Success in marriage is more than finding the right partner. A successful marriage depends on the manner in which the relationship between the two individuals who have now become life partners is handled. A happy marriage is not a one-time affair, but requires continuous efforts to keep it that way. “A successful marriage,” said Andre Maurois, the famous French author “is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.”
Here are some of the most important mantras of a loving, stable and life-long marriage:
Love Your Partner
“Happy marriages begin, when we marry the ones we love and they blossom when we love the ones we marry,” says Tom Mullen, the famous American singer and writer. Marriage is a sacred and satisfying relationship, which must be nurtured by love for each other. “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person,” said journalist, author
Love is the basis of a happy and long-lasting marriage. Without love, marriage will wither away soon. Marital love, which is called prem in Sanskrit, is a unique feeling, an emotional force that is much more profound and powerful than any other form of love. Besides love, compassion, respect, care and other feelings that are essential in all relationships, sex is a strong binding force in a marital relationship. Sex or lovemaking is not just a physical release but rather the sharing oflove and pleasure, and the expression of a rich and full life. Lack of sex can ruin a marriage. Sexual incompletion leads to unhappiness and frustration among couples and is the principal cause of many broken marriages. So, make your love’s romantic fire burning. How?
There are many practices in yoga that stimulate sex, make it stronger and fulfilling to both the partners. Many people have reported a general improvement in their health and sexual performance, and a happier life after being in yoga for a few months. A 40 years old hotel manager, who attended one of my yoga workshops in Mumbai, has this to say: “After practising yoga for about eight months, and following a strict diet, my weight reduced from 110 to 85 kg. Now, I feel very fit, and can do even the most difficult asana. I am six feet tall, and I am confident that continued practice of yoga will help me further reduce my weight to an ideal value for my height. Yoga has also improved my sexual potency, which has resulted in a very satisfying sex with my wife. This has improved our marital relations, and my wife adores me as an ideal husband.”
I receive, perhaps you also, numerous e-mails in my junk mailbox on sex enhancement, Viagra, penis enlargement, erectile problems, etc. Don’t get swayed away by these advertising gimmicks. They are not effective in increasing your sexual potency. Only good exercise, especially yoga practices and a healthy diet play an important role in one’s sexual life.
A good, balanced diet increases one’s sexual potency. The choice of diet is so wide that it is very difficult to say what to eat and what not. But certainly, fried, fatty foods are harmful for making effective sex. “Foods that keep the blood vessels in good condition help peg your body rich in testosterone hormone and estrogen (in females). These define your sexual potency,” says Prakash Kothari, an expert sexologist.
Vegetarian food also rids you of lethargy and makes you sexually stronger. A US study found that one in four North American men was impotent by the age of 60, and blocked arteries were to be blamed for it. Eating meat clogs the arteries that travel to all organs of the body and affect our sexual potency. Research has also revealed that vegetarians need less sleep and have higher energy levels, which makes them appear more appealing in the bedroom.
More important than what you eat is, when you eat before the act of lovemaking? You can’t enjoy sex with stomach full. When major chunk of your internal energy is being used in the process of digestion, where do you get the energy to fuel the sexual process that requires even more energy? You will get drained easily, and run short of energy to carry the sexual process to its successful completion. Yogic texts therefore, recommend allowing two to three hours for getting into the act of lovemaking after taking a hearty meal.
Drinking alcohol, smoking and taking drugs are bad habits anyway. Their use has a very bad effect on sex. Some people are under the wrong impression that a booze or smoke before sex will heighten their ‘spirits’ and give them a kick… .
Respect and Appreciate Your Partner
“It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created in years or even generations,” said philosopher poet Kahlil Gibran in his book, The Broken Wings. How do we bring that affinity in our love?
Human beings crave intimacy. They look forward to being loved, cared, and respected. However, caught in the rut of daily routines, we take our partner for granted and forget to show our partner how much we truly appreciate him or her. Appreciation is the purest and strongest form of love that asks for nothing and gives everything.
Holding hands reflect deep feeling of love and care for the partner. Take notice of little things to say hello, good morning, how do you do, good-bye, I am sorry, please, excuse me, thank you, if you don’t mind, I appreciate etc. These niceties and good manners are not only for third persons or strangers. Exchange these courtesies with your partner as often as possible. These are ways of demonstrating continued awareness and appreciation of another. You open the car door for a casual acquaintance (a lady!) as a matter of etiquettes, but when it comes to your own wife, you forget respect and courtesy. How strange!
