Marriage can be such an eye-opener about our spouse and about oneself too. We sometimes wish that our spouse was similar to us and did things just the way we like to do it … wouldn’t it make our lives easier and more harmonious? If only God had created us as clones!
She says …
When Abhishek and I were married – it almost felt like an achievement! An achievement, because our society approves of marriage being a major milestone in our lives. It is an accepted institution and we had arrived. However, it’s only after the wedding day that married life actually begins and we realized that we ‘had hardly arrived at all. Let me rephrase that – we had made a start and marriage was no achievement but a journey where we had a choice to try making the journey together. We were now a team!
My husband is a man on the go! His day is good if he was able to complete his tasks planned for the day. He’s a strategist who loves to find the best possible route to do a task efficiently. In other words, Abhishek looks at the journey before him and charts his course – he plans before he takes the dive. Reflective by nature, I observe my environment and makes decisions as I walk the road.
So initially in marriage I was trying my hand at following Abi’s list of ‘to do’ things and guess what? I was trying to run with him, eager to keep up with him – ticking off tasks from learning to drive to keeping a household budget and buying various gadgets for the home. I was a bit frustrated and I knew I could not carry on this way!
Why? I’m very different from Abhishek. I had my ‘to do list’ too but in many ways it was different from Abhishek’s. I search for meaning in both tasks and relationships. My way of loving Abhishek was to listen to his dreams and fears, and be his support. His way of loving me was to take the initiative to get all the practical aspects efficiently worked out.
Well, whose list was right – Abhishek’s or mine? The answer to that was both of us needed the other. Both our lists combined would look so much better! Some years back I read an article which spoke about how when we search for a spouse, we unconsciously search for someone who can enrich our life. A man or woman looks for a partner who may be similar in some ways but is often different in others. I am usually attracted to somebody who is in some way my opposite. Research shows that opposite personalities do attract one another because one completes the other.
His practicality has empowered me in many ways. I marvel at how different we are … he runs and I walk, he’s the implementer and I’m the ideas person, he’s the consistent one and I’m the creative one, he plans our holidays and I plan the surprise during the week … the list goes on.
Just the other day, I was busy clearing up toys, folding the clothes and generally getting my household tasks done. My husband was telling our daughter, Mahima a story, answering her millions of questions and giving her an occasional hug and kiss. I stopped and smiled. We were both content doing what was actually quite uncharacteristic of us. Some of Abhishek had rubbed off on me and vice versa.
I can’t help but agree that opposites attract and this is what makes marriage special. I sometimes really wonder how couples enter marriage expecting compatibility and similarity, only to be divorced on grounds of “incompatibility”. We’ve got to expect and accept the differences in our spouse.
The first time we realized how different we are, was when we were going through pre-marital counselling. We were asked to share our expectations from our partner and, to our surprise, we were so different in what we wanted from each other. Thankfully, this helped us expect and accept our differences before we entered marriage.
Over time, we’ve found some ways to use our differences to complement each other. Stuthi has always been very empathetic and sensitive to other’s emotions. So I’ve learnt to depend on Stuthi to guide me in the way I relate to others and avoid bulldozing my way into other’s lives. Even in small things like giving gifts at weddings, I always go about choosing something that is useful and practical, while Stuthi writes the note and gives it to the new couple. I can’t help but marvel at God’s way of building marriages; it would have been so incomplete if our partner was similar. God indeed knows us best!
We enter marriage as adults. From mere opinions, personalities, gender, family of origin, personal baggage, etc, the differences between two adults can be too many to count. It’s enough to overwhelm a couple. While some differences are complementary, others are contradictory in nature too. These opposing needs or aspects need mutual respect, space for the individual and a workable consensus. Togetherness does not mean loss of individuality but a celebration of each one’s uniqueness.
Marriage is about two imperfect humans coming together, striving to strike a balance and making a choice to make the journey with each other. Can any couple at any point say that they’ve arrived and there’s nothing more to be done! We would rather like to say – we’re still on a journey.
Published in the July 2013 issue of the Forward Press magazine