On a recent trip to Charleston, my husband and I were squabbling over everything from the settings of the air conditioner (I just do not understand why he likes cold air on his feet, I like my feet to stay warm) in the minivan to the radio channel we should listen to. Then, we bickered over picking the restaurant where we would eat. I wanted to eat at a place which was not too crowded so that we could get to my daughter’s band performance on time. He wanted to eat at the popular and critically acclaimed Hyman’s Seafood which always has long lines and I was extremely anxious that we might be late for my daughter’s show.
Surprisingly, all of our arguing was in vain as Hyman’s got us seated right away and within seconds we ordered our food and we were waiting for it to be served. The restaurant has these cards on the table with different pieces of wisdom inscribed on them. The waitress told us that we could read those cards while we waited on the food. My teenage son picked one card up, handed it to me and said, “Mom, read this, it’s perfect for you and dad.” I read the card and immediately burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that other people turned and looked at me. This is what the card said:
40 PROMISES FOR MARRIAGE
1. Start each day with a kiss.2. Wear your wedding ring at all times.3. Date once a week.4. Accept differences.5. Be polite.6. Give gifts.7. Smile often.8. Touch.9. Give back rubs.10. Laugh together.11. Send a card for no reason.12. Do what the other person wants before he or she asks.13. Listen. 14. Encourage. 15. Know his or her needs.16. Fix the other person’s breakfast.17. Compliment twice a day.18. Call during the day.19. Slow down.20. Hold hands.21. Cuddle.22. Ask for other’s opinion.23. Show respect.24. Look your best.25. Celebrate birthdays in a big way.26. Apologize. 27. Forgive. 28. Set up a romantic getaway .29. Be positive. 30. Be kind. 31. Be vulnerable. 32. Respond quickly to the other person’s needs.33. Reminisce about your favorite times together.34. Treat each other’s friends and relatives with courtesy.35. Send flowers every Valentine’s Day and anniversary 36. Admit when wrong.37. Be sensitive to each other’s sexual desires.38. Pray for each other daily.39. Say “I love you” frequently.40. Seek outside help when needed. Author~Steve Stephens.
After I was done laughing, I read the card again and realized that my husband and I do all of the things mentioned in thepromises but we often fail to do it as consistently as we should. It really is impossible to be polite all the time and to compliment each other twice a day! We do laugh a lot together but who can look their best all the time!
Sometimes, I wonder, is there such a thing as a perfect couple? On the surface, every couple’s picture you look at on Facebook looks perfect complete with comments such us “Made for each other”, “Rab Ne bana di Jodi”, “lovebirds” and so on. Who knows how happy these couples really are in their real lives? Sometimes, when I see a long married couple who are still into each other, hugging and kissing and indulging in public displays of affection, I sigh and tell my husband, “Look at them, they are so lucky to be so in love” and he completely shatters my illusion by saying, “How do you know? It could just be dikhawa (show off), for all you know, they might not even sleep together anymore!” Joking aside, I am pretty sure there are a handful of people who have found their soulmate and their coupling is perfect in every way. They complete each other’s sentences, they gaze into each other’s eyes (from high school to retirement), and they are best friends and share each other’s innermost thoughts and dreams. Such couples are very rare and they are extremely blessed by God to have that strong physical chemistry and that deep mental connection.
For the rest of us less fortunate souls, what do we do? I think, first of all you have to trust God that he would find the right person for you. You may have an idea of what you desire but marriages are made in heaven. I have complete faith in what God chose for me and I cannot imagine my life with anybody else. Among most of the couples I know, their pairing is very well thought out. I often see that if one person is patient and calm, their spouse is highly strung and hot tempered, if one partner is disciplined, motivated and hardworking, the other one is more unorganized and a dreamer living in la la land.
There is always one person in the marriage who is mentally stronger than the other and who can withstand life’s challenges and disappointments better than the other. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. However, some couples may not be polar opposites, they may be similar to each other and that is what brings them closer. We also have power couples like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt where both of them are dynamic and super successful individuals.
The pursuit of perfection is a fallacy. Somebody has rightly said that love is blind but marriage is an eye-opener. No marriage is perfect but couples can be a lot happier if they can accept each other’s imperfections. It is very naïve to think that you can change somebody. People may change a little bit, some of my husband’s qualities have rubbed off on me but inherently I am the same person I was when I got married. The day you can let go of your desire to change your partner is the day when you can be happy and have a more fulfilling relationship. My husband has let go of the fact that I cannot be a morning person and I do not have his athleticism and stamina for hiking or playing tennis. You can always have smart little negotiations for things that really matter a lot to you. If your husband is not very expressive and cannot come up with extravagant adjectives on his own, ask him to recite a few lines from a Bollywood song which best fits your appearance when you get dressed. You will be surprised and your desire for praise will be satisfied by his song choices!
You can be happy in a relationship only when you are happy with yourself. As I am getting older, I am more accepting of myself and I feel more confident and content. Nothing really fazes me. I am not insecure like I was in my twenties. If my husband does not give me flowers, it does not ruin my mood anymore. I know that he loves me; he is always there for me. If I have a flat tire, I know I can call him and he will be there in a heartbeat. He is the only person I can depend on and take help from without feeling any sense of obligation or any need to thank him profusely. We love each other unconditionally and we always have each other’s back. We are each other’s fiercest critics and also each other’s strongest supporters. We trust each other and never check on each other’s phone or email or browsing history. We have joint accounts and assets and we know that neither person is going to withdraw all the cash and run away! We give each other space and we also have our date nights without the kids. And yes, we do argue but what is life without some passionate arguments and making up?
So, to all the couples out there who feel like they cannot check off everything on the 40 promises for marriage list mentioned on the Hyman’s wisdom card, do not beat yourself up. No couple is perfect but I do sincerely feel that every couple I know is perfect for each other while making many perfect memories along the way!