Monday, March 17, 2014

Marriage myths

If you are married and feel disillusioned with the way things are between you and your partner, read on………you will relate to what I am saying. Go back and remember the moment you share your happy betrothed state to a friend. I am sure you were bombarded with a varied mix of definitions of marriage and the (fairy?) tales involved. If you had paid close attention you would surely have fathomed the myths mixed up in that salad of anecdotes and classifications.

Inspite of the abundant collective experience of marriages that mankind has, it is surprising that the myths surrounding it are copious and profuse. Myths…because they seem so real but in reality are just inventions of the fertile mind and heart. Many myths that surround marriage give couples unrealistic expectations. 
Some of the myths can be very misleading and could very well set your relationship up for a lingering dissatisfaction or a disappointing end.

I am whole when I am with him……She completes me....Together we are a whole: Haven’t you heard this many times? If you do not perceive yourself as a whole self sufficient stable entity, you will go looking for someone who will make you feel (feel being the operative word) whole. Isn’t that too big a burden for your partner to carry? If s/he is busy making you feel whole, then how is s/he to feel fulfilled in your company. What are you adding to the alliance as his/her partner? Find yourself first and you could be two wholes in one relationship. Now, that is a good marriage.

I only need love: Really???!! Most couples will tell you that the overt gestures of love disappear in a few months of the marriage. And even the covert ones aren’t enough to sustain the relationship. What good is a partner who stays up with you when you are sick and misses his professional deadlines the next day because he did not get enough sleep…worse it’s a trend. Will love pay the rent and put the kids into college (well, I am assuming you are going to have kids)? Love is never enough. You need trust, stability, dependability, faith, honesty, reliability and so much more for a successful happy marriage.

Never take your partner for granted: I admit I am guilty of believing this one myself and would take offense to my partner taking me for granted. But, it is still a myth. If I cannot take my I-will-love-you-even-with-your-morning-breath soul mate for granted then who am I supposed to count on in my hour of need? With overly individualistic family members, unreliable maids and vacillating body mass, he is the only enduring truth in my life. I say, you should take the middle path and lean on your partner when you need to……without allowing it to become an everyday occurrence.

Marriage will make me happy: No marriage can make you happy. The unhappiness that probably you feel now is a function of your mental perceptions and conclusions that you draw in a given scenario. Unless you change your point of view, the sadness/frustration/disappointment will remain. Change your glasses, look anew at the source of your feeling and happiness will be right at your door. As a bonus, you will be rewarded with happiness in your relationship.

Gods and their feet of clay: I have heard my friends boast about how perfect their partner is. They even say so to their other halves in a misguided attempt to compliment them. The truth is all of us have our imperfections….small blemishes and big flaws. That is what makes us human….. and unique as well. To have a partner deny that and look at you as a demi-god can be powerful….. for a second, but too big a responsibility, the next. I mean, it involves being mature and right all the time. How many of you will survive this label……will you act out against it or meekly accept a role that is not you….can never be you? And, more importantly, will the marriage survive it. See your partner for who he/she is and love the human quirks and idiosyncrasies that are uniquely his/her.

Happily ever after: The fairy tale ending is just that …a fairy tale. In real life there are chores at home, traffic jams, office and family politics, bills and EMIs, cranky kids…..the list goes on. Any marriage based on the precept of Cinderella and her Prince will bite the dust. A more realistic way of looking at a marriage is that, now you have a partner to share that load with and find solutions for. You will have happy times and there will be challenges along the way. If you are pragmatic about it, you will have a better shot at a good marriage.

Don’t make a big deal out of sex: We live in an age when sex is discussed more easily, is depicted very often in movies and is talked about openly ….. but I have often seen it dismissed as just sex. In the marriage, sex or its lack therein can mean disappointment, stress at work, physical and mental fatigue, anxiety, hurt and so on. Examine any change in the sexual rhythm and communicate with your partner about it. Just that dialogue could set it right. Sex is very important in a marriage. Never forget that.

Kids will bring us closer: I have heard this one so many times, its no longer funny. Anyone who has kids can tell you that the arrival of a child though very joyous an occasion can be tiring and tedious and catch your marriage by the coat tails. The feeding cycles, diaper duty and house chores can keep you too busy to even notice your partner…forget feeling close to him/her. Most couples I know and see in my clinic call those days a roller coaster of emotions interspersed with thunderous arguments and vociferous accusations. If you are planning on starting a family, do so with a healthy dose of reality. Your relationship will now function on a different plane and as is the case with every new job, it will take some time for things to settle down. Till then keep the faith 

There are many other myths floating around….supposedly based on empirical evidence. That itself should alert you to their presence. Every marriage is special and unique and so are the two people involved in it. Empirical evidence in this scenario is bound to be flawed.
Enjoy the fact that you have found someone special to share your life with. Don’t downgrade your relationship by subjecting it to the generalities and fables at hand. By doing so, you have everything to lose.

Reproduced from Gaurai Uddanwadiker's article- Complete Wellbeing August 2012

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