I am dedicating this blog post to my office colleague who is getting married now in particular, and to all others who are going to be married shortly. It’s not a bad idea for the married too to reflect on this as a refresher!
No. I did not mean to make the title from a physical sense, if that’s what you are thinking as a reader. Although I dedicate this blog post to a particular person, I intend to write this for the benefit of many, and all. Those yet to be married, and those already into it. In some cases for several years perhaps. I observed married couples and their families, as my train of life passed through stopping at stations, where I got to pause and observe things more closely and critically. I had since, gained some experience which I want to share through this blog post. Needless to say I will draw from my own experience as well. My no means I am a guru myself in this subject. Nor do I profess to be doing all these I mention here. By specific mention, I request readers to add their own point of view based on their experience personal or otherwise through comments to the post. This will deeply enrich this blog post for the benefit of many others.
Marriage is both auspicious and a very significant life event. In nearly all cases, marriage has a great impact on the life of the couples getting married. So it is very important for young people to take this seriously and be ready to make some serious changes in life from here on. Change does not mean, to the man that he needed be home early, and be able to cook whatever she cooks, for example. It’s a lot more than that. Here are some that I share.
To the Man and Wife
Separation of Duties (SOD)
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Period. There is nothing to debate on this. We are two distinctly different type of people. For example if you’ve ever noticed during conversations with the spouse, men ‘report’ while women ‘engage’ in conversations. Our objectives themselves are different. We are wired differently. While each may be capable of doing the other’s work, our BEST capabilities are distinctly different. I do not want to engage (me not being a woman!!) into the subject in detail. However I do want to suggest for the man and the wife to decide on what separation of duties they want to have in their lives. There is no standard template or recipe to a successful SOD. In India for example, women mostly take care of home while men take care of infrastructure (this does not necessarily mean earning income; there are others) to maintain the home. If each steps into other’s territory and start questioning or taking over that area, be aware that you may be igniting a tiny match stick that is capable of flaring up much bigger!
Adjustment provides the Synergy of 1+1 being greater than 2
Key decisions are more right when done together. Remember that family is run by man and wife who are like two wheels of a cart. One cannot decide something that may affect the other without a buy in. Else there will be distortion to the journey. Decisions made solely by intellect, ignoring the soft side of emotion are not necessarily ‘right’. Emotion being part of our life is a fact after all. Let’s say your wife is wanting to buy an expensive ornament and tells that gold value always goes up so it’s not a bad decision to invest in gold. Don’t argue with her that you were never going to sell the ornament after all, and therefore it would be a dead money. Nor do you need to pull statistics and do the math to show investing in mutual fund is more beneficial than buying gold, if the idea was to save in gold for child’s marriage! Understand that she wants this jewelry and was only trying to find a logic that could be acceptable to you, the man.The key point here, she has a got a right to spend some extravagant money, just as you do when you buy an expensive bike or car or a camera; or a five blade self lubricated, pivoted razor while a simple twin blade could do! Not all decisions we take need to be rationally justified. Some of them could be just to satisfy our heart and are emotion driven. After all the end objective of even a rationally taken decision is make us ‘feel’ happy that we did the right thing. Why not accept wives as they are and do a few things just as they ask for?
The important challenge though here, that there could be certain things which are very important to both of you. And when your views are different. You have no option. One of you need to budge in. May be the man the first time, and wife the next (or other) time. Yes, this is a sacrifice by one. And it is not easy. But is needed for a smooth sail of life.
This kind of understanding between the two and key decisions being made jointly have several advantages. Among the most, they are likely to be more right since there are checks and balances by the two. And if something does go wrong, at least you have the buy in from the other to not complain. Right decisions at right times can give immense benefits, and surely have a synergy effect. You may talk to any person married for several years and they will have umpteen examples to share (that is after they have given thought to this aspect!).
If there is one thing that you want as a takeaway from this post, although you might have heard it a hundred times already, it is this: for a successful marital life, there is nothing more important than being able to adjust to the other.
You will also be Parents
One day you will become parents. Understand kids take lot more visually and through hearing of what you ‘do’, than what you tell them to do. Your own behavior reflects on children. Children are what we make them (aside from their own brought in karma). Often they become like you unknowingly, through observation. Sometimes they consciously decide to become the opposite of you, having noticed your negatives. I recollect from an old magazine story read, when a wife tells her husband, she indeed was a mirror image of her mother. She adds, as a physics professor he should have known in a mirror image left becomes right and right becomes left. Observing her mother doing chores excessively to her father, she felt her mother spoiled and made him lazy. This is an example of consciously deciding not to be like a parent. As a parent you need to behave of how you want your children to be.
The Three Time Love Hazard
Not sure if this needs to be true in every case, but there is a saying that in everyone’s life (man or woman) there will be three times when the person’s love starts looking beyond the fence. When a fair control on self is exercised this will just be something within the heart, a brief spell and nothing that damages the marital life. Being aware that this is a natural and short lived phenomena helps passover!
To the Wife
Never question his Manliness
The last thing you want to do is to challenge or question manliness or hurt the ego of a man. Even among most animals, male gender is the dominant one. Having a dominant nature is actually different from who is having a better authority or who is actually running the show. Men being men, and from mars with a fighting spirit, the last thing you want to do is to compare him to another person that he is not earning as much or not having an important societal status, not physically as strong, and so. When his ego is seriously hurt (luckily this doesn’t happen easily), either he rebukes or sulks. Neither is good for a smooth sail of life.
Show some Flexibility
By design, women have higher capability to flex than men do, in most matters. It is easier to win over him by counseling and persuasion than arguing. Persistence is also the key most times although when over done, he may start developing a different opinion of you. Most men may actually feel happy to grant than make fuss.
