Living in the world, relationships are inevitable. At work, in the society, at home, in the family, everywhere. Generally, the more intimate a relationship, greater and more deep rooted the expectations. My focus today is personal relationships, the type where both physical and emotional intimacy form an integral part of the relationship. Society may label such relationships as marriage, girlfriend-boyfriend, lovers and so forth.
No matter how independent or peaceful your nature, irrespective of your faith, beliefs or religion, fulfillment in any personal relationship is directly dependent on the quality of commitment from both partners. If there is a mismatch but both acknowledge it and are willing to work towards fixing it, it can be fixed. However, if one of the partners does not feel or acknowledge any issues, much less understand them, you can work till the cows come home, the relationship will continue to be an unfulfilling and an incomplete one.
Forming relationships or breaking them is rarely a black-and-white matter. It is not always easy to just call off or put up. Your state of mind is greatly, if not constantly, affected by your relationships. The primary source of your memories are your relationships, they are the seat of your emotions in a way. Both partners want some quality, a certain equality in a relationship. It is often compared to a two-wheeler, where both wheels need to be balanced for the vehicle to move smoothly. However, that is an intellectual proposition, albeit a convincing one. In reality, man and woman are built differently, psychologically, emotionally and physiologically.
I would like to share with you the four truths of marriage. As follows:
1. It is not possible to let go of expectations
People tell you to accept the other person, do not expect too much, be more accommodating and so on. If you can adopt it fully, you may have greater peace of mind. However, in reality, both partners need to accept that they have certain expectations from each other. When you give your heart, body and soul to an individual, it is natural that you expect something similar in kind.
If you completely let go off your expectations, you are making one big compromise. You may still have a relationship but it will be devoid of fulfillment and joy. Denial of your needs, curbing your desires, non-expression of your love is not letting go of expectations.
2. One partner is always more attached than the other
Both man and woman may have similar, if not same, education, earning, background, but one person is more attached to the other. They may even love each other differently.
They say, “When you love somebody, set them free. If they come back they’re yours, if they don’t they never were”. Well, well! you love your body but you do not set it free to do whatever it pleases, you love your dog but you take him out on a leash. Because when you love, you care naturally. Out of such care arises concern and caution. Surely, both partners must give each other personal space but you cannot accept everything, unless you have no other option, in the name of setting the other person free. Rather than aiming for some lofty philosophy, it will help a great deal to be practical.
3. One is always more expressive than the other
One partner tends to be more expressive than the other. Often the one more expressive, by gestures, actions or words, wants the other person to speak up, to express more, to share better, to speak their mind. They feel that their partner does not communicate, that he does not share or that she does not appreciate.
The woman dresses up, expecting her husband to at least give a complement, for instance. He loves to see her look so gorgeous, but he is not expressive. He may simply not utter even a word. “How do I look?” the wife may ask to solicit a response. A few occasions and meltdowns later, the husband may start to offer a customary compliment. But the truth is, if it is not in his genes, if he is not the expressive type, his fundamental behavior is unlikely to change.
4. A functional relationship is not about perfection
Perfection is a subjective term, a relative notion, a matter of perspective, of opinion. You do not work in a perfect environment, you do not live in a perfect world, you do not eat the perfect food, and, dare I say it, you are not perfect either, how reasonable is it then to expect a perfect relationship?
Marriage is about growing together, being together, exploring together, working together, loving together, crying together. It is about togetherness.
Let us say, for argument sake, you were thirty when you got married and today you are thirty-three. Do you know what ticks you, what motivates you, provokes you, puts you off, turns you on? Do you absolutely know yourself? Like one hundred percent? Probably not. If you could not know yourself completely in thirty years, how can you possibly expect your partner to know all about you in three? And! until you understand each other, a perfect relationship remains a distant dream.
On a lighter note, let me roll the scroll out of Mulla’s life for you:
“In my thirty years of marriage, we’ve never had an argument,” said Mulla with a sense of pride.
“I don’t believe you! How come?” exclaimed his friend.
“Well, whenever she’s right, I admit it. So, there are no arguments.”
“But, what about the times when you are right and she is wrong?”
“Oh! such a situation hasn’t come up yet,” replied Mulla in a matter-of-fact tone.
Most may appreciate Mulla’s spirits, but, many more live like Mulla’s wife. They believe they are right, that, somehow, they just know better, are better. Marriage is not all about being right, it is not a competition, it is a lot about just being, being there for each other. That should be the primary basis of your analysis, whether your partner is there for you when you need him and vice-versa. If you are not there for each other, you are not married.
An imminent question is how to find out whether you should stay in a relationship or move out, whether or not you can make this work, if you have grown out of it? Is calling it quits the right thing to do? What about when your religion or faith makes you believe otherwise? What are some of the things you can try to fix your marriage? I am going to reflect on this and more going forward. You may want to read- When to move out of a relationship. In the next one, I will elucidate for you the five types of struggling relationships in a marriage.
I get tens of emails from people who are going through crisis in their relationships. I know my writings are no panacea and that my inbox will continue to be inundated, however, even if one relationship can be saved, even one person feels better, stronger, happier, I will consider it worth my time to scribble my thoughts. Here is a nice article from wiki how on how to build healthy relationships.
There is a way to eternal peace, infinite bliss, unconditional love. Make no mistake, your happiness is in your hands and you can turn inward and experience your independent nature. However, till one reaches that exalted state, I thought it would be prudent to offer wisdom in a more practical context.
Take care of yourself and each other.