Mutual respect is essential to a good relationship. It reflects the feeling and regard for each other. Give a loving kiss to your partner before leaving for work. Make efforts to greet the partner when he or she comes home from work. Don’t insist on immediately talking about important matters, paying bills, pending repairs, a new purchase, kid’s problems or something that needs attention. Ask your partner to share something good about his or her day.
Everyone loves to hear a compliment now and then. It makes us feel good about ourselves to have the approval or admiration of others. Praise and give compliments on his/her twinkling eyes, gorgeous smile, generous heart, new dress, or some achievement. There are many ways you can express your appreciation and love for your partner: You look gorgeous, beautiful, I love you more than my life, I love you from all my heart and soul, I am so lucky to have you in my
life, you mean everything to me, I miss you etc. Such expressions are music to your partner and he or she would love to hear them often. These words are not only to be found in etiquette books or to be spoken by lovers in a movie; they are for common use by every partner… .
Trust Your Partner
Trust is the most important thing in all relationships, and more so in marriage. When trust is broken, it is the end of the relationship. Lack of trust leads to suspicion, suspicion generates anger, anger causes enmity and enmity may result in separation. “Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communications. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships,” says Stephen R Covey, the management guru.
A telephone operator received a phone call one day. She answered, ‘Public Utilities Board.’ There was silence. She repeated, ‘PUB.’ There was still no answer. When she was going to cut off the line, she heard a female voice, “Oh, so this is PUB. Sorry, I got the number from my husband’s pocket but I do not know whose number it is.”
Without mutual trust, just imagine what will happen to the couple if the telephone operator answered with just “hello” instead of “PUB”.
And trust is built on honesty. If you are not true to your partner and tell lies, you are sowing the seeds of mistrust in the relationship. This reminds me of a young, newly married couple. The girl was not skilled in cooking except for a recipe
of chicken biryani, which perhaps, she picked up from a cookery magazine. After a month or so of enjoying their honeymoon and invitations from near and dear ones, one day the girl cooked her recipe. At the dinner table, the girl asked the husband if he liked it. “Oh, yes darling! It is delicious.” Actually he did not like the preparation at all, but knowing that she had taken a lot of interest and worked hard to make it, did not want to discourage her. The wife was happy and believing that he really liked it, cooked it very often.
Since she had no sense of proportioning the recipe for two of them, every time she cooked, lot was left over to be consumed the next day and perhaps, the next. The husband got fed up and one day in anger, threw the dish away and confessed that he hated her cooking. She was shocked and hurt. “I will never trust you. You are dishonest and told me lies,” she said with tears in her eyes… .
Don’t Criticise or Blame Your Partner
A man asked his father-in-law, “Many people praised you for a successful marriage. Could you please share with me your secret?” The father-in-law answered with a smile: “Never criticise your wife for her shortcomings or when she does something wrong. Always bear in mind that because of her shortcomings and weaknesses, she could not find a better husband than you.”
Very often, we have the habit of asking who is responsible or whom to blame, whether in a relationship, in a job or with the people we know. While responsibility and accountability are vital in a healthy relationship, unfair blame or criticism is toxic, especially when it comes to your life partner. We should always remember that when we point one finger at a person, the other four fingers point at ourselves. When a partner makes a mistake, he or she should not look around to find a scapegoat to point the finger at the other. This is the start of a war. Instead, take it easy, and don’t blame or criticise your partner, instead appreciate him or her.
A boy was born to a couple after eleven years of marriage. They were a loving couple and the boy was the gem of their eyes. When the boy was around two years old, one morning the husband saw a medicine bottle open. He was late for office so he asked his wife to cap the bottle and keep it in the cupboard. His wife, preoccupied in the kitchen totally forgot the matter. The boy saw the bottle and playfully went to the bottle fascinated by its colour and drank it all. It happened to be a poisonous medicine meant for adults in small dosages. When the child collapsed the mother hurried him to the hospital, where he died. The mother was stunned. She was terrified how to face her husband. When the distraught father came to the hospital and saw the dead child, he looked at his wife and uttered just five words. The husband just said, “I am with you Darling”.
