Unity in a marriage comes at a price and happy couples are those who have turned bad times to their advantage, says PRINCE FREDERICK
Marriage changes a whole lot of things. For one, laziness becomes callousness. If single men and women put off a task like tidying the room, an unpleasant living environment is all they have to tolerate. Put another person in the picture, there is suddenly more to deal with. It is amazing how procrastinating over a chore, thanks to ‘the laziness chromosome’, can lead to a bewildering array of accusations. “Do you expect me to do your part of the work too?”Your “No, I just didn’t feel up to it this morning. Believe me, I was going to do it in the evening,” may not be heard. Welcome to the world of marriage, misunderstandings and maladjustment.
Source, an organisation working with married couples to better the quality of their marriage, organised a rally on Valentine’s Day for twenty-odd couples. From Marina to the Madras Christian College School in Chetpet, they drove with huge glossy banners that had been tacked on to their cars. These banners tersely explained the value of marriage (example: ‘Happy Marriage, Happy Children’). One poster pasted on the rear-shield mirror was appealing. A sample: “Just Married Twenty-Two Years, Still Going Strong”.
These are not couples who have managed to sustain the honeymoon high. Like any other couple, they have had their share of marital muddles. But unlike some, they had one thing going for them. They have taken a conscious decision to cling on tenaciously to one another. The reason for the commitment is simple – they believe “marriage is the only thing that works”. They have lived through separation (due to work commitments), boredom, sickness and a whole lot of things that can happen between two people tethered to each other for life.
Unity always comes at a price. No, it was not easy to sacrifice self-interest for the marriage. Dr. Shanthi Davidar put off higher studies in medicine because it meant living away from her husband and children. Today, she is glad she put the family’s interest ahead of her own.
There are few places in the country Col. Jason Peter has not been posted to. His wife Betty was prepared to follow him to any part of the world. Among Army couples, they probably hold the record for living together in various places. For twenty years, he and Betty and the children (when they came along) managed to live together, sometimes putting up with unfriendly living quarters in remote corners of the country. As he now holds a job in a software company, his evenings are out. “I make up for it during the weekend,” says the Colonel.
Today, a man is often required to adjust to his wife’s job. It is no longer common for women to give up careers for the family. Half the time, men are expected to make that sacrifice, mostly because the wife is in a better job. But giving up a job, even a less paying one, can be like peeling away a layer of your flesh.
Sajith and Hema are software professionals with long days at work and they also travel often on overseas assignments separately. “Our marriage is going strong because we have realised physical togetherness is not possible all the time. Our jobs mean a lot to us. They make us happy. If we are not happy in areas outside our marriage, how can we be happy inside it?” says Sajith. “We have put off having a second child. When we are ready for him, one of us will be a stay-at-home parent. We don’t know who that is going to be.”
Happy couples are those who have turned bad times to their advantage. On February 11, Peter Gibson and Hyacinth renewed their nuptial vows at Christ Church (Mount Road), fifty years after they were married there. The words “in health or sickness” held a special significance for them. Gibson is still coping with damage from two separate accidents. But for Hyacinth’s selfless love, these blows would have been more crushing.
Happy couples are those who succeed in exorcising demons that exist in their minds. Udhayabanu strongly subscribed to the view that when a man and woman sign up for the long haul, each becomes the most important person in the other’s life. But she failed to understand that following marriage a person does not stop being a son or a sibling. She resented Anand for the concern he showed towards his mother, an aged woman who had nobody else to turn to. As long as Udhayabanu considered her mother-in-law a competitor, there was no peace in the family. “It took a spiritual encounter for me to realise my foolishness. When I began to love Anand’s mother, our marriage took a turn for the better. With the scales having fallen from my eyes, the truth became clear to me. People can’t help loving those that love them.”
Jacob and Rani say, “There is nothing called a perfect marriage. Every marriage faces challenges. Couples can overcome any problem if they realise marriage is the only thing that works.”
Most of these successful couples say there is no blueprint for a happy marriage. As each couple is unique, their problems are their own. “They have to find their own unique solutions to them.” After all, marriage is a private thing between two people.