The simplicity of basic etiquette

Marriage creates a bond or rather fusion of individual identities. In a way, the “we” becomes more important than the “I”, as it should be. It’s a crucial element that strengthens the foundation of the relationship. But by force of habit we tend to take things for granted. I agree, it’s human nature but one that can be rewired every now and then.

Having an open line of communication is a must in the marital relationship. It’s the only relationship that allows you to be your true self without any inhibition or judgement. It’s up to each partner therefore to build that level of trust and create a space of comfort. It requires control, understanding, maturity and commitment.

The fallout is losing the basic glue that is essential for any relationship – an acknowledgement and acceptance of the other person as an individual and a recognition of their value in our lives. Within this, the simple expressions of “thank you…please…sorry…can I help…I understand” have the power to re-instil confidence in each other, and maintain and/or restore the sanctity of the relationship.

These words hold an infinitesimal amount of value in terms of making the partner feel loved, important and taken care of. It makes them want to do more, so much more. It raises the bar for the relationship. Simultaneously not using them often enough (or not meaning it when you say them!) makes the partner feel used, worthless, unappreciated and insecure.

Often it is said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Roles within the marriage can be defined but that doesn’t mean one partner’s contribution is anything less than the other. A lack thereof makes them feel lost. They’re unable to understand their position and importance within the relationship. It’s debilitating. They might continue to contribute but there’s no feelings attached leading to disappointment and unhappiness. Soon the feeling that there’s something missing in the relationship raises its ugly head.

Expectations of these basic tenets of etiquette can vary in degree and differ from person to person. When they are met, the level of expectation is lower. We tend to add value (mostly negative value) to our expectations when they’re not met. They can also get blown out of proportion! Often partners are heard saying, ‘s/he’s like that only.’ This isn’t just an acceptance that they will not reciprocate or acknowledge the meaning and impact of these simple words. It basically ensures that love is lost in the process thereby widening the small cracks within the marriage.

For example, ‘sorry’ doesn’t only mean you’re apologising for hurting the other. Most importantly, it means that you think your partner is worthy of your respect and in turn they believe that you’re worthy of being forgiven. Such is the power of the word.

If these are such ‘simple’ words, then why is it so hard to practice? When we fail to acknowledge our partner’s efforts, is it because we feel it’s our due and so there’s no point in asking politely? Do we view them as a sign of weakness? Does it make us question why everything our partner does needs to be appreciated? Or do we assume that the partner should know they’re important so it’s just a bother having to tell them that?

Perhaps, the next time you’re really happy about doing something for your partner or sorry for being difficult and you share this but your partner doesn’t acknowledge your efforts – question yourself about how it makes you feel within, and then about your partner and the relationship. Does it open the floodgate of similar bad memories from the past? This is a simple yet quick way to understand the importance of using these words in our daily lives.

Dating Rules: 16 things you should STOP doing today!

Let’s Face It, the rules for dating have changed drastically and one must (un)learn and (re)learn the new rules to be in the game! Wise Man is an entrepreneur, teacher, marketing and digital media expert. He shares his views on what not to do when dating.


Over the years, I have been in some really wonderful (and some horrible) relationships. In most instances, my ex and I have actually become good friends, and we still maintain a healthy relationship without impeding the other’s space.

However, over the last couple of years, I have had some terribly bad dates, and while in some cases I have questioned myself, I came to realize that some people have very different and possibly inaccurate expectations with regards to partners and relationships, and hence tend to have various bad experiences.

Based on my personal observations, I have compiled a list of things that we need to stop doing if we are ever to enter a healthy, romantic relationship again:

  • STOP being shy – If you never ask, the answer will always be no. You get one life; get out and live it.
  • STOP using a checklist – No one is ever going to be good enough if we have too many preexisting conditions and expectations.
  • STOP having your own agenda – There are two people in a relationship. Period. Find some common ground to connect on rather than just trying to find the best fit. It may work when it comes to shopping for shoes, but not when dating.
  • STOP looking at the other person like a cheque book – This is all too common, and while money is important, it takes two people to make a great relationship, and a large bank balance is never going to solve that.
  • STOP avoiding to communicate – If there is some confusion or reservations about the other person, talk to them. Lack of communication strengthens the confusion and creates further problems.
  • STOP living in the past – Comparing the person we are dating to people in the past is never going to make us happy in the present, nor will it allow us to move to a more positive future with another person.
  • STOP chatting online – While it’s important to communicate, and regularly so, texting, Facebook and Whatsapp messages can never come close to the real thing – they never convey the tone and feeling meant to be conveyed, and can sometimes lead conversations awry.
  • STOP discussing with friends about the person you are dating – It’s important for friends to meet the person you are dating (possibly with the intention to spend the rest of your life with), but you should do so only when you have independently made up your mind. Dating in today’s world is hard enough without the added confusion caused by other people who may not understand the circumstances, albeit with the best of intentions.