The husband’s totally unexpected reaction is a proactive behaviour. The child is dead. He can never be brought back to life. There is no point in finding fault with the mother. Besides, if only he felt more responsibility and had taken time to keep the bottle away, this would not have happened. No one is to be blamed. She had also lost her only child. What she needed at that moment was consolation and sympathy from the husband, and not blame. That is what he gave her.
Many relationships break off because of wrong speech. Therefore, mind your words. There is a Chinese saying, which carries the meaning that “A speech will either prosper or ruin a nation.” When a couple is too close with each other, they often take each other for granted and say anything without considering if it would hurt the other person. Partners need to be polite. Relationship does not give you the license for rudeness.
A friend and her millionaire husband visited their construction site. A worker who wore a helmet saw her and shouted, “Hi, Emily! Remember me? We used to date in the secondary school.” On the way home, her millionaire husband teased her, “Luckily you married me. Otherwise you will be the wife of a construction worker.” She answered, ”You should appreciate that you married me. Otherwise, he will be the millionaire and not you.”… .
Balance Your Family Life
A major cause of conflicts in marriage is the imbalance in work and family life. The highly competitive, overworked and stressful life of the present times is a big barrier to enjoy a great marriage.
In the mad race to catch up with the changing times, we are losing track of what is important and in doing so we often sacrifice the values, which support our relationships. It is important we balance our careers and families for a successful marriage.
During the last few decades, because of various reasons, it has become quite common for both husband and wife to work and earn. This brings in the biggest imbalance in our work and family life. With dual career partners and the parenting demands, couples often complain of not getting enough time for each other. And if you and your spouse spend a great deal of time apart, due to different work shifts, schedules or frequent business tours, the time spent together may be even lesser. That can be a great challenge in your marital relationship.
If couples care for their marriage and want to enjoy it fully, it is essential they look seriously how they maintain a good balance in their family life and careers. They need to set their priorities right: happy family life or careers and lot of money. We are not saying that both the partners should not go to work, but they need to make certain basic changes in the way they are managing their lives. What options do they have?
First, let only one partner take up the mainstream career. The other stays home and manages the household. In addition, he or she can take up some secondary career operating from the home. In olden times, the husband, responsible for earning, went out to work while the wife looked after the home. This distribution of work between the couple may not be always feasible in the present social order where gender equality is the norm. Each couple has to see its convenience, skills and priorities to decide who goes out to work and who stays home.
Or, one of the partners takes a break from his or her career for a few years till the children become self-reliant. Here again, who should sacrifice career will depend on merit. If not mistaken for our gender-bias, we would suggest in most cases, it would be more fruitful for wife to make this sacrifice, because biologically mother is more suited to raise the offspring than the father. This is a Godmade difference between a man and a woman and we should respect that in the fair distribution of work.
In our own case, though Indu was equally qualified and competent to continue in her career, and I am sure, if she had continued uninterrupted, she would have risen to a very high position. But she decided to work intermittently as the family responsibilities demanded. At the time of our marriage, she was working as a research scientist in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, but left the job after we had the first child and stayed home for about three years. She took up a teaching job for three-four years and again took a break when our second child arrived. After the second child was about four, she took up a research job in Lady Harding Medical College and Hospital. She left that job too after about ten years when I got a good job in the Caribbean. In this way, she gave more importance to my career, sacrificing hers without any grudge.
Another option for the couple would be to live in the combined family where their parents or other family members can look after the children as both the partners go for work. This arrangement can be possible only if the couple and their extended family are located at the same place, and the parents or other family members are willing and capable to look after the children… .
Handle Disagreements Gracefully
Small disputes and disagreements are quite normal in relationships. A relationship with no differences or challenges could be dull. Disagreements or disputes can happen on many issues, and the partners should learn to resolve them with love and mutual understanding. Disagreements don’t sink relationships. Calling names or abusing each other does!
Usually, the matters are not serious – there is more salt in the food, tea is too strong, something is misplaced, child did some wrong – sort of things which can be handled with mutual trust and understanding. However, if not handled properly, these simple issues may turn volatile with anger or tension reaching a boiling point from where the situation can go totally out of control.
But remember not to try to resolve a dispute even if it is serious when tempers are high and partners
are mad. You may make the situation even worse. In such a situation, instead of dragging the arguments indefinitely, the best approach is to take a break, and walk away, mutually agreeing to discuss the matter later. Take time to cool down and let the storm of rage blow off. Go out, breathe deeply, do some pranayama, watch nature, and relax. This will soothe your soul and your mind will be more open and clear. And most of the times the things would get resolved by themselves.
