Top 10 Things That Make My Marriage Work

Posted on November 4, 2014

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I began dating Sid almost eight years ago and we’ve been married for almost four. In today’s world, this makes me a marriage expert. Why? Because we’re still alive, we don’t hate each other; we’re still married, like being married and probably will stay married for a bit hopefully. This is not meant to be an advice post. But it might be. If it’s not, you have bigger problems in your marriage. And yes, this post may not be relevant to some sections of society as most of my learning has to do with access to money.

1. Living in a home that has more than one bathroom: My husband uses our bathroom as his office. When he needs to concentrate, even if he doesn’t need the bathroom, he’ll go sit there! His morning ablutions can take him anywhere between 20 to 120 minutes. Of course you’ve already read about my battles with the toilet seat! When we lived in Chicago, our battles over the lone bathroom nearly caused us to divorce. In Toronto, we have two bathrooms. We can now fight in peace about things that actually matter, like whose turn it is to go fill fuel in the car.

2. Doing nice things for each other as often as possible: Sid was taking a nap today. As he waking up from his sleep, I presented him with a glass of coconut water with a dash of lime in it. Why? Just like that. He really enjoyed it. He makes me ginger tea every now and then. He also buys my presents often, which of course I return because our tastes do not match. No seriously, they absolutely do not match. So why does he still buy me stuff? Because he knows I LOVE that he makes the effort.

3. Appreciating an art form together: In our case, it’s music. Our favorite type of music differs greatly. He is weirdly into country music. This is so absurd that a woman from Nashville thought I was married to a “white guy” when I told her that my husband loves country music! And that too old country of the Merle Haggard and George Jones variety. I am into rock, but I love sufi, ghazals, folk music from Rajasthan and some other forms of Indian music. However, Sid and I both like English music of all genres from the 70s to the 90s. We have playlists in our car and enjoy singing our favorite tunes together. It brings us closer as we sing our favorite songs together…there’s something inside us that clicks into place like puzzles as we harmonize. Try it!

4. Engaging in some form of spiritual practice: Coming from completely different backgrounds, it has taken Sid and me seven years to find our balance. This means I go to church on Sundays and he comes to my Twin Heart Meditation groups on Mondays. We love singing gospel music together. We love praying together. It helps us get out of fights more easily. Imagine saying, “Dear god, I don’t care whose fault this is. I am fed up of fighting. Help me give up this bitterness and reach out to my baby.” Oh, this is especially useful when IT IS your fault! What better way to get out of a situation than to act like you’re the bigger person! And slowly you won’t have to act no more.

5. Sharing household chores: I don’t work full-time. Not because I don’t want to, but because of immigration issues. When I have to do all the household chores, it makes my self-esteem touch the floor. I don’t enjoy housework, never have. I am not saying housework is not valuable work. But it is unpaid and under-appreciated. When you offer to share that burden, it comes across as caring. I am not saying it has to be 50-50 if your spouse does not work…but in my house, the dishwasher and laundry are both my husband’s responsibility. In the three years that we have been married, I have done laundry thrice. When he does the laundry, he’ll ask me if I am looking for something specific…all these gestures make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, just like the clothes that come out of the dryer. I also find joint grocery shopping very intimate…the two of you navigating the universe (or the supermarket, whatever) to meet your needs…so romantic! Yes, I’m pretty low maintenance.

6. Respecting each other’s families: Our families are completely different. Our families’ interactions are as different as chalk and cheese. It took us a while to get used to the differences (read fought like crazy). Today, we’ve come to a comfortable place where we have laid out our expectations and come to a consensus as to how much we need to do for each other’s family.

7. Being transparent with finances. We both know how much money they have, the current debt level, the investments, the future planning, etc. In our house, we both have total control over the spending. If we are making a purchase that costs more than say $200, we always have to run it by the other person. Below that, we use our own discretion based on our knowledge of our finances. It would of course be different if one of us had some sort of spending addiction. In our case, we are both cheapskates; we can’t part with our money easily.

8. Treating each other with respect. This may be very subjective. In my case, respect means joint decisions on all matters, apologizing when you hurt the other person, seeking their advice on your problems, treating them as equals, paying attention to their needs, cheering them up when they’re down, anticipating their needs and addressing them, providing them with intimacy and cuddles, doing things they like every once in a way, respecting their boundaries, accepting their limitations, being honest even if it hurts. Of course, there are people who tell us that we fight a lot or who make judgments about our marriage. I, for one, don’t care about these people. Sid is learning to get there. We’re both strong personalities and bring a lot to the table. I guess over time, we’ve learned how to fight rather than how not to fight, because in my opinion, the latter means one of us is constantly giving in.

9. Spending time away from each other. Sid and I spend a lot of time apart since he’s a consultant and travels constantly. This means that we never have enough of each other. Some people ask me how I do it. The answer is simple. I have my own interests and circle of friends. Yes, sometimes it is boring…but I know a lot of people who are bored even with their partner. When I am bored, I walk around and take pictures or watch TV. People who say they don’t need alone time, all I can say to you is, try it first, see how it impacts your relationship and then decide. For us, it keeps us going.

10. Travelling together. I dedicated an entire post to my travels with Sid. In 3 years, we’ve done a few nice holidays. Travelling breaks the monotony of everyday life and creates new experiences and memories for us to revisit. Travelling together can be stressful; we ensure that we divide the responsibilities based on our respective comfort levels. Sid and I alternate the researching and booking responsibilities. We also talk about how much we want to spend on accommodation and food each day and book accordingly. Once on holiday, we’re both off duty. The planning is so meticulous that we don’t need to over think anything. And yes, he always drives.

 

Some things that other couples do that we have tried or would like to try:

Watch shows as a couple: Our tastes are very different and our free time doesn’t overlap too much, so doing this is hard. However, what we do do well is abandon shows after starting to watch them based on popularity. We’ve jointly abandoned “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards”.

– Play/learn a sport as a couple: This summer we were supposed to learn golf or sailing. We didn’t. End of story.

– Learn a form of dance: An acquaintance of mine and her husband used to learn salsa together. Sid has told me many times that he would like to learn the salsa, but we never get around to doing it. Why? Who knows!

 

 

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Posted in: Relationships