Madhavan and Paro came from differing backgrounds yet fell in love when they met in college. Parents from both sides, were against their relationship. They cried, argued and fought trying to make their parents understand the importance of their relationship. At times, they were also willing to pay heed to their parents’ concern only so they could use the opportunity to reiterate that they were baseless and both of them were perfect for each other. Neither of them were willing to elope since they wanted their parents’ blessings so after six years of bitter battle, their parents finally relented and they were married with much aplomb.
But 8 months after marrying with everyone’s blessing and societal approval, they filed for divorce on grounds of incompatibility!
Initially I thought perhaps the parents on either side were at it again and making life difficult for the couple but on close interaction found that it wasn’t the case. Irrespective of the many “I told you so” remarks floating around they broke up solely because they couldn’t live with each other!
Similarly another couple fell in love and married against parental wishes. They probably wouldn’t have married at all if there was a neutral someone who had simply asked them to look inwards in terms of what they truly wanted from each other, from their relationship – someone who nudged them to see that they were not right for each other as was starkly evident to outsiders. Unfortunately, no one did. Today, their every day is enmeshed in bitter arguments and adjustment issues. Even the birth of their child didn’t help matters.
When I began writing this post, I was thinking of discussing parental beliefs and viewpoints – how important these tend to be when deciding if a life partner is right for us. Consciously or otherwise, they are indicative of our future life. However, what I found truly intriguing was the underlying issue of how couples unanimously stood up to the world as one yet were unable to uphold that stance when face to face with each other!
In these cases, is it because for the longest time, their relationship solely meant adjusting and compromising to their respective families instead of addressing each other’s emotional needs? The battle with their parents took up so much mental space leaving them with hardly any time to talk about their expectations from each other, their personal beliefs, fears and goals, their future together amongst others. These are hardly issues when one is dating as then conversations mostly centre around likes, dislikes, enjoying moments of togetherness and physical intimacy. The physical intimacy phase is also one where the intention is to please rather than being vocal about being pleased or pleasing oneself.
Every person is unique and invariably upbringing, value systems, financial backgrounds, personal internalized conflicts influenced by respective families all determine and play a significant role when choosing a partner. Sometimes people look for partners who are totally different from themselves or their parents or their experiences as they feel that it will help to change their lives. After all, we’re all looking to live different lives. On the other hand sometimes we’re drawn to certain qualities or habits that unconsciously or at deeper insight are actually the kind of relationships we’ve seen growing up simply because we believe that we’re capable of changing them. Our future will be better and we will live different lives!
But the irony of the situation is that the constant justifying to parents can take a toll on the personal relationship. I believe that some times having to justify also pressurises couples and puts them in false positions – someone might highlight a valid negative point which the couple might have overlooked or ignored but feels forced to take a side to keep up a front. Some times couples feel defensive if they’ve realised the same yet don’t know how to discuss it with their partner. Yet again something said during these arguments might have hurt the other partner – so although on the face of it things might seem ok but the person might be unable to forgive or forget how it had made them feel. And invariably it finds a way into future discussions and arguments!
It is crucial to try to understand our partners but more importantly we should first get to know ourselves better. If we don’t respect our own wants, needs and desires then we risk having to live someone else’s lives or their expectations. During such times, the power of love takes a backseat and we start regretting marrying the person we love. As seen with the second couple, although they’re not keen to divorce because of their child, that hasn’t meant that they’re civil to one another.
Thomas Merton in No Man Is An Island says “the beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Choosing the right partner is such a challenge and much has been written about how to pick them. So perhaps at times, it’s easier to just accept that something didn’t happen SIMPLY because it wasn’t supposed to!