Monday, February 23, 2009

Old Secret for a New Marriage

There are three people involved in every marriage and for it to be successful all three need to be happy. The person who told me this is the last person I expected it from. Born in the slums of Cape Town and without much formal education Gerhard did tobacco, alcohol, religion, women, drugs and all in between. He was always playing pranks and laughed at life having seen most of the spectrum it had to offer.

Returning to the point on hand. There are three people involved in a marriage. They are:-
The Man
The Woman
The Couple
Homosexuals may use serial numbers or whatever else suits best. Prima facie there seems to be an overlap, however what’s key is to identify the demarcation. Each of the above is a separate entity with a unique identity and collectively they are mutually exclusive. The following piece attempts to clarify individual identities.

Let’s take the easy one first, The Man and The Woman. Obviously these are the two individual personalities that took the vow. Just because they are married their individual identities do not get dissolved into one. But what does happen is the creation of a new entity of Husband and Wife. The Man is still the son, the brother, the colleague, the friend and so on and likewise the woman is still the daughter, the sister, the boss etc. The new entity that is created is that of ‘The Couple’. It is this couple that receives the wedding invitations, decides schooling of children, go out for dinners, fight over breakfast, hide remote controls etc.

This is the story of
Mr. & Mrs Martin

Gerhard came from a settlement in impoverished Cape Town where there were more snakes than ladders. He dropped out of school to pursue his immediate issue – hunger. The day he joined Pick and Pay, it was love at first sight for him when he saw Suzzana at the billing counter. Suzzana’s father had convinced her to work elsewhere before joining the family business. Here was the problem, he was a drop out, she was to graduate; he was brown, she was black; he had friends, she had family; he was a porter, she was rich. As a result like all love stories, the opposites attracted and sparks started flying

The going was not easy for Gerhard, he was proud and inspired and wanted to prove his worth to Suzzana. He knew the techniques of pilferage and how goods could be stolen and where it could be sold. He used his trade with his employer and was soon transferred to security and then to IT and Accounting. When Gerhard and Suzzana got married (After 3 years of courtship) Gerhard was an IT programmer in small firm and Suzzana was still working in shifts at the billing counter. Suzzana never joined the family business, which was a few years later up for sale.

Suzzana loved to spend time with her sisters and mother. Simplicity pleased her. Her entertainment was baking cakes on Saturday afternoon and bragging about how hard Gerhard was working. When they got married, she moved to Gerhard’s place with the excitement of any newly weds. It was one thing to visit Gerhard and it was another to move into his tiny dwelling. Suzzana never complained.

Extrapolating further the couple proceeds to add another entity called The Family when they have children. This is its natural progression. Before we proceed lets be clear that the Man is different from The Woman and both are different from The Couple. Now the secret, All three need to be happy independent of each other. Here comes the question of Balance. For e.g. The Man likes playing golf, now this has no effect on The Woman but does effect The Couple. How? That’s because the wife is unhappy about the husband being out for most of the Saturday and the Husband cant help feeling guilty. Lets take another example. The Woman enjoys shopping. What she enjoys more is the process of buying and reviews from her companion The Man who lets assume hates shopping. There are at least two people not happy in this scenario The Man and The Couple.

Gerhard kept him self busy at work while Suzzana quit and draped the responsibilities of a house wife. Money kept flowing in but Gerhard was never at home. He had clung on to his ladder and knew if he let go it would be fatal for both. Neither did he stop Suzzana, who was free to visit her mother, go shopping etc. On the occasions when Gerhard took the weekend off, or when he reached home early they had great times. He knew Suzzana was nervous about extravagance hence they spent their evenings simply watching television or cooking. Very occasional weekends the Martins would escape into an unknown holiday resort and laze around. Within a year they were blessed with a baby girl.

Jesse’s entry in the world changed things. Suzzana was now very busy and the longing for Gerhard eased and he was still busy working or busy pampering Jesse. Suzzana’s sisters were seeing others and slowly the Saturday cake making disappeared into anonymity. Gradually the visits to the resorts decreased and so did the quality time of the Martins. While attending social functions they now proudly attended as the Martins Family. The increase in Gerhard’s travel did not help the situation. Suzzana knew there was something missing but could not place the pointer. They were no more living in poverty, she had a beautiful daughter, an adoring husband (whenever he is around), a secure future and all the comforts one could ask for. Still there was something missing.

