Falling in love is easy, staying in love requires work!!
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.” - Mignon McLaughlin.
Marriage being one of the prime social institutions, marks a significant event in our life. It is a bond for a lifetime, a sacred tie that binds two hearts forever, through highs and lows, ebbs and tides. Each stage in the marital life demands love, care, communication and understanding. We marry for we fall in love, but it is not about a year or five years, marriage is a commitment that requires two people to share their lives till their last breath. As Howard Whitman puts it: “It takes guts to stay married.There will be many crises between the wedding day and the golden anniversary, and the people who make it are heroes.”
Through the different stages of marriage, the demands and expectations of its partners also change. This is more so because men and women have their uniquely distinctive ways of thinking, decision-making and rationalizing. They approach things with their own outlook and perspective, which needs to be rightly conveyed to and comprehended by the partner. Sociologist Otto Pollak declares: “There is no peace in human relationships; no marriage is ever settled.” The first stage of courtship and engagement lays the stepping stone to the relationship of growing oneness. It is during this phase when a couple gets to know each other, and plan a future together. However, in this stage, there is little chance to discover one’s flaws and undoings, since one usually puts his/her best foot forward during the dating days. There are also other psycho-social factors such as fear of loneliness or rejection, family pressure etc. which may cause either of the partners to mask their real feelings and attitudes.
Couples who successfully take their relationship to the second stage, that starts from marriage till the birth of the first child, have to cope with the growing inter-personal reorientation. They are still trying to come to terms with the newly-defined roles in their life, suffering from a sense of emotional separation from their family, and building acceptability with themselves. It is at this stage when we get to know our partner’s deficiencies and shortcomings, and therefore strive to accept and rather love their imperfections. Couples often experience disillusionment with their partners or with the very concept of marriage following the initial revelations, therefore it is extremely important to let go of preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations. Rather, partners should freely share their thoughts and develop a warm intimacy, helping each other with their turmoils and conflicts.
The third stage starts when their children reach the pre-school age. The couple learns the art of parenting, while perhaps their roles as spouses are yet to take a complete shape. Once they integrate and coordinate both the roles, they can experience the bliss of parenthood, its joys and challenges. It gives a new depth to their relationship, and they need to lend emotional support to each other to acquire the right balance between the different aspects of their life, which come along with an offspring. While the father struggles to get on ahead in his professional arena, the mother tries her best to make sure all her child’s needs are met. Thus the marriage is often relegated to the backseat, in an effort from both sides to handle the multiple responsibilities.
As children grow up to be adolescents, the marriage comes to the threshold of another transition. Conflicts with adolescent children easily raise barriers between their parents. Issues such as the adolescent’s freedom, responsibilities, discipline etc. are areas which might stir parents’ strong feelings and often, disagreement. Parental authority is often denied. The couple feel they are growing old and the marriage has lost its charm. The stressful years suffer a sense of boredom, loss of self-worth, trying to control the spouse, resentments and the like.
Eventually, as children grow older and leave their home, there are further profound adjustments required between couples. Decline in physical attractiveness and health, depletion of financial resources, feeling of insecurity regarding old age, possible loss of their own parents, all these factors contribute to the diminishing attraction of marital life. However, husbands and wives can take up an active role in revitalizing the marriage by recognizing, supporting and sharing each other’s reasons of mourning. They must make attempts to be with each other in their emptiness, guilt and frustrations.
Thus, mutual bonding is a must to cement a marriage when it is threatened by various potholes on the rough patches of life. The love should grow, mature and deepen with the course of time rather than wane away. As long as both continue to invest whole-heartedly into the marriage, it will continue to be the beautiful communion that it is meant to be.