What true love brings you...

What true love brings you...

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you,
but sometimes I do, and that sight
becomes this art.

The lady sitting in front of me is 55 and these lines by Rumi define romance for her. “Does it shock you that an ‘aunty’ speaks about love in this manner?” asks Madhu. The smile on my face convinces her that I am certainly not shocked, just floored.

“I met my husband in 1980 and it was barely for five minutes amidst 15 people from both our families. Our marriage was arranged that day, but we didn’t really warm up to each other until much later. It took us two whole years to break the ice and start talking to each other. And that’s when we fell in love!” she says with a smile.

To this day, Madhu and her husband are known among their friends as ‘the lovebirds’. “We hold hands in public, go out for movies regularly and don’t hesitate to call them dates,” she says, laughing.

The secret behind the success of their relationship, she says, is that they never take their fights to the bedroom. “No matter how serious the fight, we kiss and make up before we go to sleep. You can’t take a grudge into your dream world.”

What is love, really?

Is it the feeling that struck Maria and Captain von Trapp as they danced the Ländler in The Sound Of Music? Is it what Yash Chopra tried to portray with the pirouetting stars in flimsy sarees and dashing coats in the Alps? Is it the excitement contained in that out-in-the-open social media proposal getting the most likes and comments? Who can decipher the enigma that is love?

Sundar and Gayatri, newlyweds currently honeymooning in Seychelles, claim to have the answer. “Love is fun, tender and very, very passionate for us at the moment,” they say, chuckling in unison. Having dated each other for two years before Gayatri popped the question, this couple, mercifully, had no hassles convincing their families.

“It was scarier convincing each other!” Sundar admits. “When we both sat down and thought about it – being committed to one person for life – we were a little hesitant. Then we decided that if we have managed to stay together for two years, we can manage another 200, or at least 60.”

Gayatri says, “I feel so comfortable and appreciated with him. He keeps complimenting me all the time. You might think it’s just the honeymoon period. But I know that it’s in his nature to make those around him feel special. It makes me want to do nice things for him as well.”

A Tamilian and a total novice in the kitchen, Gayatri is now learning the basics of Gujarati cuisine from her mother-in-law to be able to cook for her husband. “He takes roller coaster rides with me despite being terrified of them. Of course, I can go the extra mile to do what he likes,” she says.

Tackling life together

Lifelong companionship is what most people aim for when they enter a long-term relationship. You tie the knot so you know you never have to go through life’s vicissitudes by yourself. In a healthy relationship, you always have a shoulder to cry on, someone to help you pick up the pieces when you suffer a fall.

Jayant has been married to his wife for 15 years and the couple has survived two miscarriages and three job crises. “I wouldn’t want to paint a picture of sorrow but we’ve seen a lot in these 15 years and we’ve been blessed too. I can’t see how either of us would have handled any of this alone,” he says.

“When we are young, we seek good-looking, adventurous people without bothering to see what lies below the surface. Spending a lifetime with each other brings such things to light,” he says.

Jayant has recently retired from city life to a smaller town close to his native place, where he stays with his wife and son. “It was my idea to relocate. And she instantly agreed. I can trust her with my craziest ideas as much as I can handle hers. If that isn’t love, what is?” he asks, a smile lighting up his face.

Making an effort

A deeply fulfilling relationship puts a blanket of security around you. Call it stability or a sense of coming home. You can put up your legs and relax and shut your eyes –without being judged, without being nagged. A healthy relationship must be comfortable for both people, but make no mistake, you cannot afford to get complacent. You cannot take your partner for granted and expect life to be hunky-dory.
“When I was younger and single, my mother used to say that relationships needed constant work. It upset me because I thought it’s the sort of advice that girls are given before marriage. You know, the wear-sexy-clothes, never-let-your-man’s-eyes-rove kind?” says Sadiya, a 33-year-old. Now, having been in a relationship for the past five years, she understands what her mother meant.

“I am in a live-in relationship and since there are no vows tying us down, the work is that much more. We have invested ourselves in this relationship and we have to make efforts to keep it growing. We ensure we remain sane and respectful during fights, we have discussed that infidelity is a deal-breaker and we make it a point never to take each other for granted,” she says.

Staying loyal

Morality and fidelity seem to have become outdated concepts so it is a little surprising that Sadiya talks about it. “I stick out like a sore thumb among my friends when I speak about being a one-man woman and my partner believing in monogamy as well. It’s almost as if the whole world wants to experiment and those who remain loyal are seen as old school and judgemental. When did being loyal become uncool? I feel that commitment and loyalty are the foundations of a healthy relationship. You can’t be on tenterhooks all the time,” she adds.

While there is no rulebook for romance, every relationship requires oodles of TLC. “We pay attention to our career, kids and parents, but more often than not, our partners are the last on our priority list. It’s either because we consider them as our equals or we have let complacency slip into our relationship,” reflects Madhu, adding, “Maintain your bond like a plant, feed it love and watch it grow.”

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