Beyond love, what is necessary to make a house a home?

One of the biggest challenges of a relationship is transforming a house into a home. Home is defined as the place where one lives, especially as a member of a family or household. But a home is much more than just a place to live in! It’s where you run to in your hour of need, fear and anxiety. It provides solace and peace of mind. It protects you from the harshness of the world. It allows you to be yourself and takes care of you. It also provides a sense of belongingness and identity.

 

As the relationship progresses, how does the home change?

 

The concept of home changes under certain circumstances. Namely, you could be newly married and have to move in to live with your in-laws. It’s their house and you’ll have to fit in. To begin with, perhaps the only place you can truly call your own will be your bedroom. Only there, you’ll have the freedom to add in elements that reflect your style and personality.

 

Another scenario involves you or your partner moving to another city for a new job or posting. It means finding a house that not only suits your basic needs but also your budget. Or you might be in a live-in relationship and although you’re madly in love with your partner, you don’t particularly like his or her taste in home décor.

 

Then again, you might be a couple who moves to a new city every 3-4 years to fulfil their need for travel, meeting new people and keeping their life and relationship exciting. You might believe in living life in style and love entertaining. That could entail a spruced up home that constantly goes through a makeover every few months to keep it new, fresh and trendy.

 

Whatever your relationship status, your bond of togetherness is strengthened by your ability to create a home.

 

Beyond the need for understanding, love and acceptance that a successful home life requires, there is also a more practical aspect to consider!

 

Often specific items of furniture, knickknacks, appliances, or décor ascertain the identity of a home. Some people might have a favourite corner of the house to call their own or a favourite piece of furniture. They derive a feeling of safety and warmth from these. In fact, it’s interesting to see how upset and disturbed they feel when these are moved, something else is put in their place, or they’re given away.

 

Within these parameters, recreating a living space with furniture that uniquely reflects your personalities is often hard. Sometimes, after purchasing a piece of furniture you realize that it doesn’t suit the space or match with the rest of the decor. When living in a rented apartment, spending too much money on furniture can seem unnecessary. In addition, you’ll have to forcibly tag them along no matter where you go or whatever you achieve in terms of income and position in life. It can be extrapolated to reflect your old mindset and standard of living.

 

Generally, furniture is considered to be big-ticket items and the buying experience can lead to arguing about size, shape, style and personal preference. Then there are budgetary considerations especially if both of you have divergent views on financial matters. Often one partner might only look for utility while the other needs to feel house proud. For the less vocal partner, forcibly having to adjust to living arrangements can make them feel unhappy and discontented which in turn can impact their personal interactions.

 

How to make a house your home?

 

Therefore, the way forward would be to find alternatives or solutions that address both partner’s needs and wants. Sometimes just the effort put in to find a solution helps make compromising easier. Another quick solution includes renting furniture and home appliances from a tried and tested online rental company with a wide geographical presence like Cityfurish. It’s a win from many aspects including comfort, elegance, quality product, great service post delivery and value for money. When you tire of a particular look, without too much effort and investment you can easily look at renting a newer look for your home. Or you can buy off any piece of furniture you fall in love with.

 

Making a home requires both partners working jointly to create a safe haven for themselves. More importantly, taking care of the necessities frees up that much more time and mental space for you to strengthen other aspects of your lives.

 

That Elusive Hug

Often, there are moments in life when all you really need is a ‘hug,’ not diamond earrings or the latest smartphone or a holiday or birthday bash. That tight hug which says “I love you…I won’t let you go…you matter…you’re the best thing to happen to me…I’m lost without you… you make me complete…I need you…”

She missed that hug and it made her feel so alone, helpless and unwanted. Quintessential housewife married into a well-to-do family, she had everything going for her. Yet she was carrying on with life running on emptiness.

Some days she felt emotionally bereft and had nothing more to give yet the expectation remained that she would because of the different roles she played. Often, she justified to herself, ‘they need you, your child needs you, without you the house would fall apart. You have to stand strong to make everything alright.’ But how? Where could she go for that dose of love and affection which was given without any expectation, a dose that was only meant for her well-being and sustenance, that which could keep the fire burning in her heart?

She knew he loved her. He was a good man, a good provider, father and husband. Yet often, he took out his frustrations on her saying things which made her feel as if she didn’t exist. He belittled her, spoke rudely or brushed her off without a thought. Sometimes she yelled back, she stood up for herself and yet there were times she stoically took it all in. In those moments, it wasn’t like she didn’t have anything to say but kept quiet because she cared too much and didn’t want to break their bond any further.

