By Mimansa Singh Tanwar
‘Relationship complicated’- A status update commonly seen and felt by all. Once you get married it just simply states ‘married’, perhaps subliminally stating the ambivalence of experiencing both positives and complexities. That’s what a marriage entails, making two individuals live through a lifetime of emotions and experiences in the relationship.
While each individual holds certain views and expectations about marriage, what makes this journey more satisfying for some couples vis-à-vis others is their individual elements that they bring into the relationship. Every marriage has a unique flavour. What each couple lives through in these years of togetherness is different for all. Yet one can fall back upon certain principles of marriage that keeps the foundation strong.
A successful marriage can be defined by the use of 5 ingredients, that are uncommon in unhappy and shrivelled marriages.
- Adaptability and Sensitivity towards each other’s needs : Marriage indeed brings in a huge transition for the couple. Both the partners not only share the space but also their individual identities. As with the growing changes in the society, the role played by both the partners in the marriage also demands a transformation. This can particularly be challenging. To be able to create and sustain a stable marriage, couples need to learn the art of balancing the “We” and the “I”. It is important for both the individuals to undergo a process of adaption and self-transformation where they are able to redefine their identities as a couple and yet maintain their self-esteem and self-identity for a healthy marriage. When the burden of undergoing change is hugely bared by one partner, it turns into an asymmetric relationship which leads to unhappiness, resentment and agony in the marriage. It is important to be sensitive to each other’s needs. Couples who highly value each other’s needs and support each other through thick and thin, experience an emotionally satisfying relationship. Knowing small things about your partner, likes, dislikes, how to make them happy or calm them down in times of distress goes a long way in maintaining warmth in the relationship.
- Communication: The cornerstone for any relationship is the quality of the communication. Couples who share information about their day to day proceedings, express feelings, grievances, anxieties and stress with each other develop a stronger bond and trust. An effective communication also entails good listening and empathetic skills. Lack of these skills can make the partners feel distant and disconnected. “I feel my partner is not able to understand me” or “I feel like me voice goes unheard in this relationship” is commonly experienced between couples. Interrupting the conversation with some assumptive remarks or passing a comment can make the other partner feel judged and further impact the communication patterns negatively. In no time, a small discussion may turn into a big fight, which one may later realise to be inconsequential in a relatively calmer and rational frame of mind. It is absolutely important to maintain patience, validate emotions and express empathy in communication. It should also be aided with appropriate reciprocity, verbal or non-verbal, to make the partner feel heard and comforted.
- Self-awareness: Self-awareness is crucial for an individual’s growth and the multiple roles played by him or her. This holds true for marital relationship as well. Self-awareness creates the ability to be in tune with one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviour. In the context of the marital relationship, a self-aware partner sets realistic expectations from self and the spouse. Rather than blaming the partner, through self-introspection, they focus more towards identifying flaws in one’s own thought process and behaviour that may be affecting the relationship and builds more tolerance for the other person. The individual develops better self-control and is also able to take more stable decisions or problem-solving approach in difficult situations. The process of change and harmony can be brought about in any relationship if each individual is aware of their strengths, limitations and is willing to work on themselves.
- Resolving conflicts: Conflicts in a marriage are inevitable. Numerous vectors within and around the marriage can potentially create conflicts in the relationship. How the partners handle these conflicts and respond at the time, is critical to shaping a successful marriage. It is important to acknowledge that every marriage will have problems that are difficult to resolve like personality traits and differences in the families. Any conflicts arising from these factors should be handled taking a constructive approach to understand and accept differences. However, couples must engage in effective conflict resolution skills to be able to solve and manage other conflicts. Most conflicts end up in a fury, with both parties throwing unintentional words and accusations at each other with a strong need to defend themselves. This creates a bowl of uneasy emotions, often heading towards a dead end. To ensure healthy resolution, both partners must speak in a calm state. If the conversation is getting heated up, partners should leave the place for a short period to calm down the emotions to re-engage in a healthy discussion. Engaging in open communication without interruption, expressing one’s feelings and thoughts freely, acknowledging one’s mistake and genuinely apologising for it are key elements for good conflict resolution.
If you want to know more about your partner’s love language, and how they prefer to give and receive affection; you simply must read the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman!
- Cultivating shared meaning and goals: For a long lasting, deep connection in marriage, couples must work towards creating shared purpose and goals in life. Having a shared vision gives a purpose to marriage and encourages both partners to work towards it. It could be their vision of how they will raise children, contribute to the community or achieve professional goals. Even during extreme downfalls in relationship, couples who have a shared purpose get back to thriving and pulling and supporting each other. They have mutual admiration, love and respect. Spouses should also build quality time, where they engage in activities of interest in a shared space. People who have very different interests, must give each other the space to follow their bliss and yet stay connected by sharing about their interests with each other. To further add to the fun and mood of the relationship, couples should develop a shared sense of humour where they laugh not at each other but with each other. Humour acts as a good coping mechanism, giving couples the strength to feel positive even in difficult and stressful situations.
One may find it hard to definitively answer if marriages are made in heaven. But what we can surely establish is that a happy, long-lasting and fulfilling marriage is certainly cultivated by two the individuals different in their own sense walking together towards creating a synchronicity and balance in this very long journey called marriage!
About the Author
Mimansa Singh Tanwar, is Clinical Psychologist and the Coordinator of the Fortis School Mental Health and Clinical Psychology Program with the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences. She has been practicing in the field of Psychology for the last 8 years and has been integrally involved in working with children and adolescents.
Her passion is in working towards enhancing the mental health of school aged children. She has been also been conducting numerous workshops and seminars over the years with students, teachers and parents. She also conducts workshops in corporate on lifestyle and stress related issues and has keen interest qualitatively working towards mental well-being in organizations. Through media she has been working towards making Mental Health a priority for the young members of our society.