What God has Put Together!
I like writing my blogs, yet decided to take a break and focus on a momentous occasion in our lives — our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We are blessed to have reached this milestone.
Many reach it, many don’t, and some miss it by a whisker.
This was an opportunity to look back at the journey of 50 years and while on it, I thought, ‘Marriage’ could be a good topic for the blog. That however, was not the only event, for within the week, my nephew (sister’s son) got married.
50 years apart, marriage then and marriage now!
Could it be very different?
Let me start with ‘my’ journey, intertwined with ‘his’ journey and therefore ‘our’ journey. Too many pronouns!!
Soon after completing my graduation, there was a proposal of marriage, which incidentally I carried myself to my parents — not knowing what was in the letter. Things moved fast, and a meeting was set up. We met and I said ‘yes’. I don’t think I had given much thought to marriage or the type of person I would want as a spouse. Maybe, I said yes, because he was well read and quoted lines from literature. Maybe, he made me feel special.
Now 50 years later, I realize I was naïve, ignorant and innocent.
How did he know I was the right person? Was it a physical attraction? Was it loneliness away from his own milieu and therefore marriage fitted into the overall scheme of things? I think, he had his head screwed on much better than me — at least he had some clear thoughts and objectives of how the marriage should grow out.
We got married with all the usual traditions. Within a few days, we chugged out of a known railway station on a long journey to North India and to an absolutely empty house except for a gas stove. (Talk about reaching a man’s heart, through his stomach) Reality struck!
I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me, even though he wrote long letters to me almost every day while we were engaged. I was a poor writer, or probably overwhelmed and didn’t know what to say.
There were adjustments to be made — new places and a new home, new culture, a new language to learn, new friends to make, a new loneliness. Adjusting to another human being physically, mentally and emotionally. Learning to manage a home, learning to cook and learning to manage money. And hence the question, ‘Can we make this work?’
I think we muddled through the relationship, always keeping the lines of communication open between us.
Communication at a deeper level is hard for it lays you right open to another human being who was a stranger, not too long ago. He spoke and spoke trying to get me to open up. It took me a while to understand that self-awareness and self-disclosure was the only way forward — sharing our wants, our needs, our values, our aspirations, our beliefs, our desires, our objectives for life and our objectives for a family and so much more.
This brought out the best and brought out the worst in us. We could lift each other up and hurt each other too.
Then came the pregnancy and the birth of our son and an announcement, he made loudly in the hospital, ‘Now that you have proved your fertility and me my virility, we can stop at one.’ Call it wish fulfilment, but I never conceived again, and not for lack of trying.
Obviously, a child meant there were changes in our relationship — for there was a new responsibility and a whole new kind of communication. It was now to do with living the values we wanted to bring up our child with.
Were there conflicts? Of course there were and still are, often due to a dichotomy of expectations and values. The way I was brought up and the way he was. The way I am and the way he is. We have found ways to resolve our conflicts.
In this context I need to share a definition of ‘love’ by Scott Peck from the book “The Road Less Travelled” that made a difference to my understanding of what love was all about.
“Love is a willingness,
to take pains
to bring about a growth in freedom
in myself and in others”
This was when I understood that love is a decision. I decide to love him even on those days when he can be the most unlovable man on the face of the earth. I am sure he does the same, for I can be quite difficult too.
Has there been growth as a person, as a couple — I believe so. The marriage would have been dead a long time ago, if there was no growth.
I hope I have not given the impression that all was gloom and doom. There has been joy, happiness, affection which is distinct from love, humour and laughter, support, forgiveness and apology. People have cared and brought out the best in us, and much more — so many cementing factors that kept the relationship going and the family together.
Robert J Sternberg has given 3 elements of love in a marriage
- Decision / Commitment
While romance and decision / commitment do not require any comment, the concept of intimacy is of course a complex one. While wrestling to put words to my thoughts, I saw a quote by Taylor Jenkins Reid which popped up on the Facebook page of my erstwhile student and now friend Wendy Dickson.
Reid defines Intimacy as follows:
“People think that Intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about Truth. When you realise you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘You are safe with me’ — that’s Intimacy”
I could not have said it better.
I believe our marriage has been inclusive of all the three elements.
And going back to the question, marriage then and marriage now — Is it very different?
Except for the inconsequential frills!!