and support each other in your fitness routine.

Above all, make sure that that time slot is for your fitness routine only, and don’t allow snoozing, coffee with friends, shopping sprees, or any other excuses to creep into that time slot. Would you allow any the above excuses to eat into your office time or any other activity that your consider priority? No! Keep the same set of rules for your fitness too. Because it is priority! Well, it’s going to be from now!

Make it fun
Frankly, working out a regimented routine day in and day out might get boring and even cause muscle fatigue. So, pepper your weekly fitness regime with some fun activities on a regular basis. Throw in a cycling trip, a couple of lap races in the pool, a game of tennis or badminton to break the monotony that might creep in. Remember fitness is not a form of torture, it should be fun! It should be motivating! And it’s a great way of bringing your closer to your partner!

I'd like to hear what you have to say about the role of exercise and fitness in your relationship

Monday, July 26, 2010

Of Girls’ Night Outs and Beer Buddies!

As much as I like spending quiet nights in great companionship or sometimes, a romantic evening and even sometimes ahem….you know what, I also like to take a break from my spouse for an all-girl night out once in a while! I love my ‘girl’ friends and I think it’s necessary to invest my time in their friendship. Spouses are great, (and can make great friends too), but so are friends. And I don’t think you should sacrifice one for the other. It’s true marriage changes your social life in a significant way, but friends are for keeps too! I love a good night of sheer nonsense gossip maybe, or some cerebral discussions or even to share something that’s been worrying me so I get a different perspective.

Guys have their beer buddies and love to spend time with their own sex, there’s something about gender camaraderie which the other sex can never really get right. One of the inequalities or maybe the equalities of life? But certainly a reality. To be respected and given its due.
What do you say?

So next time you feel like you need time out, talk to your spouse in advance and head for your favorite joint with your best girl friends or organize a quick beer-buddy get together at a pub. And don’t feel guilty about neglecting your spouse! It’s normal and even healthy for the relationship.

When was the last time you had a time with your girl friends or beer buddies?
And how did it feel?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Build a marriage that helps you both grow

It’s worthwhile to introspect on your marriage from time to time and ask honest questions like, “Am I feeling suffocated in this relationship?” “Am I growing as person?” “Am I giving my spouse scope for growth?” Being frank and honest while examining these questions will go a long way in helping you assess the true worth of your relationship as well as give each of you an opportunity to set things on the right path.

A marriage that gives you no scope to grow might as well be dead. As human beings, we are not meant to ride on a treadmill like lab rats, deceived by the motion that is not actually getting us anywhere. We need to progress, we need grow, we need constantly learn, we need to thrive and feel alive. A relationship which gives you all of that is worth all its weight in gold.

Here are some ways to help your marriage grow and in turn help you both grow in positive and fruitful ways.

Show love: Once the initial lovey-dovey phase has worn out, we tend to take each other for granted and even forget to show how much we truly love and care for our partner. Make sure that you hug each other every day or call each other during the day or when you are out at work, it shows that you really care. And infuse your relationship with passion, something that we tend to neglect once we get caught up with our work and other commitments in life – a quick, romantic weekend getaway, a candle-lit dinner, a walk in the park hand-in-hand.

Cultivate a hobby together:
Don’t restrict your time together to only for watching TV shows or sitting together for a quick bite at breakfast. You might have similar or even different interests; if it is the latter, the stronger the reason to cultivate a hobby together. Through this you will discover each other in different aspects, at the same time investing your time in learning something new, fruitful and satisfying. It could be exercising, dancing, bird-watching, pottery or even reading aloud.

Respect each other:
Differences are bound to be there, there will be opinions and opinions, but as long as you respect each other and openly allow and respect that your spouse can have a view totally different, you won’t get too caught up or taken by the fights that ensue. You don’t need to be sacrificial or too territorial about your views; it’s healthy to have differing opinions, and yet at the end of it know that you love and respect your spouse.

Give each other space: Respect and give room to your spouse for his / her other activities, which could be spending time exclusively with or indulging in a hobby that you might not have interest in. It’s important that you give each other that space and time.

Be friends: There’s nothing like have a spouse who is your friend. No matter how your relationship has started, either through passion or through an arranged marriage, there is always time to develop a bond of friendship with your spouse, to be there for your partner, to support and show that you truly care, like you would for a friend.

