Decisions

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!

Why?

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 package deal

Love marriage or arranged marriage – when you marry, you marry into a family. It’s a package deal! Family can include immediate relations like grandparents, parents, siblings or distant relatives and friends. It’s prudent to remember that one’s equation with these relations will have substantial impact on the marriage.

Growing up, I believed I would fall in love, then marry and live happily ever after. A daily dose of romantic novels strengthened this notion. Upbringing in a nuclear family also ensured, that to me, marriage meant a joining of two people who loved and lived for each other. You only needed to make the necessary compromises and adjustments to accommodate your partner and you would have a happy marriage.

I did interact with my husband’s family before marriage but somehow didn’t bargain for the package deal that I would immediately inherit on marrying him! I don’t think he did either.

Face front, his was a nuclear family too, which included his parents and sibling. But they were equally close to the extended family on both his parents’ side.  News regularly travelled within this circuit and advice was freely given and received. Cumulative opinions, views, sentiments shaped one’s outlook and actions. Like minded people’s sensitivity added value while sometimes our upbringing and thinking clashed with the others.

It’s interesting to note here that acceptance into the ‘family’ was never an issue – the only difference was in the level of acceptance. Like every relationship, relatives freely attributed qualities to me as they deemed fit. Depending on their personal views and outlook, they interpreted my behaviour. Simultaneously, I too, formed my own views depending on how much I liked them, agreed with them, accepted their limitations or outright rejected their narrow thinking.

Ideally I could have been happy if I was able to maintain a mental distance from these influences and behave logically. Or like my husband, if I had the unique ability to deal with each person and situation separately then the journey would have been easier. Unfortunately, for me, it was always a package!

I realised this early on in the marriage and it led to relatives developing skewed notions about me. I had no choice except to simply accept it. My husband, on the other hand, evolved to be well liked and loved, not only by his family but mine too!