Yesterday , while we were waiting for our cab to arrive a bickering couple walked past us . I turned to look as the loud voices crossed us .Incidentally they decided to stop right behind us .There was no way I could avoid listening in . Well dressed they looked like an upper middle class couple .Accompanying them was their 10-11 year old son & someone who looked like the child’s grandfather. The lady was loudly proclaiming “Amake Idea dorkar nai” (Bengali)meaning I don’t require your ideas.I felt very sorry for the child & the grand pa for having to witness this acerbic ,public exchange between the couple . Maybe I am jumping to conclusions but it didn’t look like a one-off altercation .
What is the point if Marriages become slug-fests and shouting matches . Altercations and difference of opinions are normal in any scenario where there are more people than one . Marriages are alliances one enters for Togetherness and companionship . But when the very idea of discussions and chats become abhorrent , life becomes claustrophobic . From my vantage point ,I couldn’t discern the reason of the conflict . But I guess when one becomes opinionated and fixated with one’s infallibility , it leaves very little scope for negotiation and compassion .Life becomes an unending litany of grouses ; a farrago of disappointments , unhappiness ..Nobody ties the knot wanting it to become an asphyxiating noose .I see couples who have separate rooms , separate televisions , separate meals , separate lives . Bound together only because the inconvenience of separation outweighs the inconvenience of the current arrangement . Couples who can’t have a simple discussion without it turning into a fault-finding exercise . Marriage is not a rite of passage that one has to necessarily go through . Nor is it an entitlement . Marriage is about valuing the other person in your life . Realizing that the other is an other in name only . Marriage is a life-long commitment and both the people involved need to work on it every single day . Every single day mark my words . Of course it does not imply that one has to behave like Siamese twins joined at the hips , doing everything together . Just that the taking up of separate interests should not be motivated by a visceral need to avoid the spouse .
In a typical male dominated society like ours , there is also the other Idea that one has to battle . One of the “sense of entitlement” . Men who believe that marriage is basically getting home a free –help . Someone who should do everything that their mothers were doing till now and some more.. Basically these men when they come home seem to suddenly step into the time machine and time –travel backwards some 6-7 decades . Become invalids for all practical purposes.
Someone had also preached to me with great pride about how they never let the women of the house do any outside work .I find it preposterous that in this time and age also , people cling to such archaic notions of what males & females can & should do. And these men also then choose to batter their wives not physically but emotionally with unkind words and thoughtless actions . Women also can be manipulative & difficult .Such spouses make Abusive marriages .Such marriages are what but one sided false ,self serving narratives. Till much before & even now , people would remain in such abusive marriages either for the sake of their children or because women lacked the financial & social security .The marriage of the person who had preached to me being one such case.
However more and more women are now finding their voices and are choosing to walk out of such relationships . People say that the institution of marriage is falling apart due to a decline in moral values . Yes that is true but what is also true at the same time is that women are being taught that its right to speak for yourself and stand up for yourself . That marriage is not the be-all & end –all of life . One does not really need a man who is more of a nuisance and less of a support . And how much abuse one can put up with is really not a testament to your value system .
In this whole affair it’s the kids who bear the brunt . Kids from such dysfunctional families also grow up to be imbalanced individuals .
Marriage is like an empty box . Its like an empty house that one moves into . To turn it into a warm , loving place , one has to invest in it .Invest with your mind , heart & soul .Otherwise it remains an empty, concrete , cold structure . What you put in the box is what you can pull out . The box will be full only when the effort is from both ends .Positives should outweigh the negatives .
Covering the distance from I to Us is the game changer . I think when one realizes that this is about the two of you and not just about one , that’s when the marriage starts working .