Don’t kill me for promising that there is something like a Happy Married Life (HML).
Believe me, it is not a fictitious character. It exists and so does its opposite – UnHappy Married Life (UHML).
I have seen both and most likely you have too, if you are married that is.
If Happy Married Life can make it feel like bliss unlimited, UHML can bring you crashing down faster.
No marriage can be Happy Married Life forever, in a continuum. The happy and unhappy phases keep alternating with each other, just like other facets of life.
Since, continuous HML is not possible, I want to increase the frequency and length of the HML phases. I assume, you would like to do it too.
I am sharing a few experiences here in a series of seven blogs, each talking about one secret at a time.
The first secret that I want to share is:
Listen, not wait to talk
I was talking to my wife, rather my wife was talking to me. She had already spoken a couple of sentences and I was getting impatient to chip in with my own point of view about what she was speaking. As soon as I found a short pause, I jumped in with my two cents on what I thought she was talking about.
All the enthusiasm in her voice vanished. She just mentioned,’ You got me so wrong. I was not going to talk about this. I was giving you the background on the real thing and you, as always, jumped headlong to reach conclusions.’
I tried to salvage,’ That’s no problem, please carry on with your original thoughts.’
‘I can’t. Specially after knowing that I was being misunderstood and moreover, you are more interested in giving your view on things rather than waiting to hear what I have to say in totality.’
And there it went, the Happy Married Life. But it was a minor glitch. Or, so I thought. If this happens again and again, it can give rise to serious communication issues among couples.
Any one partner can get a deep rooted feeling of not being able to express themselves freely and fully.
Anaya was eagerly waiting for Amit to come back from office. She wanted to share something that happened at work. She was not comfortable sharing this with her colleagues, so she thought Amit was the best person.
As soon as Amit came back and they settled down with the evening cup of tea, Anaya started,’ You know today something happened at office.’
‘oh, tell me about it.’
‘My boss seems to have recommended Ajit’s name for promotion although I am a better performer.’
It was going well till now and Anaya was feeling encouraged to unravel the full story.
‘Yes, its depressing. I was under the impression that my name would be put up for promotion this year.’
Amit was sympathizing with Anaya and added,’ You know what the problem is – your boss thinks that being a woman, you may not be serious about your career. He may be feeling that you will start a family soon and may even quit your job soon after. You need to go to him and talk to him about it. You clarify that you are dead-serious about your career and he cannot bypass a great performer like you. If that doesn’t work out, you may want to lodge a complaint with the Gender Discrimination committee at your workplace.’
There was a long silence after this monologue and Amit didn’t know what hit Anaya.
He prodded her,’ Tell me what do you think.’
Anaya was half-crying now,’ Amit you have done a full analysis of the problem as you see it and suggested such wonderful solutions. What else remains to talk about?’ And she left the scene to go lock herself in the bedroom.
Amit kept wondering if he said something so bad that he upset Anaya.
Here, Anaya wanted to narrate the full story and place certain other facts in front of Amit. She also wanted to show her feelings to Amit and live out the whole drama to release her emotions. This process itself would have given her the solace and also the strength to manage the situation herself.
If she really needed some advice, she would have asked for it or Amit would have given it after Anaya emptied herself completely. Till then his only role was to listen, nod and listen.
This mistake is committed by both men and women and one needs to consciously work on improving the listening habit.
Another young couple, Zehan and Keya met after a fifteen-day break. Keya had gone to stay with her parents as she was feeling home-sick. She had stayed away from them for a full year for the first time in her life.
There was so much to share with each other. While Zehan was eager to tell her about the developments at his start-up, Keya wanted to recount the details of her brother’s upcoming marriage, induction of a new pet at her parental home and some relationship issues her close friend in Delhi was facing.
On the way back, while Zehan was driving, Keya said,’ You know this new puppy that my parents got, Zappy, is so cute. It has really become a part of our family in just a month………………..’
While Keya was talking away to glory, Zehan was thinking how will he break the news of the latest funding that he received and how will Keya react to it. This thing about the new puppy was so insignificant that Zehan didn’t pay any attention to Keya and kept thinking about the funding.
As soon as there was a pause in Keya’s description of Zappy, he burst in,’ Ok, this Zappy seems to be a nice puppy, but I have to share something great with you.’
Since they had met after a long time, Keya was more understanding than usual,’ Oh, I am eager to hear about it, tell me!’
‘Keya, we just received a chunk of funding that will keep us going for another couple of years and that too at an unbelievable valuation. I just cannot wait…………………….’
This time while Zehan dived into his world of the startup, funding, future, strategy, Keya got distracted. She thought that all this development was great but what was the point in talking about it for so long. Why couldn’t Zehan finish so that she can start disgorging all the details of her brother’s impending engagement.
As soon as she found an opening, she butted in,’ Enough of this funding stuff Zehan. Work is work. Let me tell you about Amit’s engagement preparations.’
‘What? You are not interested in the start-up? Keya, it is the most important thing for our life. More important than your puppy or even your brother’s engagement.’
Now, Keya was losing it too,’ First, you cut me off and start a monologue and now you are insulting my family.’
Before they reached home, the happiness they felt at reuniting after fifteen days had vanished.
If you analyze the situation, you will see that there is no dearth of love and affection. But there is surely an unwillingness to give priority to the needs of the other person.
Either partner could have taken a patient stance and heard the other person out completely. After one person has lightened his or her burden, they are more open to hear the other person’s story.
This is fairly common in first couple of years of the marriage. Many couples slowly adjust and understand that they need to place their partner first, if they want to get similar treatment.
Giving patient hearing to your partner and resisting all the urge to chip in with your point of view or jumping to intelligent solutions, is the secret key to a Happy Married Life (as long as the phase lasts).
So, learn to listen and not wait for your turn to talk. Your turn will surely come, if not today, then tomorrow.
A seeker and explorer in the quest for lasting happiness, health and well-being. An MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. Has been a senior banker with large global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank. Working in these demanding global institutions with a gruelling schedule and plenty of business travel. Was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. Learnt and practiced many wellbeing tools and techniques to focus on his own well-being while balancing the demands of a high-profile career and a lovely family.