Wedding diary: Amma's advice on what makes a marriage last
In her tenth column, Divya Nair shares the best pieces of advice she got from her mother. Illustration by Uttam Ghosh.
The last one month has been quite challenging for my partner and I.
Every alternate day, we fight like Tom and Jerry over petty issues related to the preparations of our wedding.
Most of the time, we are complaining how we don't find time for each other like before.
All these years when my brother and I saw our parents argue or engage in a heated discussion, we wondered how these two people, who are poles apart in the way they think and react and have absolutely nothing in common, had managed to stay together for the last 29 years and are still going strong.
Perhaps that's the beauty of arranged marriages.
Then, I looked at my own relationship. Unlike the first two years, when it was all sugar and spice, the last one year has been nothing short of a nitro ride.
Sometimes, when we fight, we hang up on each other as if there was going to be no tomorrow.
In the past we'd apologise and get over it quickly. But now we are increasingly reluctant to do anything to please the other.
We pour our hearts out, list the things that upset us and when things seemed to get out of control, hang up on each other and go to sleep (in our respective beds of course).
The next morning one of us (depending on who woke up first) would call the other and try our best to pretend nothing had happened.
Most times, an apology would work, on other days, it would trigger off another heated discussion.
In these moments of uncertainty we have seriously thought about whether we should take the relationship ahead.
On one such day, I sat with Amma and asked her what was it about my parents' relationship that inspired them to keep going.
I am sharing what she said with you because at some point, most of you have probably gone through these same moments and weren't sure what the next step should be.
Let me warn you that Amma said her advice would work only if the two of us really wanted to work out our differences and intended to continue the journey.
Here is her advice to both partners.
Learn to trust
The basis of any relationship is trust. There will be many instances in your life when you will hear a different version of the story.
You will meet people who lead you into believing something else about your partner.
Don't react on impulse and arrive at a conclusion until you have heard and verified it from your partner.
Learn to forgive
Yes, I understand what he did to you was wrong! No one, including you is perfect, we all make mistakes.
When you do something wrong and apologise to him, doesn't he forgive you and take you back?
Then why can't you do the same and move ahead?
The more you sit on an issue, the bigger it gets and affects your mental health.
Also, there is no harm in being the first to apologise.
Always respond, never react
I know you are short tempered; you lose your cool easily. At the same time, if something upsets you, I have seen you cry alone and keep it to yourself.
We at home understand your ways and moods, but someone else who has not grown up with you may not be able to relate to it.
There is a vast difference between responding and reacting to something or someone.
If something upsets you, respond to it with caution, but never react on impulse.
If something angers you, don't speak immediately, just stay quiet and wait for the right time.
If it is possible, move away from the scene and divert your attention to something else.
Always respond, don't react!
'Adjust' would be the wrong word, 'accommodate' would be more appropriate. For any relationship to move forward, you need to accommodate the other person's wrongs just as much as you accept what they do right.
Your partner may be emotional, irresponsible, stubborn or aggressive, but that is her or his identity.
You cannot ask your partner to change because ultimately, that is what defines him or her; instead, look at the good characteristics -- caring, hard working, a good sense of humour…
Respect your choices
When you agreed to be together, there was something about him that attracted you to him and influenced you to spend the rest of your life with him.
Perhaps you have forgotten about the good times you spent together because of all the negative things that followed and piled on. Think of those times; doesn't it still inspire you to stay together?
Is the issue you are fighting over more important than what brought you together as a couple?
Escaping is not the solution
If you want to run away from the problem because of one person or event, you are free to do so.
You can be selfish and ignore your parents who brought you up, or the sibling who holds you in high regard.
When you're gone, we'd miss you for a while, maybe not eat for a few days and fall ill and weak.
But eventually, everyone, including the one who drove you to your decision, will get on with their lives.
As Amma finished speaking, tears trickled down my cheeks.
I reflected upon what she'd just said, and remembered the sage advice I had read somewhere about the secret behind an old couple's 65-year-long marriage.
The couple said: We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.
Now, having realised the secret to a long-lasting relationship, all I had to do was look back at the beautiful moments my partner and I had spent together as a couple in the first few years.
There is a lot to look forward to and we are definitely going to work on making our marriage a lifelong bond.
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Photographs: Uttam Ghosh