I Truly Believe In Love

When I was in college (graduation 3rd year), I read two books as a part of our syllabus – The Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Both are great works. Human relations, follies, expectations, insecurities, vulnerabilities – mainstay of these works. Me being a romantic to the core person was swept off my feet by beautiful portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy – the protagonists of “Pride & Prejudice”. Elizabeth, a strongly opinionated, free spirited , well read, beautiful and a charismatic girl. Her beauty was not only what was obvious but her refusal to let herself to be treated as doormat added to her aura. Despite of not having grand fortune and unfortunately quite a few annoying pompous characters in her family she never let herself to act or sound vulnerable. Meekness or submission wasn’t her. She represented grace. On the other hand Mr.Darcy was rich by leaps and bounds. Was as opinionated as his female counterpart was but the natural flair of talking easily to people wasn’t his forte. His stoic silence made him look haughty. His reserved nature was often mistaken for being too proud to mingle. But as the story proceeds the layers over his character get unveiled, making him a desirable life partner for every girl. Ok, I will be honest with you all – I really wished to have a Darcy in my life – handsome, even more handsomely rich and to enhance every other quality that he possessed – sensible & madly in love with a person to go to any extent.

It was their chemistry that kept me hooked. Left me happily teary eyed everytime I finished the book. I actually lost count of number of times I have read this book (haven’t yet counted the number of views I have paid to the series). It is no less than a fairy tale following the suit where poor girl meets rich boy, they get married and happily live ever after. It is more closer to the real lives where a union of two people isn’t devoid of involvement of families and friends. Superiority complex of affluent ones, misunderstandings – both of words & silence, expectations tied to engagements, pride invested in qualities (materialistic and otherwise) one possess, prejudiced opinions one forms of the other and how finally love finds it’s way – we do find such elements in and around our lives, isn’t it? That’s why this fiction stood the test of the time.

My Draw: To be honest, whether I read or watch this work of art, majorly it’s an escapism to the rosy world of romance I adore. I simply cherish love stories. It hand overs to me a sense of happiness. But over the years it apart from happiness it gave me one important lesson – Pride about something – good or bad, inadvertently nurses prejudice. Let’s forget about the book and it’s characters for a moment. Let’s take an example from what’s around us. A man regular in his prayers and social work feels proud of his desirable ways of life. When he sees another person who is not very invested in regular prayers and social work isn’t a part of his regular proceedings of life, the former one immediately forms a prejudice about the later one about how wrong he is without knowing him fully, without having an awareness of his portion of struggles in life. It is very much happening all around us. No denial. So if you let pride rest for long in your head get ready for an add on guest – Prejudice, period!

Moving on from this story, have you ever thought what would be life of Elizabeth and Darcy when they enter their 60s? When romance blooms completely into love. Well, not sure of them but I came across a Indian regional movie that exactly defines what love and companionship is. The movie’s name is Mithunam, which means a couple. It’s in Telugu. The entire movie is about an elderly couple – Appa Dasu & Buchi Lakshmi, whose children have settled in different parts of the world. In the entirety of the film you will see only these two characters. It might seem to be a reel showcasing their daily mundane activities but the depth needs a heart to let it sink.

The first thing what I noticed after I finished watching this movie is it isn’t some unrelated, non relatable celebrities that can give us couple goals. If companionship has to be understood look at our grandparents, look at our parents. My own in-laws are together for 42 years now. Have seen lows and highs together. Being together is what mattered. And probably for the first time on celluloid I have seen where it wasn’t about the rose flowers but about the fragrance it spreads. It isn’t about the attraction during youth but affection in the dusk of the age. Where hero and heroine aren’t the glamorous hot shots but someone more identifiable and relatable with us. Completely in love with this movie.

What Mithunam taught me?

Many beautiful aspects have subtly touched upon in this movie that can make a life meaningful and joyful.

