Sacrifice in Marriage – Give in or Give up?

When I was a young adult, I often asked my mother, who worked only a few years in her otherwise housebound life, why she did not pursue a career as a professor when she was offered the job after she got married to my father. Or I would ask her why she always waited upon my father to start with dinner. Or I would quiz her on why she did not cook things that she liked to eat more often. The answer was always the same – sacrifice; my father liked it that way.

Then there were times when I would wonder why my Father, who’s a businessman, never switched over to riskier but possibly, more rewarding business ventures; or did not take that overseas job when he could have. His answer too would be the same – sacrifice; it would have been hard on my mother and us kids.

Then a few years back, I came to learn that the husband of one of my closest friends had been cheating on her for several years. They were on the brink of a divorce. But in the end, she forgave him and is now trying to build a new life for both of them. When I asked her why she forgave him, she gave me the same answer.

Then when I got married, my parents gave me this piece of advice –

Keep your ego aside in your marriage. Love unconditionally. Adapt, adjust, compromise and sacrifice. But always stand up for what’s right.

With that in mind, I compromised on a lot of things in my married life – a career, a beloved city, changed my habits, my attire, who I hung out with, and many more things. But that doesn’t mean that only I changed. My husband made changes in his life too. He quit some habits I didn’t approve of. He now eats whatever I put on the table, even if he doesn’t like it. He will do things and go to places only because I want to go there. And the biggest adjustments and sacrifices in our marriage came when our daughter was born.

I think you may have understood by now what this article is about – sacrifice in marriage. It sounds scary, the word sacrifice, like one of those words that sound daunting and depressing, like the word death. But mostly, sacrifice in marriage comes from the little changes we make in our lives to keep harmony and love in the marital home. Sacrifices, along with love, trust, forgiveness, friendship and communication, make the foundation of a happy marriage.

It does not matter how small the sacrifice is – giving up your side of the bed to your partner who prefers that side, changing the brand of your tea because it doesn’t suit your allergic partner, giving up a career or a particular job to rear up your children – as long as it’s a change you made by suppressing your personal preference for something that brings peace and happiness in your relationship, it will be a bona fide sacrifice.

Sacrifices, or let’s just call them adjustments to make them sound less daunting, show your partner and your family that you truly love and care for them; to let go of what you like, and make space for them instead. It’s easy to say ‘I love you’, but it’s difficult to prove it. But one way of proving to your partner is to love them unconditionally and change your lifestyle to make things easier for your relationship.

So if you wake up earlier than everyone, to make your husband a fresh meal for the work, it is a sacrifice that shows you love him. And in turn if your husband gives up a few minutes of his time to clean up the kitchen after dinner, that is a sacrifice that shows he loves and cares for you. That’s what families do – make adjustments for each other and love each other unconditionally.

Whether to give in to your spouse’s demands or give up on the marriage depends on the kind of sacrifices or the frequency thereof. For there are good sacrifices and bad sacrifices too. The difference between them is that while the former empowers the marital home as a whole, the latter only empowers the bully in the relationship. I’ll give you an example of both –

The above example of making a fresh meal for the husband while sacrificing your sleep, is an example of a good sacrifice, because it ensures that your husband is taken care of while he works. You do it out of love and concern for him. But even sacrificing your ego and forgiving your spouse for an occasional lapse in sanity or good temper, is also a good sacrifice. Afterall, that’s what spouses do, stick together through thick and thin, good and bad, in health and sickness.

But if these occasional lapses become a usual thing in your family, then it’s time to stop sacrificing and stand up for your rights. It’s not a sacrifice when you stay quiet over a grave matter like child abuse or domestic violence, or constant bickering and being taken for granted. Forgiveness is one thing, but there’s no place for violence and maltreatment in a marriage. Bending to someone’s will for something that is unfair or wrong, more than a few times, is not a sacrifice.

In the end we must remember that all relationships require some sort of adjustments in our behaviours. That’s what living in a society is all about. If we all started to only think for ourselves, we would have anarchy. But the most demanding relationships are those in the immediate family – husband-wife and parents-kids. They require an uncountable number of sacrifices, some of them even downright unfair. It is upto us to decide where we give unconditional support and where we draw the line.