  • STOP waiting for the other person to be the one to always reach out – The rules of dating have changed. Want to talk to someone? Pick up the phone and call. Invite them to a coffee. If the person avoids you, move on. They’re not worth your time or perhaps they have their own issues to deal with.
  • STOP being so subjective – We can’t spend the rest of our life analyzing (most often over-analyzing) everything that happens. Don’t take things so personally, and let them build up within. They only get worse. Start looking at things differently. Only we have the power to change that.
  • STOP trying to change the person to suit yourself – Whether it’s clothes, hairstyle or even their car; always remember that you liked the person for who they were when you met them. And if they genuinely care about you, they will naturally be a better person as a result of the healthy relationship you share.
  • STOP losing confidence – a friend recently told me this, and I really appreciated her honesty. There are enough people out there who will try and make you feel bad, you may have a lot of bad experiences, but ultimately you will never be happy if you don’t love yourself, believe or be confident about yourself.
  • STOP making quick decisions – I cannot emphasize this enough. We live in a world where we make quick decisions about work, shopping and personal choices, and these shape the person we become. Take some time to get to know the other person, and be comfortable talking to them over a long period of time before making any decision. Be patient.
  • STOP asking the wrong questions (and giving the wrong answers) – OK, so perhaps there is nothing such as a wrong question or answer, but sometimes the manner in which the questions are asked can really push a person into a corner and make them uncomfortable. This only ensures answers that you may be uncomfortable with, and what’s worse, you may interpret them incorrectly. Take the time to get to know the person, be comfortable with each other, and then and only then broach the more important questions.
  • STOP being cynical – Yes, there are a lot of bad things that happen, and it’s getting harder to meet the right person. Yes, we are all getting older, and our families and friends put enough pressure on us. But not enjoying the experience of dating will never let us move ahead in life. Stop remembering all the bad things that happened in the past, and focus on the good aspects of dating.
  • STOP looking for the “right person” – There is no such thing as the right person – there is only a person that we enjoy being with, the person that we enjoy talking to, the person we are comfortable and secure with, and the person we want to come home to. Don’t focus too much on the choice, but how to adapt to each other, so that the relationship can be enjoyed equally.

Dating can be fun and it’s all a matter of perspectives. This has been my experience. I do hope that allowing yourself to look at it differently will help you have a better experience.

Happy Dating!


Let’s face it, sometimes you have to walk out to make an impact!

Continuing our series Let’s Face It! here are excerpts from an interview with Babita Jaishankar, CEO & Founder, WSol Fashion & Image Makeovers Pvt Ltd and Creative Director at Clothing Brand, BAJA.

Pottsandpan (PP): Being an image makeover consultant, how important is this with reference to marriage?

confrontBabita Jaishankar (BJ): The concept of image makeover today has been widely glamourized. It is much more than grooming oneself and wearing good clothes. It’s an amalgamation of one’s personality, lifestyle, personal goals and attitude. I was recently asked to work with a young girl whose parents are looking for a groom for her. My initial impression when I spoke with them was that they were looking for something ‘magical’ to happen! The girl didn’t seem to be enthusiastic but told me that she wanted to marry someone who would live with her in her parent’s house. This was something ‘she’ wanted and not her parents. I wondered if she was just being lazy about having to set-up her own home where the responsibility rested with her to make her new house her own home. Or was the concept of marriage overwhelming her? Presently she doesn’t help at home, doesn’t know how to cook or clean. Her mother does everything for her including shopping for clothes. The family tells her even the basic things to do like when to wear a dupatta (scarf)! How can this girl be ready for marriage? She’s going into an arranged marriage, by choice perhaps because somewhere there is this unsaid notion that everything will be taken care for her. There is clearly a mismatch of expectations. It surprised me that the parents had brought up their son who was confident yet had a daughter who was insecure and dependent. There was a larger issue at stake here – her personality needed to evolve and I will have to work building that before any external makeover can happen.