  • companionship means understanding the unannounced pain, doing your part without being vocal about it. There was a particular scene where the wife comes to know how her husband has been helping her best friend over the years to get her son educated after her husband has departed. Never once did he let her know about her friend’s ordeals.
  • Work your bodies and rest your mind. Movie beautifully depicted the mantra for a happy and healthy life. From growing vegetables, doing chores to even unconventional jobs repairing slippers like cobblers do, this movie also speaks about dignity of labour and self reliance though in a very nuanced manner.
  • For the first time I heard the concept of attachment and detachment in this movie. Our love shouldn’t turn into constant worry or impediment – for us or others. Live life as it comes – this is what Appa Dasu taught me.
  • At the end when Appa Dasu dies, Buchi Lakshmi cries her heart out and says “thank you God”. Don’t get her wrong, she opens up as she talks to herself “I was constantly worried what would happen to this man if I leave this abode before him, he is like a child who can’t take care of himself. Now my worries are put to rest”. Is this not true love considering the fact that in India dying as a married woman (before her husband) is considered good.

I can go on about this feel good movie, but surely there’s more this movie can give us. Available on youtube with subtitles, give it a try! These two works have strengthened my idea and belief in love. I may not have Darcy, but surely I want to grow old with my man and lead a content life ☺️.

WHAT WOULD BE MY LOVE VIEW FOR MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER WHEN I AM IN GREAT DISTRESS?

February, is a month of ‘Love & Being Loved” because of 14th Valentines day. And as I was discussing what could be the possible topic for this week in the beginning, Khristina suggested the topic: “Love view for my significant other.” This is a comparatively difficult topic to deal with as my team is comparatively young to talk on marriage relationships. 

I somehow started this week by sharing some of my marriage lessons that I was taught by my own life experiences. They were kind of off-track for the topic of this week but were important & unavoidable.

Then came three articles well-aligned with the topic which created great hustle-bustle, breaking the previous records of visitors on Candles Online. These three articles were highly appreciated, liked, read and shared.

Prabhjot delivered her expertise in the form of “Wave of Marriage” from the lessons learnt by her in her marital relationship alongside her handsome husband, Kapil.

Khristina & Rohan made the readers to stand and applaud for them for sharing their beautiful relationship & love experiences and blooming together as a married couple. 

But now when the truth-and-dare bottle spanned and settled aiming at me, the man senior to the people mentioned above in the marriage business, I felt like a kid standing on the podium expected to recite the already forgotten rhyme.

Yesterday, I was discussing about the above articles with my wife and today I felt so devastated and broken with lots of negative vibes around and within me.

How can I remember anything flowery and beautiful about my significant other when I am in terrible distress, have had a great fight with my wife, have terrible differences of opinion with her, can’t accept what she understands or expresses, am angry, have lost my mental peace… ???

At this state of mind when I sat down to do my part of the responsibility for Candles Online for Saturday evening, I struggled… I struggled to even think. I updated my status on tumblr, “WHAT WOULD BE MY LOVE VIEW FOR MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER WHEN I AM IN GREAT DISTRESS?” And I was immediately prompted to write on this…

Something caught my eyes which I wanted to start with… My friend Kristin, an amazing writer herself, describes a point like this in an article on her blog, Soulful Shenanigans:

“The difference between hurt and harm – While working on my marriage I realized the difference between hurt and harm. A truth my husband reveals about me may hurt my feelings but it doesn’t harm me. Hurt happens and we can’t avoid it. My husband hurts my feelings more than anyone else in my life and he is literally the kindest, most patient and loving person I know. But if he loves me fully he has to hurt my feelings sometimes and vice versa. It hurts to have sin revealed. It hurts to deal with the consequences of poor decisions. It hurts to say mean words and then have to deal with the repercussions. It’s okay that I hurt sometimes, because I recognize that because it hurts doesn’t mean it’s harmful. Harm is synonymous with mistreatment and abuse which is never okay.”

This piece from my friend made me to think and think positive about my hurts – that it was not with harmful intentions though I have been hurt and produced hurtful feelings many times by and for my significant other in the past.

I was prompted again about the goodness, the love emotion, the truth about my wife’s attitude towards me which can not be suppressed, hidden and denied in the midst of all such temporary hurt feelings, differences of opinions, misunderstandings and anger between us…

I felt taken back by the time machine to the years gone by as few scenes flashed in front of me…

The unending prayer pleas by my bedside when I am sick; the unspoken & the inexpressible heartaches because of my physical inabilities and weaknesses; the struggles of unwanted night -watching for my discomfort; the pain of carrying out undesired burdens of extra responsibilities; the display of forced smiles to manage the relationships and situations in the midst of taunts from loved ones. The list can be longer if I think and write more about her role, contributions and investments in my life as well as towards out marriage.

