After You Say ‘I Do’

My brother-in-law who loves initiating debates on contentious issues sent a mail last week and suggested this as a blog post. If you haven't clicked on the link, it talks about how women nag husbands and the 'alarming statistics' that reveal wives actually nag husbands 8,000 minutes a year.

Whether what they nag about is justified or not is for a later post; today, let's find out why married couples fight. And how we can avoid these sometimes nasty outbursts.

My colleague Khristina wrote this interesting post about the things you should ask before tying the knot. While I completely agree that it is important to know what you are getting into, nothing prepares you for the shocks/surprises of married life. No matter how many questions you ask, you are never prepared enough for the roller-coaster ride called marriage.

So here's my take on this 'wonderful' institution and all that comes with it!

Expectations: At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, keep your expectations to the minimum. Whether it's love or arranged, the more expectations you have from your marriage, the more likely you are to be disappointed.

Example: A friend of mine was in a long distance relationship for 5 years before she married her long-time boyfriend. After the initial days of love and fresh air, the mundane affairs of everyday life started taking their toll and she was bitterly disappointed. All that mattered before marriage was when they would start living together, when they would get to see each other every day. The romanticism of living under the same roof however disappeared when she had to deal with wet towels left on the bed day after day despite repeated reminders.

A lot has been said about the need to communicate with your partner; while you should definitely communicate because that will not only help you deal with many issues, it's also the only way to achieve some realistic expectations that you have set for the both of you. A gentle word of caution, however — there is a time and place for communication of any kind.

Case in point: You are out for dinner over the weekend and suddenly the couple you are out with get into an argument about how the husband never helps with the child. Well, in this case, you really don't need to communicate your disappointment with your husband's child rearing abilities just then. Not only is it embarrassing for the people you are with, it is bound to be very uncomfortable for your spouse.

Mediation: In case you do need someone to mediate, make sure it is someone both of you trust. Sometimes you individually might want to confide in someone; make sure you discuss your issues in confidentially and others don't get to know about your personal problems. Someone once told me that discussing your marital problems with everyone is like leaving the door of your bedroom open.

In-laws: Most of us have a love-hate relationship with our in-laws and some just have a hate relationship. So here's what you should do:

* No matter how much you think your mom-in-law should probably be rechristened monster-in-law, you cannot give vent to such emotions in front of your partner. You must always remember that no matter how much your in-laws manage to exasperate you whenever they are around, they are related to your spouse and it's not nice to hear criticisms about your mother or sister.
* Never resort to personal insults. Try to get your point through by explaining what's bothering you; calling names will only aggravate the situation.
* If there is a particularly contentious issue that you never seem to agree on, try and convey it through your partner. Parents are more likely to agree/forgive anything their son/daughter say will say rather than what they hear from their daughter-in-law/son-in-law.
* Moving in with parents: For most of us who have lived alone for a while it sometimes becomes difficult to even live with our own parents for an extended period of time. While living with parents might have a lot of positives, like you might save rent, your children will have grandparents' supervision, and you might be able to take better care of your aging parents, think before you make the move. Living with in-laws is a very different ball game altogether — for all it's benefits do you really want fireworks every day?

I am not talking about physical space only; you need to give each other emotional space to understand each other's fears, insecurities and apprehensions.

* Be supportive emotionally: While getting angry never helps, sometimes giving your partner the space to vent anger helps. Don't take that personally; instead try to understand what's riling them and what you can do to help. Sometimes only listening to them without getting agitated is enough.

Since I have given you enough to think about for this week, my next post will have the remaining five tips. Watch this space for more. In the mean time do share with us your tips that make your marriage beautiful.

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