In what ways has your marriage grown? In what ways have you grown with your marriage?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stages of a relationship

Shakespeare described the seven stages of man beautifully in his famous poem, similarly every relationship goes through its own set of stages, some relationships tend to skip a stage or two, but all of them typically go through them in some form or another. But unlike Shakespeare’s clearly demarcated stages, the stages in a relationship might not be so clear-cut and defined, and many times they happen so gradually and at a subconscious level, that they are almost imperceptible, and sometimes they can also revert to previous stages. But stages, they definitely go through.

The hunky-dory stage
Also referred to as the honeymoon stage, this is the heady stage when you fall in love with your partner, and everything seems hunky-dory, a stage when you whisper sweet nothings and gaze into each other’s eyes unmindful of other onlookers. This is for some the best stage in a relationship, because you are not really worried about the things that will crop up later and even if you do, you have the conviction that “love will conquer all” because your heart is full of hope for a rosy future.
Alas, like all good things this stage too will come to end, sometimes it can take a few weeks and even sometimes a year or two. But eventually it is not self-sustaining however much you would’ve thought it would be when you initially fell in love. And so you slowly slip into the next stage.

The “reality” stage
The “realistic” stage. A stage when things come down from the so called plane of love to sometimes “harsh” reality. In this stage, you slowly begin to see your partner for what he or she really is – with the positive and negative traits. You might have noticed them in the previous stage, but you always thought love would change him / her – love conquers after all. And when you see that it doesn’t change as easily, arguments erupt, fights break out or you might slip into moodiness or simply withdraw into your own shell as a form of punishment towards your partner.
In this stage the emotionally mature person has a stronger task at hand and will come out as the pillar of the relationship. But if the other person refuses the support, things will begin to get rocky. In this stage it’s important to lay issues out, to talk out openly and maturely and see how the differences can be sorted out.

“What next?” stage
If you’ve managed to tide over the previous stage as two mature individuals and ones who have vowed to rough it out and have sorted out differences, you might enter the stage sometimes also known as “dead zone”. This is the stage when you feel nothing really happens – after the heady love phase and the tempestuous “reality” stage, you enter a dull phase. Usually by now, several years have passed and maybe children have robbed you of your time together. You might still love the person, but the intensity might have diminished and many times there could also develop – subconsciously -- an emotional disconnect.
If this is led to continue for an extended period of time, it might even lead to one of those couples who live a domestically peaceful life, but one that is devoid of any true connection. Some partners seeking something more meaningful might even decided to go seek it elsewhere. On the other hand if you identify this stage for what it represents – the end of the relationship, you can work together to get out of it to get back the spark in your relationship.

True partners

You know you’ve entered this stage when you complement each other in a positive way, truly accept and also respect each other for who you really are, especially in the light of all the stages you’ve been through before. There are times when you might revert to any of the previous stages, but at the same time you also have the confidence that you can overcome them, because you’ve been there before. But come what may, in this stage, you also have the conviction that you are in it together as a team and as true life partners in good times and bad times.

When you look back into the story of your own relationship, can you recognize these stages and how you dealt with them? And where do you think your relationship stands now?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things I Wish I Knew Before Marriage

In my years as a match-maker of sorts I have come across many people who expect a lot from marriage and a pretty disappointed a few years down the line or even lesser. People who enter thinking of roses and chocolates are disillusioned when they find out that marriage is also about thorns and bitter pills.

Through my experience of getting and keeping two souls together I have learned a couple of things and would like to share them with you.

People change; People don’t change

This is conflicting, I know. But some of my friends feel that their spouse has suddenly changed after marriage and some mourn that even after years of marriage their spouse has not changed a bit! “Before we got married he used to be very sensitive. Now he doesn’t care!” complained Richa. Or my good friend Abhishek who hoped his wife’s excessive partying would eventually stop, and was disappointed that even after the baby arrived she continued her late night parties!

Well, it’s not fair on our part to expect someone to change according to what we think we would like him or her to be or rue the fact that a person has changed. It’s better to accept the change or the lack of it and more importantly communicate and see how you can work as a team.

