Let’s face it, love is incidental to the whole story!

Marriage is ideally for a life time, it’s an experience where everyone has their own set of rules. Let’s Face It! is an attempt to unravel some of those rules and share interesting people’s opinion, views and attitudes towards this institution.

Excerpts from an interview with Anubha Kakroo, Director: Design & Cultural Insight at Futurebrands India Ltd**

Pottsandpan (PP): In present times, how would you define love in marriage?

Anubha Kakroo (AK): You know, Romeo actually went to the Ball to impress the beautiful Rosaline but when she steals away, Juliet enters. She notices Romeo first and their attraction is immediate! This clearly epitomizes the fickle mindedness of youth. I’d call it passion-ate love, the sensual energy that overrides all emotions during adolescence. In marriage, love is almost incidental to the whole story! Its passion that drives you to want to spend your life with someone. Love is nuanced, complex and comes much later.

PP: Growing up years and even today love is compared to that shared by Laila-Majnu or Romeo-Juliet. Why aren’t there any contemporary icons?

AK: I believe that’s because it’s the ‘unrequitedness’ of their love that is ‘romantic’ and upheld otherwise love becomes boring and domestic! Imagine Romeo and Juliet running a house and raising a family together! How utterly ordinary would that be!!  Passion is the primordial emotion that holds true even today and in every society. It’s become crystallised in that frame and these characters are the metaphorical symbols of that passion-ate love.

PP: How would you define marriage? How has it changed over the years?

AK: The basic premise for marriage has always been sex and procreation although today, sex and procreation can happen outside of marriage too. Marriage is this whole issue of structuring child-raising essentially and maintaining a community /society as it’d be difficult to operate as lone rangers.

Today it has more to do with the ‘individual,’ which is perhaps more primordial than marriage is! When the individual takes centre stage over and above the system, there is stress. In most urban centres the changing nature of marriage has settled down a bit and there is more subtlety and rhythm. The change is more apparent in tier II cities. I know of a woman who enjoys going out with her father-in-law to watch movies as her mother-in-law is not interested and her husband has no time. This is an interesting dynamic. Similarly another interesting concept is that of the family disco. In this case, the entire family would occasionally hire a discotheque in the afternoon and go dancing together. Beginning with the grandfather, down to the youngest child, everyone would troop down to a discotheque and groove to the latest Bollywood songs. This reflects the need for the older generation to sample what the youngsters enjoy while the new bride is able to enjoy the freedom to dance within the confines of the system. Both these observations indicate the changes slowly unfolding in the concept of marriage.

PP: What are your views on LAT – living apart together? Do you think it can lead to marriage becoming redundant?

AK: I know LAT came into prominence sometime in 2009-2010. It’s a great concept where both parties get their space but I think it works well with grown up children or divorced parents. Then this concept of you-me-us becomes less tricky. A couple friends of mine had parted ways amicably but were not legally divorced. When the wife had a medical emergency, she was able to avail of her ex’s medical insurance as they weren’t separated legally. The institution of marriage has been in existence for far too long. It involves societal, psychological, emotional as well as legal factors. It’s become imprinted in our DNA and erasing it is tough. If you’re attracted to someone then marriage is one platform to formalise that relationship.

PP: The 2013 Indian Wedding Survey by Femina found that although most women preferred to find their own partners only 20% found their match through matrimonial websites while 5% had assistance from their families.

AK: Let me give you examples of some interesting case scenarios. One of my friends is well-educated and financially independent. When she couldn’t find Mr Right she went to her parents and laid down certain conditions for them to find a match for her. The guy had to be her equal – an MBA with good income. Another friend, after being heartbroken a few times is still unable to find Mr Right. But instead of opting for marriage she prefers to live a solitary life in London. Both instances reflect a different response to the notions of pragmatism versus the romanticism, the real versus the ideal. There are trade-offs in each case and one has to live by the choices made. A young cousin although keen to get hitched found the idea of looking for a girl so intensely pressurizing that he’s opting for an arranged marriage. The idea of arranged marriage is like a safety net for many people, including internationally now as the stress of ‘landing’ a long-term partner screws the happiness out of most relationships anyways!