Did you know that emperor Akbar had instructed his ministers not to carry out his orders immediately? They were asked to wait till the emperor repeated his order. This was to give a cooling time in case he said something in anger the first time.
Anger is madness in which one can do anything. We have a young couple in our neighbourhood. We knew that the husband, an MBA and general manager in a retail store was very short tempered, but did not know how far he could go mad with his wife. One day, I saw the wife with a swollen eye and asked her if there was anything wrong. Initially she was secretive, but later confided in me that her husband often beat her mercilessly on small disputes, even in presence of their teenage daughter, and pleaded that I talk to him. I tried to exhort the youngman, but he would not listen. Finally, I said to him, “Rakesh, if not for your wife, at least think of Anita, your teenage daughter. You are going to give her in marriage, say after ten years, and how would you feel if her husband beat her like you do to your wife.” “How anybody dare beat my loving daughter?” he replied.
”You said it right. Is not your wife the loving daughter of her father?” I questioned. He was quiet and seemingly moved by my words, promised to behave.
Silence is the best antidote to anger. A couple used to quarrel over small issues, as both of them were very short tempered. One day, the wife went to a saint and asked for some remedy for her anger. The saint gave her a bottle of some medicine and advised her to put a few drops in her mouth without swallowing, whenever she was angry. That evening, the couple had an angry bout over some issue, and the wife took the medicine as prescribed by the saint. Fearing she may swallow or spill the medicine, she kept her mouth shut. Things calmed down. Next day, she again went to the saint and told him that the medicine worked wonders and requested for some more. The saint said, “that was no medicine, it was just plain water, which kept you quiet when you held it in your mouth”.
Whenever your partner is angry, try to keep your serenity. Listening is a great antidote for anger. Listen to your partner’s concerns and complaints without judgement. Much of the time, just having someone listen is all we need for solving problems… .
Make Mutual Adjustments
Marriage always puts many demands on both partners for mutual adjustments and understanding, especially if they are from different cultures or family background. It is quite likely they may have lot of differences in habits, tastes, likes and dislikes, and lifestyle, etc. In married life, you need to compromise on certain issues which you may not really like or enjoy. Marriage is an orchestra; enjoy it being in harmony. Appreciate your partner’s differences and make small adjustments. One should learn to accommodate the other’s likes and dislikes with love and concern. Intimacy is bound to develop with such readiness to accommodate.
I recall the initial years of our own marriage. I had a poor sense of personal hygiene with respect to dental care and clothing. I appreciate how Indu, with her loving and caring concern made me brush twice a day, once in the morning and the other before going to bed, and convinced me to change my dress, especially undergarments every day. Again, she inculcated in me the habit of using deodorant regularly to get rid of the foul small of perspiration.
Over the time my concern for dental care grew so strong that I did everything possible to keep the teeth healthy and fresh. I started using neem twig for cleaning my teeth in the morning and brushing with toothpaste in the night. Though neem is excellent for protecting teeth from bacterial infections and foul small, and it showed its good effect on me, Indu was not convinced about its efficacy. Many years later when she had some tooth problem, she took my advice to try neem with good result.
Ever since, both of us use neem twigs in the morning and brush in the evening for keeping our teeth clean. Our teeth all in tact, are sparkling white, and beautiful till this age also (69 years for me and 65 for Indu)… .
Honour Your Commitments
Marriage ceremonies in many cultures include rituals where the wedding couples make commitments and take vows to keep their promises in their wedlock, in presence of priests, relatives and friends as witnesses. But alas! Partners forget those promises very soon. How nice it would be if you honour your vows daily, rather than just on that special ceremonial occasion. Do you remember what oaths you took, what commitments and promises you made at your marriage ceremonies? Keep those promises and commitments always alive.
On the occasion of his golden anniversary, a newspaper correspondent asked Albert Einstein: “Sir, what is the secret of your successful marriage?” Professor Einstein answered, “When we first got married, we made a pact that I would make all the big decisions and my wife would make all the little decisions. For fifty years, we have held true to that agreement. I believe that is the reason of success in our marriage. However, the strange thing is that in fifty years, there hasn’t been one big decision!”
