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?