When we got married couple of decades ago, I was an asset to my spouse, And my spouse was an asset in my life. Marriage too is a product, with a limited shelf life. In good old days, marriage was a long-term investment: “Till death do us apart”. Nowadays, marriage is a short-term investment. Soon, it will be a trader’s investment. Now we are neither an asset nor a liability to each other. We just live a colourless, neutral life without emotions and enthusiasm.
Why the problem
These days the spouses are: too ambitious, with king-size egos, who prefer isolation from in-laws family, and believe that ‘family’ means just the new family – me and my spouse. The spouses believe that old relations, in-laws and past life are irrelevant after marriage.
Can we afford to be thankless to parents?
Can we forget the wonderful time we shared, and their sacrifices?
They gave us their time and looked after us, when we were vulnerable.
Now they are in second childhood, in old age?
Will we ditch them in old age homes?
We got to do the right action:
(1) No broken homes, Children need us.
(2) No old age homes, we owe gratitude to our parents.
We look at broken-home families around, The spouses had ego clash, and they could not reconcile. They could not say sorry, and wanted the spouse to regret first. Now they repent the obstinacy, they displayed.
A New Universe
Each couple is a source of a brand new universe of humanity, similar to Adam and Eve. Unlike animals, human couples have longer association. Marriage is a benchmark of human civilization. Longer our marriage survives with dignity, higher we have set the benchmark. No other species shares such strong, life-long bonds.
What to do?
Married life may appear to some of us, a perpetual negative and incurable experience. The alternatives are far from satisfaction:
(1) A broken home, and
(2) Let’s carry on – maintain status quo for children’s sake.
There is no way out – spouses have to sort out differences, with flexible attitude.
SWOT Analysis of a typical middle-aged couple’s married life
They are a well settled, self-employed, retired couple with good health; who are self-reliant – financially, socially, and emotionally. They are a blessed family with well employed, grown up, and married children, and grandchildren The spouses were always loyal and faithful to each other. They may still not have harmony in life. To be a devoted husband/wife or a parent is an essential condition, but it is not a sufficient condition for harmony between spouses. They may be living together without love and respect.
To continue living together without love and respect for each other is hell.
To live with a spouse who loves and respects you, is heaven.
Familiarity breeds contempt. Imperfect – only God is perfect – spouses observe imperfections in each other:
(1) Inability to forget the decades-old hurts, mutually caused by spouses with indiscreet comments,
(2) Inability to behave diplomatically towards each other’s parents and siblings,
(3 Inability to share life in middle age, as there is very little to share in life, when the prime duty to groom children is successfully completed.
(4) There is cold, mechanical communication between middle-aged spouses, primarily on administrative issues only. Love is missing in life due to ego clashes and past hurts. Even if they still love each other, they feel shy to exhibit romance or to express love with romantic words of honeymoon period in old age.
(1) Now is the time to live for each other. No worries, no goals to achieve for own or children’s careers and no interference of each other’s in-laws.
(2) Just learn to respect each other’s views, and exhibit warmth towards spouse’s parents and siblings. These are few desirable qualities, we need to inculcate.
(3) Spouses can still have common issues: (a) love or cold behaviour of daughter-in-law/son-in-law, (b) share warm memories of spouse’s childhood memories with siblings and parents, and (c) affection of grandchildren.
(1) When spouses value individual ambitions in life more than the family goals, it affects harmony between spouses,
(2) If a spouse believes, “I am always right.” then it has negative impact on married life.
(3) Rigidity of views and never saying sorry, as a principle, has a negative impact.
(4) Indiscreet sarcastic comments adversely affect married life: “You shouldn’t have married; you are not a marriage material. You cling to your parental values and ideals like a child”,
(5) Indulging in other hobbies such as: loving pets or home gardens, as a substitute for amicable relations with spouse is a poor strategy, which doesn’t lead to harmony between spouses, and
(6) Spouses often resort to flashing economic muscles in relationship.
It has negative impact: either a greedy spouse gives in or else a spouse with self-respect, vows to live within own means. There are spouses who are greedy and love to avail advantage of spouse’s financial advantageous position. If the spouse’s family is richer, it may shower costly gifts, which may adversely affect harmony between spouses.
What are the options!
In spite of all the boredom, and fights, marriage – as an institution – is a worth-while experience, we must indulge in. Unmarried individuals have their own hassles. Their lives are far from perfect or in harmony. The solution lies in resolving the differences between spouses.
Shape of things to come!
We are in a transition phase of human history. On one hand, gender equality has strengthened humanity, On the flip side, Intolerant, ambitious spouses have diluted sanctity of marriage. It is a temporary setback. Sooner than later, we will realise our folly. Ambitious spouses will rein in their ego clashes. There will be fewer divorces in society. Young girls will not be money hungry, to chase successful, rich old eligible bachelors. Young boys will not value rich spinsters as friends, on monetary considerations. Love and marriage will not be business like.
Love will imply:
(1) A pure love, between spouses, who are disinterested with financial status,
(2) There is respect for individual’s unique identity, and
(3) There is freedom to live in past memories and interaction with siblings and parents. An optimum sharing of lives before marriage and after marriage will add to the richness in life and will not be a liability.
Life will always be a mix of happiness garnished with grief. There will be always a painful awareness, a feeling of failure in the marriage as a spouse; as no marriage is perfect. We are not alone. World over, spouses feel harassed, cheated or dissatisfied. We feel, others are lucky, with a better spouse. Tolstoy, too had his spouse, not very accommodating. He was fed up with her, he felt human beings are incorrigible. His solution to the problems of humanity was: complete celibacy. “Human species is not fit enough to survive. It needs to be extinct.”
We are all imperfect, feel hurt, and want to quit, But we continue to carry out our parental duty selflessly. We play our role and vanish into thin air. Buddhists call it “theory of emptiness”. Why are we in this world? No one knows. We need not know. Move on, like water in a river, It moves, where to? No one knows. It leaves the onlookers behind. It moves on, eternally. Where to? No one knows.