Remember your partner’s birthdays, wedding anniversary and other important occasions of your married life and celebrate them with love and enthusiasm. How Mukesh Ambani celebrated his wife Nita’s 44th birthday with a custom-built $500 million jet plane with a promise of gifting her a Rs 5000 crore, 27 storeyed house in Mumbai on her next birthday, may not be your way. And you may not also present Imperial Majesty No.1, the world’s most expensive perfume that costs $215,000 for a 500ml bottle to your wife on her birthday, but don’t forget to wish her a happy birthday with a gorgeous kiss and of course, a lovely, affordable gift.
For her birthday, Victoria Beckham reportedly received a necklace studded with diamonds, rubies and sapphires worth $8 million from footballer husband David Beckham. He also flew out a team of top chefs from London to cook food for her in Spain. After three kids, some couples may find it hard to keep such spark in their romance, but not the Beckhams!… .
Share With Your Partner
An old couple walked slowly into a McDonald’s one cold winter evening. They looked out of place amid the young families and young couples eating there that night. Some of the customers looked admiringly at them. You could tell what the admirers were thinking: “Look, there is a couple who has been through a lot together, probably for 60 years or more!”
The old man walked up to the cash register, placed his order with no hesitation and then paid for their meal. The couple took a table near the back wall and started taking food off the tray. There was one hamburger, one order of French fries and one drink.
The old man unwrapped the hamburger and carefully cut it in half. He placed one half in front of his wife. Then he carefully counted out the French fries, divided them in two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife. He took a sip of the drink, and then his wife took a sip as the man began to eat his few bites. Again, you could tell what people around the old couple were saying. “They were used to sharing everything.”
Then the crowd noticed that the little old lady still hadn’t eaten a thing. She just sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally sipped some of the drink. A young man came over and begged them to let him buy them another meal. The lady explained that no, they were used to sharing.
As the old man finished eating and was wiping his face neatly with a napkin, the young man could stand it no longer and asked again. After being politely refused again, he finally asked the old lady, “Ma’am, why aren’t you eating. You said that you share everything. What is it that you are waiting for?” “The Teeth,” she answered
Well, you may not share dentures or spectacles with your partner, but there are lots of other things in relationship that you need to share. In fact, relationships work only when they are two-way streets, with much give and take. Share all your secrets, your moments of happiness and sorrow with your partner. Confide in your partner, as no one else understands your needs and limitations better as he or she. Your partner is a great source of strength in your difficult times.
And wait! How about sharing household responsibilities! If you are not involved in the household chores, you may not even know how difficult
it is to manage home-affairs. Sharing household activities, especially when both the partners are working and there are kids at home, is very essential to maintain cordial relations in the family. Indifference or selfishness of partners in sharing the household responsibilities is often the cause of many marital conflicts… .
Grow With Your Partner
“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle,” said Sam Levenson, the famous American TV host. But, our promise is that if couples sincerely apply the forgoing mantras of happy marriage, a lifelong relationship may not be a miracle, but a reality.
Our relations with others in the family may change with time, but the sacred relationship between a husband and wife is eternal. Partners always need each other, but much so as they grow older. Your sweet heart is the best companion you can ever have. Indian born, writer and activist, Arthur F Lenehan gave this advice to all brides, “If any of you happen to marry an archeologist, you’re in luck. The older you get, the more he’ll be interested in you.” Poor brides! Don’t lose heart. Try to find that archeologist in your groom.
Love your partner even more than you loved him or her when you were younger. It is never being too old to hold hands. “You don’t stop loving because you grow old. You grow old because you stop loving,” said someone. Don’t take your partner for granted. Keep yourself well dressed, attractive and adorable to your partner, no matter what your age. And remember love is not always for lust, sex, and sensual pleasures. It is much more profound and sacred. It reflects the feeling and regard for each other. Be with your partner as much as possible, and try to do things together. Sharing common interests and participating in each other’s activities brings closeness.
Fortunate are the couples that live together till a ripe old age. Pray that you live with your partner together forever, for saat janam. You are helpless if death takes away your partner, but why you strain and sever the relationship deliberately by your wrong and selfish attitudes… .
Excerpts from the book Building Great Relationships: All about emotional intelligence (Sterling Paperbacks)
By BK Trehan and Indu Trehan