Monday, December 10, 2007

Anatomy of a Marriage

There have been bitter fights at our place for the last two days and things haven't been easy. Obviously, it's making Rahul a little insecure, but I don't know what I'm going to do about it. I'm not going to compromise on what we are fighting about, because I believe it is the very essence of my relationship with V (or indeed, anybody).

In simple words -- either I trust you or I don't. I may be friends with you even if I don't, but I will not depend upon you to get me out of a jam, I won't call you when I'm in need, I won't tell you what is really bothering me and you will never know what I really think of you. But if I do trust you, there is really nothing much that I would hold back from you. This is an old issue between V and I, and I've had to work really hard to re-build the trust after I caught him lying to me. Not again.

All the words that we threw at each other got me thinking about how strange it is that I should be married to a man who has a different notion of being married from my own. To me marriage implies

1. Absolute fidelity. I don't so much as flirt with another man. I'll be honest -- I don't waste my time flirting because I know I'll never take it anywhere else, and then the whole point of flirting is lost. It won't boost my ego and I don't believe in raising false hopes. Sleeping with somebody other than V is accordingly not an option either. I'd never forgive him if he cheated on me and I believe in practising what I preach.

2. Treating his family and friends with the degree of warmth, respect and courtesy I expect him to show my family and friends. It's often an uphill task with his family, because of past history, but I think I'd let my parents down by being disrespectful to my parents-in-law.

3. Keeping a comfortable, functional home, ensuring three warm meals a day and stocked cupboards. Ensuring clean, presentable clothes. I wanted to have a pretty house but V soon knocked that out of me. Since running after him all day is not an option I've got used to living untidily, but I do like to have the things that I use clean and working.

4. Upholding his self-respect in public. Now, I'll not claim I've always done this (but I believe I always should.) That means not bitching about him, not allowing someone else to put him down and defending his decisions as if they were my own -- I guess in a way they are, too. And by someone else I mean our parents as well, his and mine. When he left his job last year his mother was very upset and blamed me for leading him astray. I'm glad I stuck to my guns and stood behind him on this one, despite my own misgivings, because the freelancing ended up going very well eventually. Careerwise, if not financially. :)

5. Providing for the family. Since I don't earn anything worth mention any more, to me this has become ensuring that the household is functional, the money properly spent, that we all have enough of what we need.

6. Bringing up the children to respect the parents. Since he was a Wee Bhablet only two months old he has boycotted people who he thought were mistreating me. So I try not to put V down to him. In front of him, maybe, but not to him. I think that our arguements are between us, so whatever I say there are our business, but I'm never allowing The Bhablet to use that to put either V or me down. I know how regressive this sounds, but I really would rather have him respect me than like me, if I had to choose at all. Because I don't think there can be much liking without respect.

7. Tolerating each others' interests. V and I don't watch the same movies or listen to the same music. I read his books (I read anything that is handy) but he doesn't read my books and doesn't want to. He is not interested in clothes (unless it's something exotic) and I'm mad about them. But he accepts that I need The Beatles handy, that I am drawn to theatre to the extent of leaving him home to babysit of an evening while I catch a show. I accept that him standing in front of the Apple store with drool hanging to his knees is something I'll have to live with.

8. Helping out, taking an interest. I don't do the work he does, but I am interested in it. I only found out that it could interest me by asking him about it. So I may need to think a minute before I can remember what AJAX stands for (and even then get it wrong) but I can hold a non-social conversation with his clients and have done so. I wish he were more interested in whatever little bits of work I do, but it's not a huge deal to me. So long as he provides the support (both emotional and logistical) for me to be able to continue it.

9. Speaking the truth. Always, always, no matter how avoidable I think it is. I'm in the habit of telling V about every little thing I do. Conversations I had, movies I saw, people I met, emails I received, everything. That started out because I love to chatter, but I do it because I have learnt how important it is to know what your partner has been up to. An ex used to lie to me a lot. Meaningless, silly lies. He thought they would save arguements. They destroyed whatever hopes he had of building a lasting relationship with me. I mean, we are still friends and good ones, but I still take most things he tells me with a pinch of salt. Even though he lies much less now.

10. Sharing. It's a little bit of 3 and some more of 9, but I can only be with somebody who I can take everything to.

There are other things, but these things are what make up a marriage for me. What is your idea of a marriage/committed relationship? How do you define commitment?


Grafxgurl said...

i firmly believe every one of your points is absolutely vital to a healthy marriage.