No secret: Route to a man’s heart is through his stomach
If you cannot satisfy the taste buds of your hubby all the time or most times, at the least you are missing a great opportunity for bonding. Try and understand what your hubby likes (mind you some of them could be unsaid). Try to cater to them. In the SOD we discussed women are better at managing the home. Allowing or taking your hubby to eat outside often is neither economical, healthy nor good for heart! When men are asking to eat outside frequently catch the point that they are not satiated at home. Men have less respect for wives who are bad at cooking. And this itself is a cause for big fights in some families. Cooking is not rocket science. If you devote time and energy, and most importantly sincerely love him, this is not an impossible task. Also it is not absolutely essential that you cook exactly like his mother, although it does help initially for a jump start!
There are certainly exceptions and wide variations to this. There are some men who like to cook themselves. Check out. May be only when it is occasional. There are some, when he critically examines your food, he is only trying to make your better, not actually criticizing you. Many times the words and tone used do not reflect the actual intent.
Wives need to safeguard their self-respect
When a man slaps his wife or raises his voice only short of a slap for the first time, and if you did not protest it (either during or after the event), you are digging your own grave. Wrong things have to be stopped at the first place. No second thinking or a second chance. There is no such thing as “it’s okay. I will slowly make him understand”. When you are accepting the first time, you are giving a message that you are less than him. And this ain’t true. Men and Women are equal even though each does different things. So what do you do when things are not right? That is a subject too big for this blog post. We will not delve into that. It could be talking to your parents or his parents. Or both. Or talking to a counselor (not lawyer!) Or easiest, just talk it over to him when the thunderstorm stopped and is open to listening. Tact is the key most times. Not argument!
And then on whenever it happens, it should be addressed. Male domination to the act of treating their wives like dirt is not an acceptable manner. Neither in the modern society nor ever. Understand that a silent wife is as much responsible for letting this fire grow, as that of the man who ignited the match stick in the first place.
It is shocking that there are so many families even among the educated, modern and elite where women are treated only secondary to a man in a family. Understand though that this is different from there being a single head of the family and that being the husband. Just as in an organization there is one overall head and not the polarity of two, so also in a family there needs to be one head. But this doesn’t mean the word of the other party is not heard or not take cognizance.
To the Man
Contra – Do not be a Male Chauvinistic Pig
Men should not think that by the act of him being the overall head of the family he is more powerful. He just has the last word (someone needs to). That is in some matters! If he has not appreciated the strength of a woman, then he has failed to see her. And worse, he is not making the best of what he has; what she has to offer. A husband who does not treat his wife well is not respected even by his friends, even if they did not explicitly tell him so. A manager in office is respected and appreciated when he gets things done without a fuss. Not when they are always accompanied by fuss and escalations. If a woman does not appear as strong as a man physically, what do you say when she takes care of most home chores, works in office for 8 or 9 hours (for working women) as anyone else, takes care of her own elders and yours? Is a 100 meter sprinter who runs very fast is more powerful than a 5 km marathon walker? Think. We are different. Not necessarily one is above or less than the other.
Small things keep her happy
It is easy to keep women happy. First of all keep making promises. She is happy to listen a ‘yes’ first. When you have a good reason to not execute something, most likely she will not insist or complain. At the least, you can postpone making her unhappy! Understand that women are from Venus. For them emotions are more significant than materialistic things. Yes materialistic things are needed. But later. Someone complained that he didn’t like getting married since he would need to say he loves her first thing in the morning, and then at night, and several times during the day only to reaffirm his affection to her. But isn’t that a bargain to what all you get for a small price? Tell her, the coffee was excellent but for the fact by error she had put a spoonful of salt instead of sugar. Tell her the curry was excellent. But a little more chilly would’ve made it even better. Tell her she looks gorgeous in that saree. Tell her even without a make-up she was beautiful. Small price. If she figures out that you are saying it not for a fact but only to keep her happy, that is even better! She is happy that you care for her happiness. By the way, expression need not by word always. It could be by deed as well. May be some flowers. May be a cheap jewelry item. May be a small diamond. May be a gesture!
An Outing can help
An outing here and there once in a while can help. It can destress both of you. Taking some time off is very valuable and returns are more than perceived during the trip itself. These could be even short ones as going to a movie or a moonlight dinner.
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping
Most women like to shop. And they don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money. But they may like to spend a lot of time on shopping. If you cannot accompany her every time, make sure you do at least sometimes. Exhibit some interest in shopping, although you may care a hoot what she picked. It is common for most women to scout a lot before they picked their final one. See it as an investment to bonding. Stop that rational mind if it is questioning the rationality of spending so much time for a simple item. It is not absolutely necessary to share your credit card with her. But be open to her shopping interests. Or you want to give her a budget that she could restrict to. Don’t worry. Women are among best finance managers at home. She will restrict her shopping to within her budget with a few exceptions here and there, for which you will not make a fuss!
Give her some space
Remember the SOD above. You need to give her space in certain areas. You don’t need to decide on her inner wear or the curtains for the window. Nor do you need to convince her what you think is right for her kitchen. When she scolds kids out of uncontrolled emotion, understand it’s her nature. You need to tell her to correct herself, later. Doing so immediately only worsens. Remember women are Venus? It is what it is. You need to accept and move on. See what you could do ‘around’ what you want to correct, not push for changes ‘within’. Do yourself a favor. Go buy the book, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus for your Kindle!
Appreciate the fact that both of you are wheels of the same cart. You need to do all the course corrections to ensure both wheels are spinning at same speed and moving in same direction. For then, the cart is not only moving comfortably and at good speed absorbing the bumps, but also is now carrying loads safely and profitably. One plus One is greater than Two! Happy Married Life!! My blessings and love to thee!!!
Image courtesy: https://mkovuri.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/7b484-indian_marriage.gif