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The assumptions we make in marriage


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Happy coupleIt was around six in the evening. I was sitting in an ice-cream parlour, patiently biding my turn to be served. From time to time, my eyes would involuntarily turn to the middle-aged couple sitting across me, happily dipping into each other’s bowl of nuts and ice-cream. Suddenly, the man decided to spoon some ice-cream into his lady love’s mouth but just at that moment she raised her hand and accidentally hit the spoon which fell with a loud clatter to the floor. All heads turned to watch them but the man just bent, picked up the spoon and leaned over the table to plant a kiss on his companion’s forehead.

From where I sat I could see a faint blush spread over her cheeks and it was impossible not to notice her happiness. On an impulse I walked on over and told them how good I felt just watching them. They invited me to join them for the celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary! And before long I became friends with a couple in whose company,I experienced the comfort of just being myself. Some couples are like that. Being with such people is like partaking in a symphony of joy.

Mr. and Mrs. D’souza seemed the perennially ‘in love’ couple. To most of us youngsters, they were a source of constant inspiration. They did everything with exemplary gusto, even when they fought or argued. At that point of time I remember how a close friend of ours had been going through a particularly excruciating phase in marriage.

Despite being married to a well-off man, she was bitterly aware of being alone as far as her financial liabilities were concerned. She couldn’t bring herself to discuss her problems with her husband for fear of incurring his wrath. I still recall Mrs. D’souza’s advice to my friend:
“There is no substitute for open communication with your spouse. Tell him what’s bothering you. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of your feelings being shoved under the carpet. If you keep quiet, the problem will divide you.” Unfortunately, fear of her husband’s disapproval never allowed my friend to share her problems with her spouse, eventually causing her to drift away from the marriage.

The biggest mistake most married people make is to presume that they know exactly how their partners are going to react. My friend assumed that given his track record of stinginess, her husband would condemn her for her unwarranted extravagance. Who knows, had she but mustered the guts to let him in on her worries, he might have been able to advise her on her future projects involving money?

Hardly ever does it happen in marriage that a crisis just builds up overnight. Most problems come about as a result of a couple’s ‘ostrich like’ behaviour. You suspect there’s a problem but you look the other way pretending what you cannot see, can never hurt you. That given time problems will just disappear. It never has, it never will.

Another attitude that can spell trouble in the long run is that terrible human proclivity stemming from over-confidence and the “I know it all’ stance. You have been listening but not understanding the crux of the issue. You believe you can easily solve the problem. But premature conclusions and hasty decisions often backfire. So listen to what your partner says with total attention and empathy even if the way he or she is speaking bothers you.

The D’souzas had a very important point to make. They observed that “all couples have problems. Every couple has a few problems that may never go away. Happily married couples learn to accept this fact and work around it. In-law problems are one such example. You can’t get rid of your in-laws. But you can, without being petty, communicate how much you’re willing to put up with.” And as long as you believe your marriage is worth fighting for, nothing can possible intervene to change this fact!

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