Saturday, March 16, 2013

Let’s dance the marital foxtrot

Vinita Dawra Nangia
Step up the effort and manage expectations — whether you are a single looking for a partner, or a couple desiring matrimonial bliss There are those who give up on marriage even before they enter into matrimony, and then there are those who give up on it after a few years of wedded bliss. Both cases are equally sad.

Unable to find a partner and get married, some singles console themselves that they are better off without getting hitched. Having left it too late or set their standards too high, much like a case of sour grapes, they declare that their singlehood is a coveted, chosen status. The truth is that most of us have a small ambit within which we have to choose the partners of our liking. The choice is limited, unless we choose to widen that ambit by stepping out and making an effort to meet people from different walks of life. The more we step out and look, the wider the choice becomes, but there certainly has to be an effort and a determination to succeed. Most singles I know seldom make that effort; all they do is wait for the right person to walk along and ring the bell! In the meanwhile, they keep considering and rejecting those around, or feeling rejected in turn.

However just meeting people isn't enough; your motivation to get married too has to be high in an age when most needs are already met. Social networking sites help stave off loneliness and fulfil a need to communicate and participate, weakening the desire to step up our search for a life partner. Colleagues and friends at work take care of social needs, and most people do not wait till marriage to experience romance and sex. This distracts and delays the agenda of setting up a marital home. Striking a chord takes more time and effort than we are willing to give, and zeroing in and finalising a partner requires more courage than most care to display. And by the time we smell the coffee, it is too late. Seeing possibilities wane, we try to make the best of the situation and console ourselves that we are better off without marriage.

Equally sad is the case of married people, who after a few years of matrimony, drift away from each other and stop making efforts to improve their wedded bliss. They find it easier to give up on each other and start cohabiting, rather than living together. Bitterness seeps in and eats away at the innards, creating deeper rifts till pain and depression take over life. Here again, it is high expectations and low efforts that create the problem. Most people walk into marriage expecting to find a state of readymade permanent bliss. They fail to realise that perfection is not found in marriage, it needs to be worked upon. That is why many arranged marriages have a better chance of survival than love marriages. You enter the first expecting to work on the marriage and build up a relationship, while you walk into the latter expecting nothing but bliss.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect partner. One can have perfect moments or even perfect days in a marriage, and one can discover perfect aspects in the personality of a partner. Most of the time, it's looking out of the window that creates problems. Keeping an exit policy in the marriage contract, as Hollywood stars do, is a sure way to start ending the marriage even before it has begun. No wonder then that each of them has several marriages and kids, but is never settled or happy.

The role of passion and commitment cannot be overstressed in a marriage. Making a success of your marriage has to be a passionate commitment, a top priority. A couple has to be friends and lovers first all through their married years, no matter how old they are. Parenthood should not be allowed to push back this focus. Spending exclusive time together has to be scheduled as a mustdo. In fact, plan not just moments of togetherness, but also loving gestures, words and care; after a time, they become a natural part of life.

Having fun together, being loving and caring and large hearted enough to forgive and care again makes all the difference. Staying balanced in your relationship is of utmost importance. Fighting is normal, but one needs to know where to draw the line so as not to irrevocably hurt the other. We all know when we have overstepped; if you have done so, apologise and make up immediately. When you see your partner in an aggressive and unreasonable mood, learn to step back rather than let fly, and teach your partner to do likewise. Much like the foxtrot, as one advances, the other retreats, while still hanging on lovingly to each other — and that creates the perfect rhythm that the dance of matrimony requires.