We live in a world of constant input and stimulation. Accessing any kind of information is really at our fingertips. To add to that, there is the ease of communication and global travel. Given that the exposure one can have is much more than it was even a few decades ago, our evolution as individuals almost constant and fast-paced. How does this affect the relationship between two individuals, especially a couple?
A client of mine is in the 19th year of her marriage. She is 45 years old and has two teenage children. Her concern is that she is growing apart from her husband. She has been a home maker for most of their marriage.
As many women tend to do, she gave up her career in the interest of bringing up the children. Her husband was on a great trajectory professionally and continues to do exceptionally well in his career. His job takes him across the world. He meets the brightest of minds globally.
Now, she feels like their worlds are very different. Hers is all about their children’s further education and functioning of the household. Her husband’s is all about his work and the global impact of it.
Over the years they stopped keeping track of each other’s lives, and at some point all their conversations became transactional. My client feels that her husband is very aware about the world and its goings on, while she has a very peripheral view of such matter. Conversing with her husband has therefore become difficult for her. The only thing the two seem to connect on, together, is their children’s education.
So, when this client tells me this and more about perceived intellectual inequalities, we start work on bridging the gap she feels in her relationship with her husband. We chart a course where she can pursue her interests and focus on herself. We also work on communicating effectively with her husband to involve him in the endeavour, so as to enhance their relationship.
I am sure that my client’s experience resonates with many couples across the world.
But another couple I met — let’s call them R and M — quite serendipitously at an event, got married when they were just 23 and will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary next year. Their chemistry was quite palpable — I couldn’t but help ask them how they’ve grown together as a couple, and continue to nurture their love and their marriage.
Their first insight was that both partners must commit to make the relationship work. This was an unconscious choice in the beginning, but over the years it’s been a conscious one. Similar to the journey of my client, R gave up her career to raise her two sons. However, she worked on keeping a balance between looking after the kids, taking out time to be with M, and also getting her alone time.
R remembers fondly how 16 years ago, M wanted her to accompany him on a work trip to Turkey. Their children were then 4 and 2. Her first instinct was to say no, and she did. M’s disappointed face however, pushed her to leave the kids with her parents and make that trip with M. They had a great time. This decision of R’s to make time for her and M as a couple, made it easy for them to share the happenings in each other’s lives with ease. This even meant that M, who is an entrepreneur, involved R in all the decision-making in his business. M says he values her advice the most as she is perhaps the only one who calls things as they are, without the fear of upsetting the boss.
Both R and M agree that from when they got married at 23, to now at 47, each has become more independent in the relationship and has more confidence. The reason, they say, is that they have always taken time to keep each other abreast of what they are experiencing.
What about the struggles, I asked them. M says they have massive arguments and fights. R says that it’s a sign of how close they are, according to her couples that don’t fight are not in an honest, close, and healthy relationship. She goes on to add that often their arguments reach a deadlock. Her way of handling it is: space. They take time away physically from each other, or at times when physical distance is not possible (like during the pandemic), they decide not to talk for a few hours or even a couple of days. R says, taking time out to think through things, helps in not making any hasty decisions which one does when trying to prove their point in a fight.
When she says that growing together as couple is a conscious choice that both partners must commit to, R sums it up well. That then translates to ensuring they spend quality time with each other, learning from each other, supporting each other, appreciating each other, giving space; not only physical time apart but also to be the person you are becoming in your own individual evolution and last but most important, taking decisions together.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org