Her child was her lifeline and she did everything to make her comfortable. She knew her child loved her as much but even then, there were times she felt used and tired. Her in-laws were really nice which overwhelmed her, inadvertently forcing her to bend over backwards for them.

She was at a crossroads where everything seemed good yet there was something missing. Was she looking for an acknowledgement for all her hard work when in actuality she was simply playing her role as expected? If life seemed so balanced between the good and the bad, then why did she feel unsatisfied? And amidst it all, she was still surviving, wasn’t she, even though it was a day at a time? How?

Earlier, when the closeness was strong and the brief moments of togetherness aplenty, she could run a mile because she felt his love in her veins. Today, she missed them so badly. Instead she searched for those moments in every chick flick, television serial or book. She loved to read about people falling in love. She relived moments of attraction and bittersweet separation in the lives of star-crossed lovers. She would watch serials only till the lovers openly professed their love. After they did she would automatically lose interest. Sometimes she stopped watching the serials if the protagonists got married, simply because then their lives became dangerously close to her own. She didn’t want to deal with theirs when she was unable to find solace in her own.

Unfortunately, she felt alive only till she was engrossed in watching those movies or serials. Once they ended, the feelings slipped away and she could no longer find them. Soon they became her source of sustenance to continue living.

Sometimes she felt attracted to other men, both young and old. These were not good looking men (the typical Mills & Boons version of tall, dark and handsome that she had grown up reading) but most often they would have strong arms, or they towered over her making her feel protected. She would imagine being kissed, or making passionate love and then sometimes she could also see herself being pulled into their arms for that elusive hug!

Of course, she never acted upon any of these emotions. Did she lack the gumption to exhibit these feelings openly? Sometimes, she did feel similar vibes coming from them too. Was she just being naïve or had she imagined them? Or perhaps that wasn’t the point, at all. These were feelings to be felt not acted upon. They were not meant to be. She wanted those things done to her because she wanted to feel wanted and longed for. Perhaps that was all there was to it.

Suddenly she longed for that feeling of closeness, of being held, of feeling safe within the confines of strong arms. The longing slowly grew so strong that she quickly switched on an episode of a serial that she had seen a thousand times before. Her face broke into a smile as she watched the look of love and desire on their faces, and the momentary lapse of reason when he reached out to her and pulled her close, holding her tight and she reciprocated clinging on to him for dear life.

(That Elusive Hug was first published on Women’s Web on 16 November 2017 / Image source: Flickr, for representational purposes only)

Let’s Face It, men like independent, successful women as long as they are not their wives!

Most often, even though single women don’t make a concerted effort, they’re open to giving Mr Right a shot if he happens to come along. The Girl is an established professional, well-travelled and very independent. She is someone who can throw her head back and have a good laugh, believes life is an adventure and there are more things to learn and see than possible in one lifetime.

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Pottsandpan (PP): Marriage has been on the cards for you for a while now, including subtle pressure from family. How do you deal with it?

The Girl (TG): Well, the questions are subtle as well as overt, specially when you are attending any family function. I start with a nice smile, and politely say “I’m still waiting for the right person.” And if that doesn’t cut it, I just counter it with another smile and say, “well seems like no one wants to marry me!” Both work, depending on which generation in the family I’m talking to.

 

PP: What are some of the questions people ask when they’re keen to know your marriage plans?

TG: Well they broadly range between…

  • Why aren’t you getting married, don’t you think it’s time?
  • When will you get married? We won’t be able to do any work during your marriage, we are getting old, so marry fast!
  • Well, have you decided you don’t want to get married?
  • If you want to get married, you should start thinking about it seriously!
  • Who are you waiting for? They are all handsome princes at the start and become Johnny Walker as life progresses (yes! Some of my close friends (and business heads) have actually told me this)
  • You look nice, earn well, you travel the world, how come you have not met anyone yet? (Duh! I think in my head, you asked me a question I haven’t been able to answer myself, maybe you can answer it for me!)

 

PP: What has been the inanest question someone’s asked you about marriage?

TG: I would say the one where someone looked me up from head to toe to determine that I wasn’t a “defective” piece and wondered why I was not married yet. I am sure some people think I am a closet case :-p

 

PP: What are the 3 key qualities you would want to look for in your future partner? Why do you think they’re important?

