Thursday, August 7, 2014

What is love?

Lately there have been a spate of messed up relationships around me. I had always heard how divorces were on the rise in India but did not actually know anyone first hand who was getting divorced.

One situation is of a very dear long time friend, more like an older sister to me. She married her high school sweetheart. I am best friends with her sister and all of us friends would look up to them, stars in our eyes, with complete adoration. For us teenagers, this was what true love was, this was how couples should be, they were our role model of a couple in love and now husband and wife. They were/are both extremely attractive, fun and awesome to be around. And now they are going through a very rough period in their lives.

A good friend/colleague at work got divorced. He has two young boys - ages one and five; his wife left him with the kids and moved halfway across the country to go be a school teacher. Abandoning her own babies to go be a role model for thirty some kids of strangers. I see his struggle and attempt to be brave at trying to create a routine as a single father and internally cringe at the tough times coming his way :(

We have a whatsapp group of my high school friends and oddly one of our friend's husbands is a part of the group (my friend is not!). He calmly announced two days back via text - It is with great sorrow to inform you that M and I are parting ways. They have a nearly year old baby. This was a late marriage for both of them.

All around me I listen to my friends/colleagues complain about their spouses - some are just letting off steam, others have more deep rooted serious complaints, still others have resigned acceptance of their situation and are bound in the marriage by finances/kids etc. In my own personal life, I will not lie, there are days on which we both feel that the other person doesnt love/appreciate the other. And then I wonder what is love? Is there any such thing as a soul mate? Are there any couples that are deeply in love with each other 365 days a year? Do they always look across a room at each other and smile in love? 15 years after they are married?

In India, in my parents generation, when divorces were very rare, you just accepted your fate and went along; I have seen so many mismatched couples, so many, most of the time, women who have sacrificed their dreams/desires/feelings and live/die with the person they exchanged vows with. I wonder if they ever sat down and thought about whether their lives would be different if they would have parted ways? Best friend R pondered whether relationships have become so fragile nowadays that if you do not perform up to par like in a work environment, you will be fired (divorced)?

But then there are also those examples like another of my high school friends, she has some form of depression and is married to this extremely positive outgoing friendly guy. He loves to have friends over, loves to party, loves to travel, has this unending zest for life. And its been ten plus years of living with my friend, he still hasnt thought about leaving her. They do not have any kids yet and I wonder what ties him to her when all around there are couples parting ways even when there are so many things at stake. What binds them together?

I have realised that there are phases in your life - good and bad. If you are committed to your marriage, you just need to ride the bad phases out and try to make your relationship stronger to enjoy the good phases. It is a work in progress - this relationship, not one that you can take for granted. You have to work on it, work on yourself. Sometimes making time for yourself might be the best thing to do for your relationship. Sometimes making time for your husband might work. But it is definitely a work in progress. I am speaking from my own experience, from having married a complete stranger, a guy who is kinda opposite in terms of personality. I am not sure if this is true across the board.

I also think one person alone can never fulfill everything you need. There are different people in your life to satisfy different things. Work is for being appreciated, for satisfaction on a job well done, on earning your own money. Home and kids are comforting, loving, its safety and security. Best friends are for comfort and the exact words that you want to listen to when you are down. Eight times out of ten, your spouse is not going to say what you want to hear when you are upset, but best friends almost always will.

You have to look at the big picture and not sweat the small things. He doesnt ever take the initiative to hug you himself but spends hours scouring the internet to look for deals because you said you want to go to Mexico, okay, take it. Thats a sign of love too. Love can be expressed in different ways, accept it in whichever form you receive it and appreciate it. And on days that you are exhausted and know that every small thing is going to lead to a big fight, shut up, listen to music and dont give in to the urge to make a mountain out of a molehill. Go to bed without a fight and tomorrow is another day.