While growing up we’d generally see matrimonial ads talking about fair complexion and good looks. But today the premium matrimonial markers like in the Economic Times matrimonial are requests for graduates from Harvard, ISB etc. Today matrimonial websites have formalised the process of hunting for a mate. In fact there are societies where there is the hybridisation of the two systems – “arranged love marriage” within the same caste and community. Interestingly, there is also so much pressure within certain young people today for the need to have love marriages that they shy away from telling their friends that theirs is arranged, preferring to call it ‘love’ marriage even if it is not!

PP: Women today are looking to find their equal – partners who not only earn as much as them but are similarly educated and believe in equality in marriage. What do you think?

AK: A recent article in the New York Times referred to such equal or peer marriages as ‘egalitarian marriages’. In these marriages both spouses work and take care of the house and their relationship is built on equal power, shared interests and friendship. The same article also talks about studies that show that the very qualities that lead to greater emotional satisfaction in such peer marriages may be having an unexpectedly negative impact on those couples’ sex lives! At the outset this is the kind of marriage many people wish for but the values that make for good social relationship are not necessarily the same ones that drive lust. Psychologist Esther Perel comments that “it’s the first time in history we are trying this experiment of a sexuality that is rooted in equality and that lasts for decades. It’s a tall order for one person to be your partner in Management Inc., your best friend and passionate lover. There’s a certain part of you that with this partner will not be fulfilled. You deal with that loss. It’s a paradox to be lived with, not solved.”

PP: Talk to us about your marriage, how long have you been married? Based on your experience what has been the one thing that has worked for both of you as a couple?

same shitAK: We’ve known each other for 25 years and been married for 21 years now. I was 18 years old when I met my husband so we’ve almost grown up with each other. I think being in the same line of work (design education – architecture) has helped greatly. My husband is a one place person while I’m a multi-place person. This can lead to frustration sometimes but when all else fails we still have one thing in common to talk about – design education! In other words having a common enemy helps. It’s a great unifier.

PP: What would be your advice to couples wanting to commit to each other?

AK: When one is looking for a mate, then consciously or sub-consciously we find someone who tends to have about 70% of the qualities we’re searching for. This tends to override the remaining 30% which don’t match. Unfortunately this remaining 30% is what kicks in later and starts bothering us. We refer to that as differences between couples. Based on this I would advise that couples should accept that one person cannot fulfil all their needs. Insistence on this puts pressure not only on the self but the other person too. Simultaneously there is the need to find a commonality that will help tide them over the difficult phases. It’s foolish to believe in ‘a happily ever after ride with no bumps and breakdowns’ 🙂

PP: If one person cannot satisfy all your needs then doesn’t that go against the meaning of monogamy, marriage itself?

AK: I’m not a staunch believer in monogamy. Men by nature will want to look for multiple partners to literally spread the seed as far and wide as it can go for better chances of survival and dominance of a particular gene-pool while with education, exposure, financial independence women too have begun to question certain stereotypical notions. This idea although more primordial is not too recent. It may have been suppressed over eons and therefore the factors mentioned above may have helped it come to fore again. Even biologically, female of a species tends to expand her ‘mate-bank’ as it were, to have a more varied gene pool and thus have a stronger offspring with better chance of survival. So biologically mono-partnership (monogamy being a social construct) is actually counter-intuitive.

conversationWe meet interesting people from all walks to life every day and will connect with them at different levels. When connecting with a man (other than your husband) there is always a possibility of sexual undercurrent. I think that’s healthy, one should acknowledge that and move on. Sometimes you can be most comfortable discussing certain issues with another man but not your husband. It’s prudent to understand that you’re connecting with a fellow human being not just a man. In fact the dewar-bhabhi (brother-in-law – sister-in-law) relationship is based on this premise. Good natured and good-hearted flirting works for both. At a wedding outside of Indore, a friend was shocked listening to the women talking and singing songs with clear sexual innuendoes. We think we’re modern, educated and liberal. But in fact we’re more prudish and put more checks and balances on relationships. You could say that this understanding that one person cannot satisfy all your needs is a double-edged sword!

