Soma Das writes this article for Hindustan Times on Relationship advice: Experts tell you 10 secrets to making your marriage last for the long haul. During the interview Soma spoke to me about research on MicroMoments…sharing a coffee together, watching a show, a surprise during the day, those small gestures that build the strongest relationships. Read on…
Organising a wedding is hard work, but making your marriage work in the long run is the true challenge. Unlike the easy-going courtship period, marriages can suffer from misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations and communication gaps.
“The wedding is only the start of a journey. Don’t be under the misunderstanding that marriage comes with inbuilt commitment. It is actually the most fragile of all bonds and needs work on a daily basis,” says psychotherapist and trauma therapist Hvovi Bhagwagar.
While romance is necessary to sustain any marriage, romanticised ideas of “eternal love” and “forever after” hamper the relationship. So, one of the best things you can do is to maintain crucial relationships with your friends or family after marriage, so that you don’t put too much pressure on your spouse.
“A partner is expected to fulfil the role of a parent, child, friend, financial provider and romantic interest. Instead of overloading one relationship, have various groups that celebrate different aspects of your personality,” says Juhi Parmar, psychologist, Mpower.
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind to make your marriage a success:
1. Take a micro moment: American Professor Barbara Fredrickson from the University of North Carolina believes that it takes just a micro moment of genuine connection to spark a spiral of mutual care between people. So, instead of grandiose gestures once in a while, you are better off sharing interesting anecdotes about your day to your partner, going on surprise dates, ordering your partner’s favourite dessert at work, and calling each other through the day to keep the romance going.
“Micro moments are crucial to us humans. Research shows that the healthiest humans are ones who engage in positive mutual contact with other humans through the day. When we hug our partner, child or pet, we are again creating those magic moments that increase happy brain chemicals. In any intimate relationship, micro moments are very necessary, be it a long hug/kiss or a love note when the partner isn’t expecting it,” says Bhagwagar.
2. Communicate: “Ensure that you talk about important issues, be it finances, investments, the children’s future or your partner’s career. At the same time, do not brush negative emotions under the carpet,” says Bhagwagar.
3. Keep your partner’s preferences in mind: If you are gifting your partner, bear in mind that it should make them feel special and not vice versa. “Many of us tend to go instinctively with what makes us happy when gifting our partner – be it in terms of presents, or picking a restaurant or movie for dinner. It’s an innocent error, because it’s easiest to know what brings you joy from your own experience. However, the idea is to make your partner happy. Be mindful to pick what they appreciate and enjoy,” says Parmar.
4.Be respectful towards your partner: Tolerance is the best way to prevent needless quarrels in a marriage. “Try to avoid changing your partner and be respectful of individual differences in habits and customs. Avoid saying hurtful and spiteful things to your partner (especially as you know their weaknesses),” says Bhagwagar.
5. Bickering can be good: While constant fights are not a good idea and can strain your relationship, bickering once in a while prevents the build-up of resentment that can eventually blow up into a huge conflict. “The couples I meet in therapy who say very little to each other are usually the ones who finally split up,” says Bhagwagar.
6. Accept that you feel hurt: If you feel hurt by your partner’s actions, acknowledge it and communicate. “That does not make you a weak person. Work towards resolving the conflict by changing the pattern of behaviour so that both of you feel comfortable,” says Parmar.
7. Don’t play the blame game: If you constantly blame the other person and get defensive all the time, it can cause your relationship to crumble. “Acknowledge your role in the mistake, and apologise even though you feel something was done unintentionally. Everyone makes errors – share the burden,” says Parmar.
8. Do things by yourself: Just because you are married doesn’t mean you have to do everything with your spouse. “Doing everything with your partner eventually leads to monotony. One ends up feeling smothered in the other person’s company and getting annoyed by their quirks. Ensure you leave time and space to miss each other, so that you want to do things together,” says Parmar.
9. Don’t drag in the in-laws or children: While you may harbour certain grudges towards your in-laws or your partner’s parenting skills, it is best to not drag them into any argument you are having with your spouse. “Most partners hurt each other by pointing out parenting flaws with their own kids or flaws with the partner’s family,” says Bhagwagar.
10. Say “I feel that”: Instead of using the accusatory statement “You did…”, which makes the partner feel attacked, say “I feel that” which leaves room for interpretation and discussion, says Parmar.