When kids come, they change everything

You keep hearing this and like many things you don’t realize how true this statement is until you’ve actually experienced it for yourself. Especially now with nuclear families, juggling kids, maids, day-cares, chores and a job has put more stress on the relationship. “We didn’t even have time to talk to each other, because our toddler son would keep interrupting our conversation!”
I remember a friend saying. And this is after the more grueling phase of taking care of a newborn!

Neglecting your relationship at this time can boomerang later on. While the new mother needs her own space, the new dad has to cope with feelings of being left out. Either way, it’s important that you consciously make time for each other. Remember, once the child grows up and is off to carve his own future, you’re back to each other.

Sex vs. cuddling

It’s no secret that men want sex and women cherish cuddling and intimacy. Men need it physical and women need it in its entirety. “I remember he used to be quite sensitive to my moods in the beginning, later it was just about himself,” confesses Arti. “Why can’t she talk dirty?” Blurted a male friend of mine once.

The most important thing is to be open about it --- it’s your spouse after all, not a stranger --- and work towards what makes you both comfortable and happy. It’s not going to happen overnight or over the course of even several months, but most importantly keep your communication channels open.

Be open about finances

“I never really knew how much my husband had stashed in his account, until I accidentally saw his bank statement. And he used to keep telling me that there wasn’t enough money for this or for that,” said Jyoti, who I knew was a spendthrift, so I was secretly happy that Prakash her husband was secretive about the finances. But that apart, I think it’s important for the partners to maintain honesty and transparency in finances so you avoid snooping spouses or resentments and lies.

Marriage is hard work

You might have heard this often, but it won’t actually hit you until you face hurdles, which can come in many forms. And believe me, it is hard work. Sometimes it means swallowing your pride, sometimes accepting a fault, even when it is not yours, sometimes learning to change your outlook and sometimes adopting an entire set of new friends! Whatever it is, be prepared for some hard work, after all nothing in life comes easy, but remember that sweetest fruits are that of labor.

Monday, May 31, 2010

To Marry or Not to Marry?

To Marry or Not to Marry?

I thought I got a happy news when my 30 something friend Shalini told me that she had finally decided to marry. “It’s going to happen at the end of the year.” She told me excitedly. A Hindu, she was excited about the fact that she would have both Hindu and Christian; her boyfriend being Christian. It’s been two years since; and when I last spoke to her she told me, “Definitely this year.” I sat her down and asked her what was holding her back. “It’s the commitment issue, yaar. It’s not that I have doubts about him. I have my doubts about marriage itself. It’s quite scary actually.”

Youngsters are increasingly postponing marriage, which is often dumped as a constriction and are enjoying their new-found singlehood – working hard, partying harder --- and financial independence and are busy chasing their dreams. In many instances parents have either given up putting pressure on their children to hitch up or want their children to make their own choices, be it for their careers or marriage.

Earlier people obeyed parental wishes to get married and entered into wedlock out of societal pressures, and when encountered with troubled times, they just roughed it out. But with a generation that wants instant gratification and instant cures to relationship problems, which typically take years and years of empathetic understanding, it comes as no surprise that marriage is increasingly being pushed. And with society accepting and even hailing singletons, the pressures of marriage either from parents or society is waning.

For someone like Shalini, I could quite understand how the prospect of getting married and “settling down”, adjusting to relatives and making the hazaar compromises that come with marriage could be quite unnerving. She’s the classic ‘new generation’ type – independent, living with friends, working, earning and partying. It’s not easy for people of this generation, who are pretty much independent in most ways to be summoned to get coffee for the other half first thing in the morning or make sure his / her clothes are pressed, as the other half likes it, for instance. At first these small chores, done out of “love”, are a joy; a few weeks down the line, they become a burden and after a few months later you are ready to scream “Go figure!” Sustaining the relationship in good times and bad, discovering each other over the years and supporting each other over these years, through all personality and character flaws does not come easy. I guess that’s where her hesitation comes from, that’s what she subconsciously classifies as ‘commitment issues’.

I hope Shalini finally gets married this year. At least one half of the problem is resolved – she’s certain of her man, it’s the second half – or getting over her fear of marriage and commitment she has to work on. Shalini, if you are reading this, I would like to tell you that commitment is not about fear or all the negativity, it’s about change and change is not necessarily painful, it can be joyous and rewarding.