TG: In my mind it’s a simple ask. I’m looking for someone who is comfortable in his own skin and therefore is willing to let me be comfortable in mine, someone who is kind and humane and has a sense of humour.

One would think the ask is simple, but apparently, it does not come easy.

 

PP: In general, the usual expectations from a marriage have been buying a house together, a car, traveling to exotic locations – now you’ve already accomplished all that by yourself! If and when you do tie the knot what do you think your expectations will be?

TG: The expectation would be to spend the next 30+ years (known as rest of my life) with someone who wants to spend his life with me too. For companionship, for being there when its good and bad, for sharing experiences and actually working together to leave a legacy of sorts, together.

 

PP: Is marriage really needed today? What are your views?

TG: Marriage as it was known in yester years, where it was more for security, both financial and social is less of a requirement today. Marriage for companionship, for being supportive of each other, to share and to give space to each other seems more the necessity. As an institution, I guess it did build the society, but with women being well educated, supported by their parents, financially well off it is less a “need” and more a choice. The institution nevertheless I believe still needs to exist to give society a framework to go by. I think it gives an arena for one to think beyond oneself and for the larger cause called family, which therefore brings forward the good in people. Not saying that not marrying doesn’t make you good, but marriage does make you put others before yourself.

 

PP: There was a meme on a social media site recently where at a wedding, the priest is seen reprimanding the groom saying the answer is “I do” and not “I’ll try!” Do you think it reflects the reality of today’s life?

TG: A commitment is a commitment, which is what you exchange as you say your vows (doesn’t matter in what language or religion). The reality of today’s life is things are so abundant that one has a plethora of choices and can move from one to the other very easily. Relationships, marriage, friendships, family ties need to be nurtured and cared for. It’s not an expectation alone which both parties have to live up to but also somewhere they both need to drop the ego and find the middle path for a larger cause. At times, though one party has to walk all the way to the other instead of meeting in the middle. Often, one has to gulp the ego and move forward. This is easier said than done. However, if you are confident that both of you want the same larger cause it’s easier to do and if the cause isn’t common, then drifting apart and justifications become easier.

 

PP: How long have your parents been married? What do you think has been the secret to their success?

TG: 47 years! I think their ability to respect each other and let go when required was the key. It also underlies love, compassion and understanding each other, which some may call getting used to one another.

 

PP: What is the one advice they gave you for selecting a life partner? Are they in sync with your views?

TG: It is important for partners to be complimentary in nature, don’t choose someone with the exact same character traits as yourself. Initially I was surprised, but I realized they meant traits and not qualities. I’m strong willed and decision oriented, and need a patient partner to deal with me. Patience isn’t one of my strongest suits, though it may be stronger in comparison to some others.

 

PP: Have you been meeting prospective partners? What has been your experience? How do these men react and respond to a successful and independent woman like you?

TG: Yes, in spurts, I haven’t made a very concerted effort. The experience has been less than desirable, probably why the concerted effort hasn’t happened. Men like independent, successful women as long as they are not their wives.

 

PP: What are your views on financial equality in a marriage? Do you think you will be okay if your husband earns less than you?

TG: When I was starting my career, I wanted someone earning equal or more because of the needs one has, to build the basics in life. But at this stage of my life, my views on this is far more liberal since I’m not looking at anyone to take care of my financial needs. Yes, it is ok for my husband to earn less than me, but the “quantum” of less should be defined. I’m used to a certain lifestyle, giving it up almost entirely will not be easy. The same way I don’t fancy being anyone’s trophy wife nor do I suspect that I will ever choose a trophy husband (please remember, that’s not the same as being a house husband).

 

PP: What is the position that love holds in your life? Between love and respect, which do you think is the most important element in a successful marriage?

TG: I think it is important to have love in your life, to hold someone else dearer to you than yourself. I think love and respect are both equally important in a successful marriage. Respect allows you to be you, otherwise you will be looking for validation or taking out your wrath by being derogatory to others or worse, lose your self-confidence and become a victim. Love is something you feel, you give and you make happen – quite like respect, but a lot more ephemeral. You can see it in simple everyday things which you usually take for granted verses actually appreciating it. That’s because we all “expect” it from our partners, we don’t give them credit for being there all the time, if not physically but emotionally at least.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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  • 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!

 

With due respect (Part 2)

This three part series aims to discuss one of the key cornerstones for any healthy relationship –Mutual Respect.

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Anuttama Dasgupta, part time urban design consultant, full time mother and soon to be pubished author, shares her personal understanding of respect in a relationship.