All she goes through are for me; to complete me, to manage me, to support me in life…

We both as husband and wife struggle as every other couple but we get strengthened again with the soft promptings from our God, the father. In between, as I was writing this article, she came to me to say sorry and give a hug; ultimately bringing a smile to me as well as tears in my eyes.

The following passage came to my mind:

“Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.”

Dear friends, if you are distressed, depressed, worn out and angry in your marriage… if you are thinking you are mismatched because of your mistakes… Remember, you can make mistakes but God can not. If He has chosen you both to be together, then work it out remembering all the beautiful things of each other that attracted both of you towards each other in the beginning of your relationships.

Stay Blessed!!!

GOD IS IN THE BUSINESS OF DOING AMAZING THINGS

My wife Khristina and I, must look like quite the odd couple to most people.

She’s a beautiful woman with North-east Indian features, born and raised in Kolkata, bubbly, friendly and fun. I’m this reasonable looking, shy, quiet and boring South Indian guy, born and raised in Mumbai. Not the usual combination you would expect to turn into a couple. But then, our God is in the business of doing amazing things.

Our love story had all the makings of a block-buster, pop-corny 80’s Hindi movie.

It started like most young love stories do, with the movie dates, the long walks and bike rides, candle-light dinners, long conversations into the night.

Then one day, we decided it was time to take our love to the next level… we decided that we want to marry each other. Now a new set of interesting characters were about to enter the plot … the parents!

The prospect of a non-Malayali daughter-in-law did not go down well with my parents. And thus began my year-and-a-half long saga, filled with drama, action and heart-break. My repeated attempts to convince them kept hitting a dead-end. At one gruelling point, Khristina and I were almost on the verge of giving up and going our separate ways. But then, our God is in the business of doing amazing things.

We finally got married, with the blessings of both our parents. Khristina gets along fabulously with my family and they all love her. My mom has become an addict of ‘Calcutta-style Chicken Biryani’ and loves Bengali food.

I firmly believe that God brought Khristina and me, together as a couple, for a reason. She completes me, filling the voids of my personality. Her strengths help compensate for my weaknesses. But I also believe that Gods purpose of bringing us together was to fulfill His plans for many other families, including my own.

I am thankful to God for choosing the perfect life-partner for me, who I will cherish and love forever. He is truly in the business of doing amazing things.

O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

– Isaiah 25:1

Rohan Jacob 

WHEN GOD GIVES YOU A LOVELY SURPRISE

What I love most about our love story? The answer is simple – it was unexpected.

It was like God was giving both of us a pleasant surprise.

I was introduced to Rohan by my sister’s then-boyfriend-now-husband. At the time, he was mourning the death of his beloved uncle, and I was surviving a massive heartbreak from the previous year. Neither of us were looking for a relationship. In fact, we were not looking at being friends either. It was a just a passing event, and a hi-hello was enough.

All in all, not great timing, one would think.

But when the plans come from up above, there is no questioning it.

We started off as friends, and as I think of it now – it was a perfect place to start. We met only as a group. Never spoke for too long (and never on the phone). Always greeted each other with warmth, and a listening ear. He was shy, I was wary, but we both were always friendly.

And that was seven months.

A chance lunch (not a date), just the two of us, changed the course of our lives. We talked, alone, in the restaurant, for three whole hours. As he went to use the washroom, I found myself smiling – and felt silly.

I must mention here – ALL this happened in just ONE day! Everything changed in one day.

As he dropped me off mid-way from home, he leaned in, and kissed my forehead – and I could not stop myself from smiling the entire journey back home.

Then, there was no looking back.

Our scriptures say in Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways.”

Isn’t it wonderful to get a lovely surprise from God almighty? So if the timing seems wrong, or the situation seems impossible – just know this, He loves to give us wonderful surprises to cherish lifelong.

(This was Khristina’s version of the story – Get Rohan’s version 
tomorrow)

 

“CLEAVING” IS THE SECRET OF OUR MARRIAGE

A deep marriage relationship is impossible without “CLEAVING”. Many marriage break downs were due to lack of cleaving between the spouses. But what does this word cleaving means? How do we cleave to our spouse? What is the process of cleaving? Let’s see.

The literal meaning of ‘cleave’ is ‘stick to like glue’ as the dictionary describes. In the Bible there is a Hebrew word for cleave is DABAQ. This word DABAQ has been used to define ‘holding tight in love’, ‘remaining loyal in adverse situations’, ‘remaining faithful & being committed to each other always’.

