Happily married?

Happily married?

During a conversation with a young friend, we stumbled upon the topic of marriage. He, at the moment, is single and not in any kind of a rush to get hitched. I, on the other hand, have been married for good many years. It was no surprise that we agreed to disagree on more than a couple of things.

My friend saw marriage as an exam that he felt had a 50% chance of failure if attempted without the essential groundwork. He worried about things not being perfect, of two people cogently trying to dance a duet when all they were good at was dancing solo. He was apprehensive of rushing into a binding commitment without considering all the pros and cons.

When I tried to tell him, that marriage is probably one’s best chance to grow up, he scoffed and said, “Of course you would say that…you’re happily married.”

I later deliberated how it’s always, ‘happily married’ in terms of married couples, but no such adjective is attributed to any other relationship. Ever heard of ‘happily friends?’ No relationship is always happy, or forever balanced (50-50) — especially a marriage. It’s always 70-30, or 60-40 or occasionally even 80-20.

Someone pulls the weight sometimes while the other is a drag. Someone puts someone else up on a dais while remaining behind the stage. Someone works very hard to keep the boat sailing while the other just dances with the waves. And suddenly, the roles are reversed. Trials and tribulations are palpable in all relationships, and marriage is no exception.

Instead of having idealistic notions about marriage, one should see it like any other relationship that consolidates, rejuvenates, disintegrates, stagnates and educates depending on what one brings to it. It is not chains or best laid plans or even mutual interests that hold a marriage together. It is threads — hundreds of tiny threads, one’s disposition and friendship that sew people together over the years.

One of my go to books The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran best elucidates the concepts of marriage, which holds true for any lasting relationship. “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

When we build a home, we start with desire and determination to make it happen. Initially one’s dream home could look like rubble and sweat and dust. Even the best blueprints might be thwarted. But once the dust clears and the desire and determination consolidate; the rubble will take shape.

Similarly, a marriage, especially in the beginning, might look amorphous. What finally gives it shape is not something external, but that which we carry in our hearts and minds. We are not always beings of logic, but rather beings of emotion, and home is not a place but a feeling. I’m not compelling my friend to tread unfamiliar waters, I’m trying at being a lighthouse in case his ship sets sail.

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