AS a "newly" wed..i dont have much experience but i do have something to share with you that has worked through countless generations.

Unconditional Love...its hard.. it seems unfair sometimes.... but in the end.. it is unfailingly victorious.

like it says.. Love the "sinner".. not the "sin"

*hugs*.. i know we have never met, but if we did i know we would get to be great buddies!!

Hip Grandma said...

your idea about marriageand the commitment that automatucally comes with it are okay but do allow a little flexibility.No I don't mean that you shud put up with unacceptable behavior.Just try to analyze the situation in a little more depth.There may be more to it than what you perceive.In short a little more maturity will go a loong way in making marriage a pleasant committed experience.

Mona said...

i think you've made some great points. but like hip grandma says, i would allow a little more flexibility.
and what you said about choosing respect over like, bang on! me too.
to me, the foundations of my marriage are trust and commitment. the very core of it is that. i trust z, blindly and he me. as long as i know he's committed to our marriage - to making it stronger and better for both of us, that's all that i need. everything else is negotiable.
maybe that really is too simplistic, i could go into detail on this, but i don't want to hog ALL your comment space!

RJ said...

Very well written post and thoughtful. Btw, I'll do your tag soon.

Rohini said...

Well written, Sue. It sounds like something I might have written but with two changes:
1. Infidelity is out but a little bit of flirting is okay as far as I am concerned. It's a lot of fun as long as all parties know it is a joke...

2. I think the other rule is that while we do end up putting our role as parents first, especially in the early years - one should not led parenthood completed squash your time and space as a couple...

hack said...

i thought it meant sharing everything, doing things together. if it can't be that, i agree with most of what you said. i mean, ours is rather similar to yours. except that i wonder if you can live like that long-term, sharing what you can, and doing the rest by yourself. i think the greatest reason for a relationship comes out of a need to share. preferably the happy things more than the sad ones. i don't know if i can be in a relationship where i am doing most of the things i enjoy by myself, and taking only my problems to him. mane, this i still really don't know.

umarah said...

well i agree to all of your points but i think they are not the WHOLE be completely honest with you i think all your points are very well implemented in my marriage but i dont think i have the best marriage in the world.i guess sharing common ideas is very important.not about everything cuz theat will be impossible but about the main goals of life.and i think hubby and i dont have common idealogy about many things and that what causes arguements betwwen us.

DotMom said...

intersting points you make sue. To me it all boils down to having the same value system. The expresion might differ (he prefers objects to people, I prefer people to objects), but at the bottom of it our values are the same. And committment means, never give up, never stop trying..

Sue said...

Grafx -- Unconditional love is such a tall order. Some days I don't think I'm capable of it. And yeah, we would be great buddies, you don't forget the water connection we share!

Hip Grandma -- I've been trying. I hate being unjust. I think what happens is that I start out with good intentions, but since V refuses to ever acknowledge that he has been wrong (too) I end up losing my cool and saying very wounding things. So that just makes it worse.

I can understand you think I'm being immature. Maybe I am. But I have a very real problem with lying.

Mona -- Trust and commitment are big to me too. They are both threatened when I find out that V has been lying to me. I don't think I have it in me to be flexible here. I know V is committed, but if I can't trust him, I don't want to be here any more.

RJ -- Do! I've been waiting.

Rohini -- Actually, flirting merits a post in itself. I feel what wrote comes across as being slightly out of context. As for #2, V and I both try to make little bits of time just for us two. Recently I've noticed that he seems to treasure them as much as I do.

Hack -- You can't share everything. There are 28 years of V's life which I know only through hearsay and that's a remote form of sharing. But yes, I share both my joys as well as my sorrows with him. I don't think he does, though. He tends to keep his problems to himself. It used to bother me, until I realised that he really is a very private person.

Umarah -- Right now I am no longer sure V and I share common goals. Perhaps we do but there is so much doubt in my heart. V and I do agree on how we want to bring up our son. He and I show the same respect to our elders, whatever our private opinions of them may be. These are fairly big things to have in common.

How do you think a couple (say you guys) can work out common goals?

DotMom -- Dammit, DM. I want to give up sometimes, I want to throw in the towel and go back to the comparatively uncomplicated singlehood. But I guess my subconscious goes along with you and Grafx and doesn't let me.

Chozhan said...

been a silent reader for while now.
the thought that I may be the only guy to comment makes me uncomfortable..
in V's defence, may be he didnt lie, just didnt remember to tell you???
see this happens in our house a
lot :-)

First Rain said...