PP: In your experience what are the expectations with which men and women come to you for a makeover?

BJ: To begin with I’ve noticed a difference in people’s attitude towards their makeover session when they have been recommended to come to me from those who come to me on their own. When someone else asks them to come, they don’t take it as seriously as they feel like there is something wrong with them. If they come on their own, then it’s their innate need to want to make a change in their lives. Men come to me mostly to ‘look good’ or improve their ‘communication skills’ either with respect to applying for a job, improving career prospects or in their social interactions. They want to know what kind of clothes to wear, which brands they should opt for and of course, how they can impress women. Women on the other hand want a lot more – they want to feel confident in their daily interactions and want to ‘feel good’ about themselves.

PP: Women tend to make efforts to groom themselves before their marriage so they look incredibly beautiful at their wedding. Sometimes they lose this momentum when bogged down with marriage and responsibilities. Has that been your experience?

BJ: Yes the role of a mother / wife / working women / or someone who stays at home are all different and a woman’s image of herself changes accordingly. Each of these needs to be dealt with differently. One of my clients is someone who spends a lot of time doing puja and her wardrobe needs to cater to that. Grooming is something that women need to consciously do for themselves. It’s a way to say, ‘I care for myself.’

PP: You have two lovely daughters, how would you define your role as a mother / wife / business woman?

BJ: When I married I didn’t want to involve my parents with helping me setup home. I wanted to do it myself. It was difficult and there were days when I would cry but today I’m glad that I didn’t involve them. They too are proud of how I’ve been able to manage my family. After my first daughter was born, we moved to the US. There I did everything myself – cooking, cleaning, taking my daughter to the school, park, paying bills. My second daughter was born there and even with a young child I still pushed myself to manage the home well. In fact, my husband always came home to see a clean house and all the work done. I’ve invested hugely to bring up my children to be independent both in their outlook and lifestyle. If they wanted pocket money, they had to earn it. I delegated small tasks to them to enable them to value money. It also taught them time management. Today they not only help with the housework but also the cooking and baking. After I started WSol, I ensured I kept 7.30 – 9.30 in the evening free to just be with my children. Sometimes today if I have to urgently make a call I do ask my elder daughter for help to take care of her little sister. They know that I will spend time with them and if I have to make a call it must be important. I’ve openly told my family that this is as much their home as mine and I haven’t signed a contract to be the chef, maid or cleaner. They know that it’s no one’s specific job to clean up. Everyone has a similar stake in keeping the home clean. I’ve tried to strike a balance with all these three aspects of my life.

PP: Has it helped that you didn’t have much interference from extended family with bringing up your children?

BJ: My mother-in-law passed away before my wedding and my father -in-law has always been open-minded. I cannot comment about the lack of interference because I’ve never experienced it. The extended family has always seen my commitment to my family and how well I’ve managed everything. I’ve always endeavoured to make my children ‘street smart’, that way they can survive in any situation. As far as my parents are concerned, they know that they can pamper my children and do everything that is expected from grandparents. But disciplining the children is a joint task for my husband and me as parents. We are a team when it comes to bringing up the children. Even if one of us is part of an argument or tussle with the children, the other party doesn’t actively get involved. The children too by now know that they cannot play us, one against the other.

PP: How do you deal with the pressures of everyday life?

BJ: During a recent conversation with my daughter, she mentioned that she loved daddy more because he was always there to do the fun things with her. I was disappointed as I wanted her to be aware that during her growing up years, I had spent all my time taking care of her every need. But I also realised that the fault lies with us – as mothers we tend to put the father on a pedestal, making him the superhero. I guess what I truly wanted was for my daughter to think that I was a superhero too!

Much has been written about how a mother’s mood decides how the family feels. I’ve brought up my children to be independent but sometimes that too makes me feel guilty. I wonder if I’m taking them for granted! During moments of extreme pressure and tension, I’ve actually walked out of home. I’ve taken my book and sat at a coffee shop reading the entire day. I’ve switched off my phone. I don’t believe in passing on my tension and anger to my children and I know if I remain in the house during those trying times I will vent out on them. Moving away from the situation has not only helped me to keep my sanity but it’s had a positive impact on my family too.

