In the 2013 Bollywood film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani directed by Ayan Mukherjee, Ranbir Kapoor plays the role of a young man called Kabir Thapar who describes marriage as having “dal chawal” every day. “Dal Chawal” is considered as one of the most unimaginative and boring of Indian homemade meals.
It’s been a while since the film came out, but this is a popular, and still-growing concern among many couples. The world is increasingly full of options and distractions — what if they get bored with one another?
A couple that I am coaching, S and D, have come to me with precisely this problem. Both are in their late thirties, have an 11-year-old child and have reasonably successful careers. Everything in S and D’s life runs smoothly as of now. They have support-staff at home, their child is doing well in school, and they both get along well with each other’s extend families. There are no fights, no forms of abuse and nothing in the marriage that can be stated as a concern.
It seems that “nothing wrong” is also a kind of wrong. If a couple must deal with issues and crises together, they are in an automatic ‘doing’ mode. Errant children, serious health issues in kids or each other, or in other family members, work-related problems, financial issues, strained extended family dynamics — all of these, while difficult, keep a couple occupied, while possibly adding a sense of camaraderie.
All our lives we wish for a trouble-free existence. But how many people really know how to lead their lives when it is trouble free? The most common outcome of being bored — or of having a lack of difficult situations — is infidelity, or in some cases, an open marriage. But that’s not the choice everyone makes.
S and D for instance, want to get out of this boredom and figure how to manage the different phases of a relationship. I help them categorise ways to tackle their boredom into two lists of to-do’s. One which they can do at home and the other what they can do outside.
They are both avid online gamers and I suggested that they play those in which they can pair up as a team. Most online games are based on challenges that one needs to overcome. A simulate crisis that they can overcome together could be a good option. The two of them also enjoy cooking, so we came up with the idea of making a MasterChef style pressure test recipe together.
S is fond of reading and D said she doesn’t mind picking up a book occasionally, so I suggested that they have their own little two-person book club. Take it a step further and dress like a character from the book while they discuss the book, see where that leads. D said she would love to restart her painting and would be happy if S joined her. They also pointed out that they have a karaoke set up at home which should be brought out and used. Once we set off on this journey, their excitement was contagious, and our creative juices were flowing!
In the following session, we moved to the second to-do list: the outside-home category. Since they both love the adrenalin rush of adventure sports, they decided to plan one trip a year to either skydive, bungee jump or go river rafting. Solving mysteries in an Escape Room style place is another thing they did once and enjoyed. We came up with many more activities like learning to sail, going on historical walks, and we added them all to the list.
While we enjoyed ideating, what S and D really needed to do was to commit to doing these activities. Here’s one that S and D have already started with: playing squash together every morning in the easily accessible clubhouse where they live.
The reason I have mentioned many of these examples is that I hope they will inspire couples reading this article to be creative and pick their own exciting things to do together. Not only is it fun, but it is also a great bonding experience, which then aides the other aspects of your relationship.
A life that is smooth sailing should be considered a blessing. Unfortunately, however, a constant assault on our senses, with unlimited information at our fingertips has taken away the joys of downtime. Used to this, we expect a similar and constant stimulation from everything and everyone in our lives — from our partners, to our kids (extracurricular classes, sports, homework) and parents (join a senior citizen group, go for satsangs and religious meets).
We want every minute to be accounted for. Perhaps we need to sit back, relax and enjoy the journey of life. We might feel lost initially, but eventually we will find that even silence brings a sense of warmth when we are with each other.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on email@example.com