You have my vote! :)

the mad momma said...

going back to a point at the beginning of the post... when you say that you have different ideas of what a marriage is... what are his ideas? how do they differ from yours...

also.. why does he lie? no finger pointing involved, but i know that i usually FLIP out when something upsets me. which makes it seem like i'd be hard to confess to - but the truth is that i am one of the most easy ppl to confess to... so maybe you are ready and willing to forgive whatever it is he thought he'd have to lie abt .. he's just too scared to tel the truth? damn.. going around in circles here.

Anitha(nikki's mom) said...

It is like how I would have written. I CANNOT STAND LYING. period. That too from someone I share my life with. My hubby does not do it, but he does more damage than by JUST NOT TALKING AT ALL. Will you believe there will be days when we would have hardly spoken anything other than, "food is on the table, eat", "come to bed","bye" and such like. That too when we do not have any fights. He is such an intensely private person, that he does not like me blogging, and we have been having fights over it. He knows I love reading and writing, these days he is getting annoyed when I take up a book, it is more as a protest to my blogging. I wouldn't give up blogging unless I really want to, I see this is an incursion of his personality onto my interests. I am not giving away any info about him, not posting pics of Nikki, but I will write.

D said...

Do all women think alike or is it just that there's too much simlarity between what you and I think? I'm surprised, to be honest that there's so much in common here. I also end up talking about everything that makes up my day and sometimes I wonder whether concealing the truth is as bad as lieing (?)

S said...

That's pretty much the anatomy of mine, too.
My husband lies about smoking, all the time. I used to (note the use of past tense here) find it impossible to live with that, in the most literal sense. And I agree with what theMM says about being receptive- I wasn't, used to blow my top the minute I found out he was lying. But I consciously changed that (not that it's stopped him from lying). Arghh!!
Bottomline- It's a commitment, gotta work on it anywhich way to keep it going. Try not making a big deal out of it (not to him, to yourself). No it doesn't help the situation solve itself but for me, it certainly negates the desire to drill (again, literally) sense into him.
P.S: Did I mention I so get your stand on lying??

Poppins said...

Very thought provoking post. I see my ideals are a little different from yours too. For one, I don't share everything with my husband, infact I'm much much more guarded than he is. Which is why he finds it completely odd that I spill my guts out to the blogosphere and like Nikki's mom says we have been arguing about it too.

I'm with you on absolute fidelity, flirting hmm haven't found anyone lately who would want to flirt with an overweight harried mother, so I can't say.

Everything else I'm with you on as well, including the speaking the truth part (although I have been known to fudge the cost of the duvet cover I bought at Maspar, out of plain habit).

You know what? I think I'm a lot like V and you're a lot like my hubby :) Which goes to say, we'll get along fine if we should ever meet :D

Sue said...

Chozan/RRC -- I wish more guys would comment, because this was not a rant. V read it too.

There are lots that V forgets to tell me, and I'm getting used to that. But this was deliberate lying, and I find it hard to accept that he did it for so long.

First Rain -- I'm not running for President, dude!

D -- I think what I wrote were fairly general things. And yes, in my book, a lie of omission is still a lie.

hack said...

sorry to go on about it, but i think this boy is also what i suppose, would be called a 'private' person. i don't get it. then what is a relationship supposed to mean? why is one into it, anyway, if you are going to remain a private person??? what is my function, being an emotional wallpaper? it's plain tiring, is what it is. being by yourself is harder, but definitely more rewarding. but, then, i am not leaving, am i.

Sue said...

S -- I know, I know. Still work in progress though. Because it IS a big deal to me. I saw my grandfather cough his way to death. I don't want Rahul to learn to love the smell from his own father. Two good reasons for me not to be ok with it.

Hack -- See, two private ppl can be content together. That is not the issue. The main thing is recognising what your partner needs and providing it. If that doesn't happen then often the relationship isn't worth saving. If it's not happening then efforts should be made to provide it. You don't need to talk to make somebody feel wanted. Nor do you need to completely give up your own space to make somebody feel secure. That's what I believe -- and have experienced.

AA_Mom said...

What a great and well thought out post Sue! I do believe in all this, couldn't have articulated it this well though. The only issue as everybody says is flexibility and where and how does it fit? If this is what is different between the concerned parties then the arguments start.

Sue said...

AA_Mom -- I suppose a start is made when both parties acknowledge the effort the other is making. Usually most people do make some effort, I find, but since expectations are high, much goes unseen. It's a mistake I continue to make myself.