PP: You always look so well turned out, have you always been like this?

BJ: No, I haven’t. If you saw pictures of me as a young girl or during the early years of marriage, you’ll see a different person. I’ve always been an attractive person and would get unwarranted attention from boys. I blamed myself thinking it was my fault and so I would dress up shabbily to shy away from such attention. I was so put off by this that I told my parents to find me a match as I didn’t trust anyone. It’s much later in life that I became comfortable with who I was as a person. I realised that I didn’t need a man to make me feel sexy. Today I dress up for myself.

PP: How long have you known your husband? What do you think has been the one thing that has strengthened your relationship?

BJ: We’ve known each other for 17 years now and I think the fact that I didn’t try to “change him” in all that time played a crucial role. Initially there were moments when I wanted him to react in a certain way but he didn’t, I wanted him to respond differently but he didn’t. We sat down to talk about it and I was taken aback when he said, ‘if you wanted my help or wanted me to react differently, why didn’t you ask me?’ In the US he always came home to a clean, well-managed house so he didn’t extend any support solely because he thought I didn’t need any help. He assumed I would take care of it just like I did. Today I don’t wait for him to become aware of my needs, I tell him. It’s essential to have an open line of communication.

PP: What is your opinion about love in a marriage? What advice would you give young people wanting to commit to one another?

assumptionsBJ: I think love is overrated. Marriage needs much more than just love to survive. Keeping love aside, one has to understand the other person’s routine, lifestyle, their needs, strengths and weaknesses. Not knowing what the other person wants can lead to unnecessary assumptions. Men are a lot more straight-forward in their thinking while women tend to not only carry more baggage but let it linger on for longer. You get into a marriage because you want to and that gives you the impetus to deal with it. One cannot feel like they’re sacrificing when dealing with issues that crop up. Within our extended family I’m the link between my husband and everyone else. I’m the ‘centre-point’ of my husband’s life as I know he relies on me for everything. As a person I have different groups that I interact with. His dependency on me gives me a lot of strength but is also scary at times.

PP: Do you think there is a need for marriage preparation?

BJ: Unfortunately no one prepares you for marriage. In an arranged marriage especially no one informs you about how you should feel during the very first night with your husband. What if it hurts, if you feel violated, if you feel unsure about doing it right – all these are concerns that crop up. People do talk to friends, families or surf the net but these are personal feelings and views. To each his own – it’s always different and it would help to be aware of the little things. Marriage helps to bind a family together. I feel very secure when I return home after a long day – seeing ‘my own’ people at home waiting for me makes me feel really good about myself.  But along the way it’s been a lot of hard work.

Great Expectations

It irritates me no end, when –

– he leaves the toilet seat wet

– he potters around the house, picking up stuff to clean, set right, move around

– he rummages through the fridge wondering why there is still left over food, why the fish bought weeks ago is still uncooked

– he walks through every store in a mall before buying something or sometimes deciding against buying anything at all

It irritates him no end, when –

– I leave my day clothes hanging around for days without giving them for a wash or putting them away to wear another day

– I laze around the house, especially on weekends not wanting to go out or do anything

– I don’t take the initiative to keep the house clean or fridge stocked rightly, when I look clueless if he asks if we need to buy grocery

– I would rather read a book, play Sudoku, watch television than wanting to simply go window shopping or going to the mall or visiting relatives

Yet we’ve been married for 10 years now. We’ve both come to accept each other’s drawbacks. We’ve learnt to ignore some of these, make some adjustments (like I simply use toilet paper to clean the toilet seat instead of screaming at him / he decides what we should do over a weekend instead of leaving it to me) and we push ourselves to do certain things even if we still hate them – just because the other person wants to do them.

We share and update each other about different aspects of our lives but yes, there are still things which we don’t openly discuss as they might have adverse effect on each other, which we feel will hurt the other person, which is painful to even express. Over the years there have been some unvoiced expectations that hurt and made us angry, we’ve even had huge arguments without expressing ourselves clearly. Sometimes the communication has been good, sometimes its backfired.

Our expectation of each other has also undergone a change – or perhaps we’ve just come to know each other well enough to sometimes accept that certain expectations are useless to have! Some are no longer expectations as we know that’s how we will respond and react while for others we have come to accept and respect our different points of view.