LOVE IS NOT ALL IT TAKES

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When we are young, we are so caught up with the pure love and the sex life, that it is natural to throw wind to caution. We think, feel and behave like we own our partner and there is an unconscious desire and attempt to merge our partner into our own identity.

A couples’ relationship starts with being madly in love with each other and spending the initial honeymoon years in bliss. And then life happens, the newness dies and the so called ‘defects’ in the partner seem looming large to destroy the relationship. It is the partner who is perceived to be responsible for the falling apart of the relationship.

Wisdom acquired from being a couples’ therapist, as well as growing older, making my own relationship mistakes and passing through the same phase of life, has taught me one valuable lesson of awareness that I wish to give all the lovely couples out there who are going through a rough patch in their relationship. When we are young, we are so caught up with the pure love and the sex life, that it is natural to throw wind to caution. We think, feel and behave like we own our partner and there is an unconscious desire and attempt to merge our partner into our own identity. And that is where lies the problem. There is a utopic idea that my life is the perfect one because my partner is ideal. I am the bringer of happiness for my partner as s/he is to me. During the honeymoon phase, a couple blinded by feelings of love for the partner is immune to their partner’s shortcomings. Hence the term ‘blind love’. If the wife wakes up late, husband brings tea to the bed and rouses his wife with a kiss. If she doesn’t dress well enough, the husband brings a new dress or politely suggests a different combination (suggestion being accepted with much grace). Or if the husband keeps his wet towel on the bed, the wife simply smiles and puts it away. Or if he throws his shoes and socks all around the room, she politely reminds him where the shoe rack is and he dutifully obliges. Both try to make the other fit into their way of life, do things the way they do, see life from their perspective – the unconscious attempt to merge their partners’ identity into their own!

The merger of identities creates boundaries, or one might say, puts shackles in the partner’s feet. Everyone wants freedom to live their life in their own way, freedom to exist in the same way as they did before you came along. It is a folly to forget this! A well-formed identity will never remain in the shadow of another for long, irrespective of the love. The idea of ‘perfection’ eventually lends a resounding kick in the bottom once the honeymoon period is over and life takes over. No one is perfect. It is now the husband who wants to wake up late and expects the wife to wake up early and bring the tea to bed. Her lack of dressing sense has begun to irritate him as he just cannot understand how she could be so ‘dumb’. She loathes him for being so critical towards her dressing all the time. At the same time, the wife cannot simply accept the fact how her husband can be so careless to put his wet towel on the bed and shrieks when he leaves his shoes and socks all over the room. Of course, he cannot stand her screaming at all. A sense of betrayal and despair sets in. And as years go by, the couple is sickened to the core at their partner’s transgressions. And finally they land up at the office of a couples’ therapist.

GOLDEN RULES FOR COUPLES:

-Know and respect that your partner is his own person who has an individual identity of his own.

-Validate your partner in an argument but remember to validate yourself too. Everyone’s point of view is correct from their point of view and they do not want to be invalidated.

-Stop the screaming folks! It won’t take you anywhere. Screaming indicates loss of control and will only serve to fuel the differences. Do not stonewall either. It makes matters worse.

-There is no place for violence in any relationship.

-Please, Thank you, I am sorry, are golden words and will remain so until eternity. Repeat often!

-Care, care, and care at all times. Your partner needs to know that you care no matter what.

-Keep the respect alive in the relationship. Hold it like you cling to very life. Screaming, hitting, abusing, throwing things, neglecting/snubbing partner are acts that make you lose your dignity and respect in your partner’s eyes. When respect dies, love gets tossed out of the window.

-Let go of small things like naming your pet cat Max instead of Lucifer.

-Let others whom you trust implicitly and who have given evidence of maturity in their relationships to intervene if you cannot resolve things yourself.

-Moms, allow your children to know and understand that it is different with dad.

-Men, let women decide the colour and design of the curtains please!

-Appreciate simply, the presence of your partner.

-Appreciate the fact that you both have risen from different backgrounds. Some even have different cultures. Forgiving your partner will become easier.

-Be kind. Please, please, please be kind and tolerant.

-Strive to remain healthy with balanced meals and exercise. It is unfair to expect your partner to nurse you to health for a very long time. Sometimes life deals a blow by making you terminally ill. Even at such time, expecting your partner to tend to your needs is unfair. Accept this fact.

-Know that you had your own life and your partner her/his own, before you came along. Indulge in that life as well. The source of happiness for your partner cannot be you alone or vice versa.

-Do not be overly sensitive towards flirtatious behavior. Sometimes a person’s personality is naturally charming and alluring and attracts opposite sex. Don’t make your partner shrivel because you cannot handle your own insecurity. Instead, be proud. If you suspect infidelity, don’t lower yourself by checking her/his phone or hacking emails. Remember: If a partner has to stray, s/he will! There is unfortunately nothing you can do about it. Take care of your own mental health by allowing them to go.

-Relationships are dynamic and continuously evolve. This is because with time and age, people change. Respect that and put in your efforts to keep the relationship alive.

-Be attuned to your partner. Be vigilant to change of mood or activity and care enough to ask “what’s the matter?”

I would finally like to sign off with this most wonderful quote from the movie, ‘Ghosts of the Girlfriends Past’:

‘Someone once told me that the power in all relationships lies with whoever care less, and he was right. But power isn’t happiness, and I think that maybe happiness comes from caring more about people rather than less…’

Let the candle of love keep burning bright! Celebrate love! Cheers!

Aparna

Disclaimer: Hi Folks! Disclaimers need not be curt and mean. So I am going to make this one as polite as possible. There may be some underpinnings of Indian culture in all my blogs that may not match with the ideas of other cultures. My international audience may therefore wish to be mindful of the same while reading my blogs. Thank you! Keep your smile on always!!

 

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