“For the last time, which one do you actually want?” asked my exasperated sister.
I took both the dresses in my hand and tried to analyse them again. The one in my left hand seemed softer to touch; yet the colour didn’t suit my complexion. And, the one on the right seemed much fancier, but then I would have to wear it only on special occasions. Both the dresses had made the journey to-and-fro between me and my sister and I was still unsure about which dress should I keep for myself. Tired of angering her further I say,
“Just take whichever you want. I’ll take the other one.”
This conversation happened every time me and my sister were gifted anything simultaneously. As the younger one, I always whined to be given the first choice. Yet, finally when I chose something and the other gift went to my sister; I immediately got the feeling of making the wrong choice.
That’s exactly the issue with me since childhood — I had to be absolutely sure about my choices. Until I was convinced that I had chosen the best thing for myself, I would keep on second-guessing my decisions.
As you can imagine, things just deteriorated as I got older; when the dilemmas got more complex in nature. Why am I not happy with my job? Am I a good daughter? Is Jon Snow really dead? Meanwhile, all my friends and acquaintances are busy getting either married or engaged. So, eventually there comes a point in your life where you just cannot ignore that one question:
Do I want to get married?
. . .
I am going to marry the right person, at the right time, for the right reason.
So, what is the significance of these three factors simultaneously and almost magically, falling into place?
The Right Person
As Nietzsche said “When marrying someone, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”
This question leads us on the journey of “getting to know the person” which culminates in finding – The One. Is he more of a TV person or spends time reading books? Does he follow politics? Does he value a general standard of cleanliness around him? Does he believe bribing is sometimes okay? Does he believe in religion or atheism? Blockbusters or noir films? Soft music or rock?
The list goes on and on, where compatibility is the key priority. Although, despite trying a practical approach, sometimes your heart veers you off towards unexpected directions. You might fall for a person who has few of the characteristics you wanted to see in your partner. In that case, the critical question is: Does this person make me happy? If yes, screw the analysis and trust your intuition.
The Right Time
You wanted to pool in your savings and finally kick start your start-up plan? You wanted to buy a Harley and go on a soul-searching trip in the Himalayas with your gang? Great ambitions! Get started now. This is to further delve into what exactly is the meaning behind the phrase, “I’m not yet ready for marriage.”
Not that these ambitions cannot be pursued after marriage, however more often than not, it leads to the following statement: ‘I was going to do XYZ in life, but now that I’m married I do have other priorities….’ Yes, with the advent of a new person in your life, marriage is bound to bring new responsibilities. It requires your time and efforts to make various changes: career changes, financial changes, residential changes, name changes, lifestyle changes and so on. Consequently, the prospect of majorly transforming your life to accommodate a “permanent roommate” is pretty daunting.
Of course, it may all be worth it, but just compare this future to what your life is currently and one might realize how having an unattached lifestyle is pretty conducive to pursuing your individual goals. Especially for career-driven people, it is a major deciding factor whether or not a relationship is going to have a detrimental effect on their productivity.
However, there are certain exceptions, where people found that the presence of their spouse provided them a new zeal and further fuelled their ambitions to achieve something bigger in their lives. For instance, the tempestuous marriage of famous painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, a result of their artistic muse-mentor association, comes to mind; where each had a pivotal role to play in the creative journey of their partner.
So, getting married at the wrong time and then picturing your spouse as a liability before pursuing your goals is definitely a gross error. Have the self-assurance to say “I’m not yet ready.” This reason may sound a bit hazy or unreasonable to many, but your future life partner might just thank you for this decision. If marriage is in fact on the cards for you; be sure to get married at a point of time when your dreams and married life can happily co-exist.
The Right Reason
This is a no-brainer. Obviously, the reason is love, right? Well, maybe not.
There are plenty of reasons why two people take the step of marriage. If a couple is in love and are enthusiastic about taking their relationship to the next level, then clearly marriage seems like a good decision. Quite a few people marry for companionship than anything else; since they feel a need for a partner to share their life with. Some people are clear from the get-go that marriage is essential because they want to have kids, their principal interest being in raising a child.
Now, each of the above reasons is valid in its own right. To each, his own. However, the main thing is that you need to be well aware of your intent — What are you seeking out of this marriage? Don’t get married just because your younger sibling is waiting for her turn, your family has been emotionally blackmailing you or you are not going to get anyone better than your current partner….
And, definitely don’t do it because you are bored.
After all, even if you are in love with a person, that does not validate the decision of marriage. What if one of you wants kids and a settled family life whereas the other one just wanted to travel the world with you and kids never figured in the equation? It is true that a couple needs to keep adapting to each other as they get to know them better, however never underestimate the importance of your personality where certain values and goals constitute you, are an inherent part of you; and hence can never be changed. Otherwise, sooner or later, it skews the relationship into an imbalance, where one of the partners feels short-changed. In the end, love surpasses all, but marriage cannot be sustained in such discord.
. . .
And they lived happily ever after…?
So, finally you married the right person, at the right time, for the right reason!
Technically, you seem to be on the right track.
Although, “forever” is a pretty long time. As we see more and more relationships breaking around us, where exactly are we going wrong? The shelf life of modern marriages appears to be very fickle, where you see couples undergoing marital issues in the early stages itself.
Often, couples complain about how their partner doesn’t love them anymore or how things were much more exciting in their courtship days. Well, to understand this trend further, I can just rewind five years back and observe the vast difference that has taken over me: emotionally, physically and intellectually. Apart from a basic inherent format of my personality, I’m hardly the same person anymore. Following this line of thought we can assume that both individuals in a relationship will undergo, or rather should undergo, a certain evolution within their singular personalities over the course of time. Hence, the critical error seems to be that if both individuals keep changing according to the phases in life, why does the relationship remain static?
To avoid the risk of stagnation, the dynamic between couples needs to keep on varying according to the stages of their relationship. Otherwise, there comes a point where either a person gives up on their individuality and singular lives to better adapt to their partner, to a level where they are not even sure of who they really are or the desire to keep honing and deepening their inter-connection takes a backseat, which ultimately leads to the exasperating reality of ‘Love fades, eventually.’
But, what does love really entail? Probably the glacial change of a relationship taking place over a course of time; initiating with a conscious lingering connection felt in the presence of an individual and culminating in an undeviating ardour for that person, permeated in your existence. Awkward pauses to comfortable silences. This transition is probably the key in establishing….true love, maybe?
And, as my mind keeps swinging between these musings, I can almost picture my sister showing me photographs of the prospective grooms and asking again,
“Which one do you actually want?”
And this time, when the question arises, there will be no room for second-guessing.
Pratima Sutar is from Pune, Maharashtra. A mechanical engineering graduate by qualification, she is a writer by determination. She started writing since she learned that she couldn’t draw. To get an instant dose of happiness, she smells an old book or a big block of dark chocolate. She often panics that the concept of reading actual paper-and-ink books is going to vanish in her lifetime, hence binge-reads in retaliation. Apart from reading classic fiction and writing book reviews, she also volunteers as a curator for a literary journal and jots down her chaotic thoughts on her blog.