So, marriage is a social institution that a man and wife enter by legal commitments and religious ceremonies. What is important – the legal commitment or the religious ceremonies or none of the above? I belong to that stratum of people, who believes that the answer is none of the above.
I define marriage as a mutual understanding between two individuals to stay committed to each other, when they have a common or explainable understanding of the below seven key elements. When most of the below is shallow, the commitment breaks, the understanding disappears and marriage see a dead-end.
Acceptance – this is first on my list. Accepting the other person for what-who-how they are. This is of prime importance. The moment you consciously try to change the other person, you are creating a conflict in their mind about themselves. This is the biggest harm you could do to your marriage. So can you accept everything? May be yes, may be no. Therefore, what do you do about the things you cannot accept? You talk it out. If there is no way that you can reach an agreement, then my friend, you will do yourself and the other person good, by letting go.
Space – The second most important aspect is ‘space’. Yes, I understand you are at the doorstep of merging your worlds, but this is the set diagram, we learnt in school. You have two sets, Set A and Set B that are intersecting in the middle. Nevertheless, there is some part of set A which is independent of Set B, and vice versa. This is the exact nature of any happy relationship. Let your partner be, and give them the space to be themselves. The sets intersect anyways.
Change – change is the only thing that is constant in the world, somebody said. This is true of every human being. A person’s circumstances change and there is some change in the person when he/she tries to adapt to the situation. If your partner said they prefer coffee in the morning and after a few years start drinking tea, do not grumble. This is a lighter example, but what matters more is the change in emotions. If a person tends to behave different, emotionally, accept it. Every person is unique, and a single creation. How a person reacts to a particular situation would be different from another. Be prepared to accept change.
Thoughtful – this is something you need to determine before tying the knot. How important is it to you, that your spouse is thoughtful? If being thoughtful makes a world of difference to you, then you should ask this question to your “could-be” partner. If you expect a gift or expect a “Happy Birthday” greeting on your birthday, and your partner does not care, then this is a definite rift in the relationship. It is similar to the – I am good-you are good, I am not good-you are not good situation.
Communication – open communication. If you cannot have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, then let go. You need to be able to emote, talk, and speak your mind without fear. If fear starts setting in, then normal human behavior is to cave in. Once the caving in starts, the person falls deeper and deeper into the abyss. Do not instill fear in your partner. Be a friend. I believe that Friendship is the basis of all happy relationships. If you can be a friend to your child, you will have the strongest bond with them. Similarly, in marital relationships, your spouse needs to be your friend.
Food – I would not rank this as important as the previous elements, but this is an element, I would not ignore. Food habits! How important is it for you that your spouse has similar food habits – the kind of food they eat – vegetarian, non-vegetarian, table manners, food cooked at home. Again, this is not a very difficult thing, but I have seen relationships where this matters. The spouse tries to push his/her food habits on the other person. Let be. There are people who are willing to change, to them, I would say, “Nice”. However, if your spouse is not willing to change, let it pass. Accept!
Parents – I am sure parents are a treasure to any child. The Indian system tends to believe that it is important for the wife to honor her husband’s parents and wishes, but the vice versa is not as important. Girl, if you are ready to follow the Indian system, so be it. However, if that is not the case, then ensure that you clear up the cloud around this, before taking the plunge. After a while it hurts to see how disrespectful they can get, and expect respect in return.
So don’t marriages survive without the above 7 elements? They do, they “survive”.
Now that I have shared my two cents on Marriage, let me tell you, there are thousands of books out there that tell you how to make a perfect marriage, how to fix one, how to keep up with one etc. From my perspective, this is what I perceive as important. If you have these elements in place, “everything” else falls into place.
Wish you a happy married life!