**Architect and Industrial Designer, Anubha has specialized in Design Management, specializing in Strategy, Innovation and Branding. Anubha works as a Design Strategist & Thinker. Currently she works as Director: Design & Cultural Insight at the Futurebrands India Ltd. where her work involves using Design as a critical resource for Cultural Mapping and insight to make sense of India. She has taught and has been on various juries of the School of Planning & Architecture, National Institute of Fashion Technology and the National Institute of Design. She is also interested in the intricacies of Art & Aesthetics, English; Language & Literature and Cultural/Anthropological Studies. 


Marriage is a maze of negotiations and decisions – each with its own impact and rippling effects. You win some, you lose some. Mostly you need to decide what suits you the best. Easier said than done!


For one the concept of ‘you’ changes as one ages – from ‘you’, the individual, it moves to include your spouse and then your children. ‘You’ could also refer to your family. What’s best for you has to be in the context of changing situations – even those that might come up in future.

Decisions can be a lengthy process or spontaneous. They can be taken in total agreement or be one-sided. It’s an open playing field and sometimes, the stronger side wins.

Ideally, decisions should be taken as a couple – well thought through, discussed at length, pros and cons acknowledged and both sides should feel like their views have been taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, the truth is that decisions cannot be taken as a couple in isolation. Your ego, id, family pressure, upbringing, emotions, past experiences, finances, situational context – all play a role and much depends on what or who gets the upper hand! The best place to begin, therefore, is to acknowledge this simple fact.

It is extremely difficult to develop the capacity to view every situation independently and objectively before taking a decision. Sometimes though, it’s best not to, as past experiences can rightly shed light to guide one’s actions. Sometimes it’s good to go by gut – if you believe in it, go for it.You might repent later, but at least, you’ve made a choice.

Failing to exercise your choice is still a decision, so you must accept that. You cannot blame anyone – and if it’s the wrong decision, step back, rethink about what went wrong, forgive yourself and move on. There is no point in harbouring the nagging doubt that it was your fault – you didn’t stand up and take action, or didn’t voice your opinion more strongly, or didn’t have sufficient information or didn’t want to face the ugly truth! Don’t keep score as it’s one way to guarantee that nobody wins.

Moving on is the penultimate truth about decisions. If you’re unable to move on then you’ll be stuck in the rut forever. No matter what new experiences you have – you will always look at them through doubtful eyes. Believe that you did what you thought was right then, stand by it. If, in the present, it seems wrong, then do accept, that it was right for a while.

A successful marriage includes two skilled negotiators. No matter who took the final call, if it’s right, great minds think alike. If it’s wrong, then share the blame as a significant long-term impact of decision-making, is that your child will learn from you and emulate in future.

The Power of Love

Love, the universal language is an interesting concept.

According to Wikipedia, love refers to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to interpersonal attraction (“I love my partner”). Love may refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros, to the emotional closeness of familial love, to the platonic love that defines friendship, or to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.

This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.

Love changes over time. Does it really? Or is it that just our response and reaction to the love we feel changes?

Wanting to spend every waking hour together, constantly sharing thoughts and an admiring look, the urge to touch, however briefly all adds to the charm and excitement of love before marriage.

The same immediately after marriage – begins with the feeling of euphoria at having got what you’ve wanted, the open acceptance of sexual attraction and display of physical intimacy, then settles in with the reassurance of having comfortably become part of your partner’s life.

Sometime later, the urge to spend every waking hour together recedes – not because your love changes but you take it for granted that you are together anyway, so what’s the point of wanting to express it. The mundane, surrounding environment, demanding careers, money matters, building a future, in-laws, relatives and children’s influences seeps in slowly, vying for equal attention. The response to the love you feel translates gradually into acceptance of the duties you must perform.

Perhaps sometimes the duties no longer feel as pleasurable and then, you respond to the love as pressure to adhere to the norm wanting to break free from it all.

Then again, sometimes a brief recollection of a moment spent together or a passing comment from a stranger makes you relook at your response. You delve into that moment to rebuild on the love you had felt, to draw strength from it and change your response.

That I suppose is the power of love – to adapt, mould, conform, accept, let go and refresh itself as and when required.