….marriage…….ouch……aawwww…..

Yes guys, I am back again with yet another post on…. yes, you guessed it right, relationships. Relationships are hard work, yet, if you put in the right kind of effort, you can enjoy a good “harvest”.

Actually, a relationship does remind me of a plant / tree….. you have to sow seeds at the right time (season matters) in the appropriate way….then you start watering it, waiting for the seeds to sprout…oh, the joy of seeing those tiny seedling popping out……you still have to keep watering it, giving it some extra feed, if needed and not to forget the all important sunlight…just enough of it……if you live in a cold climate, you have to protect it against the frost……. a lot of tender, loving care is needed before you can even think about enjoying the fruit / flower. However, when it does bear fruit or when it blossoms, it is total bliss. Once the tree matures, it needs less of your attention but you still cannot neglect and expect it to keep giving you fruit. It still needs care…..

Similarly, a relationship goes through various stages just like your plant and if you miss out on any of the so-called stages, it could give you sour fruits or it might even rot away……..when it is such a precious aspect of life, why do a lot of people not give their relationship much thought? How can you neglect something which is an integral part of living? …..I am not saying everybody does…….however, one thing is for sure. In my limited experience with people, I have noticed that those people, who have learnt the art of managing relationships in their life, are usually happy.

Each and every relationship is unique and you need to act accordingly. In my last post I spoke about our relationship with our children, touching a few strategic aspects…….now…..ok…..do I dare? ……touchy……..but I would like to do it, anyway……relationship with the spouse……it is very different from any other relationship…..

(I would like to mention that when I speak of something, it doesn’t mean that I practice it. It is an objective view. You learn a lot by looking around and yes, through your mistakes. I am sure you will agree that life is the greatest teacher of all. Every day you learn something, may be good or bad……positive or negative……simple or complicated……what is important is that you retain the good and try and get rid of everything else…… )

Okay, let’s begin at the beginning: you are growing up, through your teens or may be later, you have this image of your future partner (I am using the term partner here for ease of use). You desire a “perfect partner”. What nobody cares to tell you at that stage (or at any stage for that matter) is that there is no such thing as the perfect partner. What you should be looking for is a “perfect relationship”……no, actually hang on……not even a perfect relationship but a “congenial” relationship. Right?

Next step: this relationship does not “exist”. It has to be created by you and your partner with the right ingredients (being a foodie, I have to absolutely use these terms) or input or you may use whatever term you fancy but the bottom line is that you are responsible (with your partner of course) and you have to jointly create and build your relationship.

Okay, once that is clear, next question is “how do you do it”. Is there a recipe with clear instructions? Is there a manual explaining the procedure?….I think not…… In a lot of cases, you are thrown at the deep end especially if you have an arranged marriage. Even if you do have a courtship, most couples are on their best behaviour during this period. In any case, living with a person 24/7 is a completely different “ball game”.

Once again, I would like to reiterate that each relationship is unique……still some basic rules remain the same….at the beginning, you have a sapling (if at all that) and you have to nurture it and give it a lot of TLC if you want ripe, plump, juicy fruits or bright and fresh flowers. I guess we will all agree on that.

So, where do we begin? Initially, you are wary of each other…maybe wary is not the right word here but what I am trying to say is you are both testing the waters…..at the same time (mostly anyway) trying to please each other. I cannot stress enough how important this initial interaction is. How you see each other and how you treat each other at this stage sets a precedent for the rest of your life.

Don’t get me wrong, your relationship evolves, changes and develops through the years but these initial impressions get embedded in the deep recesses of your brain and may affect your behaviour in later life.

So, you are trying to get to know the other partner and maybe in a way you are assessing him / her.  (I am reminded of our geography teacher who always started her lesson with “First impression, best impression”. God bless her soul) So, yes, first impressions do count.

Your watchwords should be: MUTUAL TRUST, HONESTY, LOYALTY and COMMUNICATION. Now, let’s explore each of these……

The day you get married you meet a total stranger (well you may know him / her a little bit). Where do you go from there…..you are right out of your comfort zone. All these days you have been with people who have known you forever (your parents, siblings and other family) and all of a sudden you are here with this stranger…how do you trust him / her? Well, that’s where YOU come in. You have to work towards gaining the other person’s trust and respect through your acts, deeds and words. It will be a slow process because trust is something which can only be gained over a period of time. It does not happen overnight. If it does happen overnight, then I would be worried. The time period will definitely differ but sooner or later, you will get there if you are being honest both to yourself and your partner.  Trust and honesty are related and interdependent. So, you have that sorted….once you have that in place, it is mostly smooth sailing from there. Your relationship will be strong enough to deal with all the ups and downs and upheavals that life throws at you. Oh yes, you will encounter your share of tempests and tornados……everybody does……but your relationship will survive…….

