x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Desi girl: what marriages are made of

It is not just the big issues that wear down on a marriage, but the daily minutiae, too.

Ten years ago, I was reluctantly dragged to a corporate dinner by a journo friend of mine who couldn’t stand the thought of going through another one of these things alone. I’m not a big fan of these events, either, but I would have put on some make-up instead of putting up a fight had I known that this was the night I would meet the cute guy who would become my boyfriend in a few weeks, fiancé in seven months and husband in little over a year.

Yes, it happened that fast, much to the chagrin of my friends, who told me I was rushing into something too serious with someone too new. I’m glad I listened to my heart instead of listening to them (making a mental note to do that more often). It’s been a decade now, and being with one person for so long has turned out to be quite different from what I imagined it would be like.

When two people meet, the journey of discovery makes up half the joy of togetherness. We spoil ourselves with heart-to-heart talks. Arm-in-arm, sharing, discovering. As weeks become months and months become years, long conversations are replaced by functional communication.

“What time will you get home today?”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning.”

Maybe that’s the benefit of having been together for an extended period of time: two people develop a comfort zone together. They share everything – love, trust, chores, finances. There’s no need for all that lovey-dovey stuff anymore. I can’t say how true it is for the rest of the world, but for so many desi couples, “date night” is a western concept to be laughed at.

It shouldn’t be.

Some people find a best friend and soulmate in their spouse. Others find someone they can tolerate. Still others find discontent. Without quality time together, the lines between the three can become blurred.

A night away from the kids and the rest of the often--extended family can work wonders and keep those aforementioned lines from blurring.

Because, in the end, it is not just the big issues that wear down a marriage, but the daily minutiae, too. The cooking and cleaning, the awaking at the same hour to drive through traffic to work. The bickering of a bored or lonely wife, the short temper of a husband tired after a long day in the office. It’s the small things that slowly, stealthily wear down a relationship and turn it from something potentially marvellous and wondrous into something simply functional.

Functional is not bad. But when you compare it to the potentially marvellous, quite frankly, it sucks.

So we must try to build it up again. With little gestures of kindness and little words of love. Every day. Because if we don’t, and the chipping continues unchecked, the tower comes tumbling down. In the end, two people are left wondering why and how – when nothing really changed – did it all change?

All it takes is just one gesture each day to put a new stroke of love on the canvas of your marriage. A peck on your spouse’s cheek before you leave for work. A little “I love you” as you both lie in bed, ready to fall asleep. Holding hands. Pretending to be interested in his/her favourite TV show, even if you really aren’t. It doesn’t take a huge effort, but it makes a huge difference.

As does listening to your heart, as opposed to your friends. No guarantees on that one, though.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai

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