 

I am a diarist. From the time I was twelve years old, I have kept a private journal in one form or the other. The practice serves me well in the work that I do today as a writer and designer because it allows me to fish out the good ideas from the general morass of thoughts that my mind generates. I owe this space to my family and to the two roommates I’ve lived with who have never for a day given me cause to worry that my private universe may be trespassed upon.

As a teenager, I remember, I would purposefully keep my dairy lying around to see if any of my family members would pick it up and read it. Not that there was anything particularly scandalous in those pages. The angst-ridden stream of consciousness of a teenage girl might be the most boring read ever. But that was not the point. The point was would anyone in my family get so curious as to violate the one unspoken rule in our house that no matter what, we never took a peek into each other’s private affairs. We did not open each other’s letters. We did not rummage in each others’ purses and bags. We did not listen in on private conversations on the extension phone. We were even dissuaded from reading the newspaper over each other’s shoulders. My father and I went so far in our mutual respect as to solve the Telegraph Quick Crossword in pencil so that the other could erase the solutions and have the pleasure of starting from scratch. So far as my diary was concerned, it was often picked up…from the sofa, from the cane chair on the verandah when the rain came in…only to be put back on my study table but never, ever was it read.

I never thought of these little things as particularly important but as I grew up and stepped into the bigger world outside, I realized it had formed an invaluable personal metric for me to measure respect for personal boundaries in a relationship. Popular media constantly plies us with the idea of instant success. Like instant noodles and instant coffee, falling in love, that too at first sight is supposed to solve all our relationship issues in one stroke. But, in reality, falling in love is not the same as making a relationship work, that too over an extended period of time. Love counts for a lot but so does respect. In fact, when it comes to the most intimate relationships of our lives where we share our personal space with someone, love can easily go out of the window if a sufficient amount of respect is not there.

When we think of respect, what commonly comes to mind is the veneration or admiration we feel for someone who is superior to us in some way. In our materialistic culture, that means high ‘net worth individuals’ and movie stars. But the other meaning of respect is regard for the feelings, wishes and rights of others regardless of whether they are higher or lower than us in the social hierarchy. This is the form of respect that comes into play in our every day interactions with other human beings, especially our partners and children. Having a vague idea what love is all about, many of us end up equating love to control. This might be news to a lot of people but trying to run a loved one’s life is a boundary violation. So is hovering around our loved ones like a helicopter and micro-managing their affairs to the extent that they forget how to think for themselves or quake at the thought of speaking up for themselves. One of the most egregious examples of lack of respect is when we force-feed others. Everyone, including children, has a workable sense of their own hunger and thirst. To supersede it with ideas of our own as to how much they should eat and how often, we are not only showing disrespect, we are setting them up for a lifetime of weight-related problems.

Even if we are not conscious of it, many of us do get the concept of a physical personal bubble because of its overlap with sexual boundaries. But the same can’t be said of the psychological bubble and by extension, the equally important, social media bubble. All around us are the peekers and sneakers: spouses and partners who think nothing of looking through their significant other’s mobile phones or browser histories as if it was their birth right. We all know those suspicious spouses who keep a constant tab on their partners’ Facebook friend’s lists. Then there are the folks who proudly announce to the world that they have access to their partner’s email accounts. I find this particularly disturbing as it shows complete lack of respect not only for the partner but to all those people who are writing to them in confidence.

The thing is you can still be close to someone without invading their private space. As Kahlil Gibran so famously said, “The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” In fact, a part of respecting others and giving them their space is to keep your own curiosity, suspicions and speculations at bay. If something is bothering you, you can always ask them about it but you cannot snoop around behind their backs. That to me spells absolute lack of respect. If you want your partner to trust you, you have to learn how to live with the amount of information that he/ she freely shares with you. You have to accept that others have the right to tell us things at their own time and pace. Not only that, they are entitled to their own secrets if they want to have a few. A relationship is not a confessional. Nor is it a customs declaration. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that in a normal, healthy relationship it is always fun to discover things along the way. Counter intuitively, the less we pry and poke, the more freely confidences are shared. The more we allow our loved ones to be who they are (instead of who we would like them to be) and respect their boundaries and preferences, the stronger the relationship is.  Love may be the fuel that keeps a relationship going, but respect is the cement that holds it all together.

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With due respect (Part 3), will explore ways to develop self respect for oneself so that it can enhance feelings of mutual respect between partners.