In the recent Raj Mehta film Jug Jugg Jeeyo, Kukoo (Varun Dhawan) and Nainaa (Kiara Advani) end up fighting about the unpaid electricity bill at their fifth-anniversary dinner. For the internet, it was instant meme material.
This scene was added to highlight the distance that had come between the couple, and doesn’t stray too far from how a romantic evening may go for many couples who have long since blurred the lines between romance and the mundane.
“It’s very hard to keep the romance going in the way films or books expect you to,” says Sunanya Mehta, a 37-year-old aspiring UI designer living in Mumbai with her husband. “I still remember how excited we were when we cooked our first breakfast together. We laughed and giggled the entire time, making such a mess in the kitchen. Now, eight years later, these things have just become chores.”
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While not every day is meant to be a scene out of a Bollywood romance, Shruti Shah, counsellor, psychologist and Founder of The Holistic Mind Therapy, says there are four real way to reconcile the domestic with the romantic in a long-term relationship.
Don’t Feel Guilty
“When living with in-laws, in a joint family, or with kids, many couples have a tendency, especially the women, to allocate more time to the family at large instead of their partner,” says Shah. "While our movies can be a lot more progressive in depicting romance at home, in real life, this is often a stretch – taking time out to spend with one’s husband isn’t considered sanskari.” The first step to carving out some special time for your relationship is to shed this conditioned guilt.
“We are very quick to criticise. Where once we used to talk to our partners with love and care, now we often chide each other for work not done, pending bills and the various responsibilities that are added on," says Shah. She adds that couples need to remember the 2C’s that are important in communication: Compliments and Criticism. “You need to talk about the good, appreciate the good, even with simple gestures – this can bring about a whole change to both yours and your partner’s day.”
Widen your erotic worlds
It's easy for forms of intimacy to become routine, explains Shah. “You’re now with a partner who knows everything about you – even what you like and don’t like in bed. It’s integral to keep discovering each other physically too. Spending time understanding each other’s pleasures can help keep monotony at bay.”
Don’t have reel-life influence expectations
“This is by far the most important. Violins aren’t going to play in the background every time you look at your partner, and neither will you have steamy sex on the kitchen counter, especially if you live with your in-laws or children," says Shah. "You have to understand that over time, romance is in the mundane — having that cup of tea together in the morning, doing chores together, sharing responsibilities, and talking about your dreams and future. All these are forms of love when you and your partner are on the same team,” she adds.
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On the one hand, we long for safety, the comfort of love and the feeling of being grounded, and on the other, we ache for excitement or often miss the heat of passion, the ‘honeymoon phase’. Honest effort and communication on all four points listed here can solve for this and help your relationship become the best possible version of itself.
Richa Sheth is a freelance writer based in Pune. She explores complexities within human interactions and relationships.