Thus, cleaving means –

– Physical, mental, emotional & spiritual bonding or sticking together in love, care & understanding

– Standing tight to each other when facing financial, familial, educational, or any other problems

– Being faithful & committed to each other even if there are temptations in front of us, rumours against spouses, conspiracy etc.

– Making every decisions together in one mind, in one accord

Today’s marital relationships lack ‘cleaving’ for which there are so many divorces, separations and marital break-ups. Cleaving (love, loyalty & commitment) does not depend on anybody’s feelings but that’s the basis of a marriage relationship.

Though I knew about CLEAVING before but learning about it afresh and renewing my mind & my emotions towards my spouse while sitting beside her was something different, special, interesting and exciting. We both were reminded about the basis of our marriage which was really very important though we were committed to each other till now.

This was a great learning for me and my wife, so thought of sharing it with you all.

Stay Blessed!

WAVE OF MARRIAGE

Before I got married, I often heard my colleagues talking about their spouses and usually joking about how love disappears after a couple of years of marriage. I often heard that once honeymoon period is gone, all the excitement of marriage is also gone. I was eager to find out why this really happens.

Then in 2010 I got married to my college sweetheart. And it was all beautiful in the beginning few months. As we approached our first anniversary, misunderstandings had started to creep in. The reality of living together dawned on us. Earlier we used to meet once in a while and used to give our full attention to each other in those few hours or even days. Now living together months went past and we hardly gave each other our full attention. And then came a period of darkest time in our relationship. Once we crossed that, our relationship seem to stabilize. Of course, both of us made efforts towards it – but it was that one dark period that we had to just hold on.

After 5 years of being married I have realized that marital relationship is much like a “Damped Sine Wave”. A Sine wave is the one that oscillates between highest high and lowest low and a damped sine wave reduces the intensity of highest high and lowest low with time.

Slide1

A marriage always starts at the highest point of happiness and togetherness. It is all fancy and beautiful then. With time the happiness goes down and down and it reaches the lowest low ever. This is time when you really have to hold on. Most of the divorces and breakups happen at this point. If you somehow manage to cross it, you again get a high but it won’t be as high as the previous – and there will be a low again which won’t be as low as the previous one. And with time highs and lows becomes almost a single line of stability.

When I look at my parents, I know that they have achieved that stable line since a long time. They love each other yet they have their own disagreements. They have figured out how to respect one another without judgmental attitude.

So, where do you think your marriage is? If it is in one of the lows – just hold on and stick together, there is bound to be a high. If it is one of the highs – make most of it so that it is easier to pass the next low. And as you will grow older together, you will get more and more stabilized.

 

POSING QUESTIONS FOR YOUR SPOUSE?

In a marriage seminar we learned so many things. Some were known to me before and some were pretty important which I needed to learn and practice.  There was one subject on communication in which we were taught about asking open and closed questions. I feel that we all should learn the skills of communication by asking proper questions to our spouses.

Asking questions seem very easy but questions which are irrelevant and can hurt while communicating are important to keep in mind.

Closed questions are those the answer of which can be in either YES or NO.  These kinds of questions really don’t allow the person answering any liberty to explain anything. Questions like, ‘have you taken food or not’, ‘do you like it’, ‘do you want to go’, ‘will you wear this dress’ etc., are the examples of closed questions. The answer of these questions can only be in YES or NO. If in our marital relationship we chose to ask only closed questions then we may not be having good communication at all. There will be communication gaps. There are less care and love and concern in close questions. I don’t mean that we should not ask these kinds of questions when required but we should try our best to avoid asking closed questions as much as possible.

Open questions on the other hand really allow the person replying to express his or her feelings. We ask open questions when we use ‘wh’ (what, how, who, when, where, why etc.) in any questions e.g., ‘how do you feel when you see me’, ‘what made you think that I would be coming’, ‘when do you think you can come, etc. We need to be careful when we ask open questions using ‘why’ because these questions are usually look judgmental e.g., ‘why do you go there’.

Open questions also make us understand the feelings of the other person which we won’t be able to know if the questions are closed or just in YES or NO. Open questions encourage people to share their feelings and their needs. So I learned that I need to develop my skill of asking questions which may help me to understand the deepest needs of my wife which I can then meet them easily.