Let’s look at loyalty. Loyalty could mean a lot of things. For some, being loyal would probably mean something as basic as not cheating on each other. Fair enough but I would like to talk about something beyond that. If you would like your relationship to flourish and bloom, then you have to work harder at the beginning and as time goes on….life goes on….. and……things become easier naturally……you should be able to stand by your partner in (their) decisions or guide them (very tactfully, without hurting their sentiments) towards what would be right for them. This is a very sensitive issue and if you can handle this in the right way….you are one step closer towards that “congenial” relationship. You should be able to defend your partner in their absence if you think somebody is being unjust towards them. That’s what loyalty is all about. If you would like to take that one step further, then, you should never act in a way that they would not like even when they are not around. Small things matter…..

Another essential ingredient in your recipe: communication. You what they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. You may have the best intention and your partner’s best interest at heart but how is he / she going to know unless you let them know. I mean don’t gloat or rub it in at every opportunity but you need to let them know how you feel (about them), about your needs, if you like or dislike something….tell him / her, discuss, argue (if you have to), and sort it out!!! That is very important for a comfortable life together.

…I meet a lot of wives (well, I am one and unfortunately I do not have much interaction with other husbands, so, can only speak from that perspective here) who complain “Oh, I have been giving him hints for this and that, whatever”…hints don’t always work. If it is something that matters, come out and say it. Spell it if you have to. It helps. On the other hand, if you have a suspicion or complaint, it is better to face him / her with it rather than telling the whole world about it. You don’t have to be aggressive or complain as such. It can be done gently in most cases. Then there is the case of feelings or emotions…..you might be bursting with pride at something he / she has done but unless you actually let them know (it could a simple chat, a card, SMS, WhatsApp, you have your pick) or you might regards him / her as you “rock”, tell them. They would love to know. Here I am reminded of a song by Billy Joel, “tell her about it….”

Whatever you do, keep your channels of communication clear and open and make your life easier and happier. It is in your hands. These are very simple things and just common sense but a lot of people ignore them mostly. Either they get so absorbed in living that they don’t have the time to stop and think whilst some can’t be bothered and there are others who just think “let the other person do it” but life does not work that way. It is for you to take responsibility and decide how you want your life together to be.

I would like to end with some simple tips:

For those of you who are embarking on this journey, my advice is to take the right step at the beginning. It makes so much of a difference. Don’t sweep stuff under the carpet saying I will deal with this later, let me enjoy myself now. Yes, marriage is a pleasure and you should enjoy every moment. However, if you use the initial few moments wisely, you will thank yourself for the rest of your life. When you have time for yourselves get to know each other……..explore each other……know her / his likes, dislikes….their fads…….habits…….all these small things do matter.

Sometimes putting the other person’s needs before yours is good. However don’t ever get into that rut that you keep doing things for the other person and forget yourself in the process. Do remember that unless you are happy, you cannot and will never be able to give happiness to others. Love and care should come from within and that will only happen if you are happy.

Oh yes, one more thing, birthdays and anniversaries do matter. Most people say “I can’t really be bothered” but a small gesture on these special days goes a long way…it does not have to be big or expensive (or maybe for some people it does)……a bunch of flowers from your garden or just a wish first thing in the morning….how much effort does that take…….”for everything else there is Mastercard” J

….most important or strategic (marriage is a contract after all), never ever take each other for granted. With time, you settle into a comfortable routine and that is good……still, try to make time for each other and don’t “forget the other person”…..she / he is the same person who you married and brought into your life all those years back……..it does not have to be elaborate dates or romantic trips (if you can manage that, then good for you) but just small gestures in day-to-day life make all the difference to your relationship…..after all even your car can not go on forever just on petrol, it needs occasional servicing…..I am sure you get what I am trying to say…..

So here’s my penny’s worth friends, read it and give it some thought…….well, actually I am just in time for the weekend……..

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