How does The Couple keep itself happy? Here is where common interests and compatibility come into play. A few examples are going out for coffee, adventure, cooking, listening to music, receiving guests etc and most important following its natural progression i.e. to create the fourth entity called ‘The Family’. Its important to ensure that while The Man needs to be assertive over his own needs, he must be receptive over the needs of The Couple and be sensitive to the needs of The Woman. Also, when needed the others have to sacrifice for the sake of ‘The Family’. Hence the balance of ensuring that all four are happy within a family.

Jesse is now in her first grade, Gerhard is a project manager in an IT firm and Suzzana is pregnant again. Gerhard is always too busy working, or too busy playing golf, or too busy taking care of Jesse or too busy taking Suzzana for health checks. There are no more fights over the remote since they are seldom in the same room. Gerhard never played pranks no more. ‘Responsibility’ had taken its toll on his sense of humor. He had always been loyal to Suzzana, but somewhere deep inside knew he had cheated her of something. He realized, Mr. and Mrs. Martin are no more.

The immediate adverse effect of any one of the individuals not thriving in a marriage is the losing of identity. When The Couple is not happy, then its just The Man and The Woman living together like vegetables in a refrigerator. If The Woman is not happy, the Man and the Couple might carry on for some time, but its transitory. It would certainly affect The Couple in the long run. So the next time you married men want to go on a motorbike trail, do it and don’t let The Couple from stopping you. Also, do ensure that The Couple is not stopping The Woman from doing something that makes her happy. Similarly don’t let The Family ruin a romantic date of ‘The Couple’ and lastly don’t forget to keep The Family happy.

Happy Married Life

Keep Walking!

Prasad Shetty


Madhukar Hebbar said...

Nice definition mate. Agree with you 100%. I think the definition is true for every relationship, not just for marriage. But the problem is more pronounced in a relationship like marriage I guess.

As you have defined, typical reason for frustration in friendship, Office, parents etc. can be attributed to not understanding the boundary of You, Me and Us.

I think the general society gives a lot of importance to "US", ignoring "you" and "me". Probably this is the reason initial sizzle of any relationship wares down after a period of time.

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

Good one!

Very well written... initially I thought it was forwarded email...

Atmaram said...

Good one, nice story mate. I liked the concept of husband, wife and the couple
In marriage i think the kids are the problem
They are the ones which create havoc in a sweet couples life.
I strongly believe, kids bring more misery than happiness.
I guess kids cant do much if the couple are strong enough to withstand the pressure

Shetty said...

Hebbar, whats the last line about fizzing out??

VSS, Thanks

Atma, phew..that was pretty strong mate...I think kids make the couple complete. In the west kids have their own 'space' very early. This is good in one way, gives 'The Couple' more time, but I think it reduces attachment at a base level. The ownership towards family is non-existent.

We got to strike a balance, if we have joint families, we got to have the courage to tell someone at home to take care of the kids while we take our wife out. The most difficult thing about it is to to show them that you care for you spouse. Most of us are not bold enough to show affection.
If its nuclear families, got to improvise, day care centers on a saturday perhaps or a neighbour you trust etc. while the couple are out shopping,

Madhukar Hebbar said...

When the relationship starts. both parties accept the other party AS-IS. I attribute this as a reason for the sizzle in start of relationship. There is an unknown, there is a new perspective from the mate, there is a secret, etc. etc.

As the relationship starts getting mature, typically people concentrate on "US" and compromise the needs of "Me" and "you". The thrill of unknown is dead because there is no "Individual Needs" and the sizzle wares down.

Another way to look at this is, "US" is always dependent on "Me" and "You" to evolve. It doesn't have independent power. If "US" becomes prominent in a relationship then the "Me" and "you" needs are compromised, hence doesn't evolve and the way of life slows down. The sizzle wares down.

All views please...