Much of our parents’ generation have remained together for decades, yet I know many who are my age and already separated or divorced. Is that because they have chosen personal preference over social pressures? Or is the notion of ‘life partner’ a romanticised work of fiction and not the harsh reality? I’m putting relationships under the spotlight.
I know for a fact a lot of our grandparents and parents (regardless of their background) remained together ‘until death did them part’ because of the social and cultural pressures of marriage being a binding contract. In many communities today, it remains the case that if you’re separated or divorced, you’re ‘damaged’ goods – so to speak. You’re no longer the ideal marriage material.
I think a lot of this is based on religious beliefs and also to maintain some sort of social order. For generations people have been convinced that they must remain faithful to ‘the one’, and any challenges they experience along the way will only make them stronger.
But who does this benefit? The couple who are together on paper but not by spirit? Or their families who see them live a depressed life? Or their children who bear the burden of a loveless marriage.
Okay so that’s the extreme – but believe you me, it’s real.
It amazes me that before marriage; its commonplace for people to date, for months or even years at a time. They may declare their love for this person and start picturing a future with them. Then something happens or the love just dwindles and they part ways.
Then all of a sudden when they marry somebody, the pressure is mounted that they must do whatever it takes to keep the marriage afloat.
Personally, I find it a scary concept to commit the rest of my life to one person. And I think it’s quite normal to be so cynical because I haven’t come across ‘the one’ who I could consider a life partner. And if anyone reaches anywhere close, then what’s to say they won’t change over the years, or that I won’t?
That’s the crucial point – time, experiences, circumstances change us all as people. I am completely different to Raj ten years ago. I have done things I never thought I would or would condemn back then.
So if I can’t vouch for myself then how can I commit myself till death do us part?
I have seen loving couples who I admire because they seem so resilient as long as they have each other – yet certain situations have tested their relationships to almost breaking point. Some haven’t worked out but many of them have stuck it out, worked through it and maybe it’s made them stronger…only they could say.
There’s many things that would frustrate me in a marriage – snoring is high up on the list (!) – but the one thing that I don’t think I could work out is infidelity. Trust is like a mirror – once shattered, no matter how hard you try to piece it together; the cracks will show forever. It’s a harsh truth but if a person can stray once; the only reasoning I can digest for it to occur is that they’re not content with what they have. Well there’s the door, goodbye!
And then there’s the practicalities of life – children, jobs, finances, running a home – these are all areas that can test a relationship. When so much is going on, is there space for love? Does love even count in a lifelong relationship? Or are you just so used to each other, you’ve built so much together that you just can’t imagine life without them…or maybe that is love…?
My cousin recently said something to me that has stuck and made me completely re-think my quest for a life partner: “There’s no such thing as the perfect partner. It’s their imperfections that are perfect for you.”
So are we unnecessarily adding pressure on ourselves by seeking perfection? Is this blinding us from other qualities in a person that don’t particularly tally up to our wish list but they’re qualities nonetheless?
Admittedly, my heart melts when I see an old couple walking hand in hand, or arm in arm. I wonder what they’ve been through. What has life thrown their way to test their faith and commitment in one another? And all of a sudden my faith in life partners is restored.
Thanks to a lifetime of Hindi cinema, I do have a romantic side deep (deep, deep) down! So contrary to my mini rant so far, I do believe I will end up with someone worthy of a lifetime commitment. I’m not expecting a predictably paced merry-go-round – the wilder the rollercoaster ride with highs, lows and twists, the better!