I leave you with this apt quote on what marriage is really about by Darlene Schacht –

Marriage is a thousand little things… It’s giving up your right to be right in the heat of an argument. It’s forgiving another when they let you down. It’s loving someone enough to step down so they can shine. It’s friendship. It’s being a cheerleader & trusted confidant. It’s a place of forgiveness that welcomes one home, and arms they can run to in the midst of a storm. It’s grace.

Pradita Kapahi.

 

I GAVE HIM THE SILENT TREATMENT AND HE DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE!!!

“He should know me by now. Doesn’t he know what I want?”

“If he has one ounce of common sense he would know what I am feeling”

These are the thoughts going on in the wife’s mind while hubby darling is watching television blissfully unaware of the turmoil going on is his wife’s mind. Isn’t this a common scenario in many households?

Boils down to only one thing – lack of communication.

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To start with I accept that I am not an expert in communications. At times my communication with my hubby leaves a lot to be desired. But after 16 years of marriage and observing many couples around me I can say one thing for sure.

That communication is the oxygen of relationship. It’s a relationship after all, with two separate individuals in it. Do you expect your spouse to be able to read your mind and understand what exactly you are feeling at the moment? Well, it’s really not possible. You need to share your feelings, your needs with your partner. Don’t just assume that he or she will know or rather should know. Sometimes we suffer the most when we don’t communicate but still expect others to understand us.

At times I have seen wives sitting calmly and showing no outward signs but inside their mind there is a huge conversation going on. The fight has already begun in their mind and they are ready to explode but outwardly they will appear very calm. So now God help the poor helpless husband who doesn’t suspect anything amiss and the explosion occurs.

There is of course the other side to the coin. Which I will call Over-Communication or nagging. Here again generally the wives are famous for nagging. They repeat the same thing over and over and communicate so much that it has the entirely opposite effect than what is desired. But look at it this was she cares for you so she nags you.

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One important aspect of communication is listening. Knowing that you are being heard is one of the experiences most likely to cement a feeling of connection to another. Remember communicating also means to listen and understand the other person’s point of view. Don’t just say your part, understand your partner’s perspective also. Only then we would be able to find a middle path which is acceptable to both.

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Let me sum it up in a few points:

  • The best way to communicate is to avoid extreme criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  • Understand your partner’s way of communication. Some of them show with their actions that they care rather than words. Value their efforts instead of expecting things your way.
  • Your significant other is not a mind reader. Remember that!
  • Don’t keep your emotions bottled up. But at the same time don’t overdo the communication bit.
  • Be a good listener too. Try to understand the other person’s perspective.

And remember the three golden words we learnt in the nursery rhyme “Please, Sorry and Thank you”. Yes they work wonders in the adult life too. Try it!

DIFFERENCES, OKAY NOT INDIFFERENCE

Hello Everyone,

*Note: Talking about marriage not compromises, love should be the essence and present, whatever be the type of marriage – Love or Arranged.

Wife to Husband:  Look at that hero, how emotionally and romantically he is confessing his love to his lady-love on-screen.  How romantic he is!  You don’t love me like that, in fact you don’t love me at all😞

Husband to Wife:  Dear, he charges a whopping amount to romance his lady-love on-screen, why don’t you ask his lady at home.  After all he is just a husband there😉.

This is just a petty example of what happens in day-to-day lives of married couples.  This is where differences crop up.  Love exists but is not seen.

I have often heard elders saying differences and fights are a part and parcel of relationships.  It shows everything is normal and love is intact.  If you see a couple with no arguments, get it that they are not normal – Shall I believe that?🤔

Differences –  Why?  Well it’s not rocket science that differences are a result of viewing the same thing  differently.  To some extent, comparisons also add fuel to the fire. A simple instance: when we see Facebook pages and see everyone enjoying (apparently) holidays in the displayed pictures, a feeling that everyone else around is happy and having a gala time except “Us” impacts relationship.  Let’s take the above mentioned example.  After few years into marriage, the wife (for that matter husband can too) starts complaining that the husband is not devoting enough time to her, there isn’t romance left in their relationship.  She needs more of his time.  When husband is asked about the same, his answer would be this is not because of lack of love but he has many other things to take care of.  He can’t be just a lover but a responsible husband/ family man who thinks of a secured future for his family.  Wife is agonised by his physical absence but she is psychologically always with him because he cares for her and want her to be safe always.  She wants petty beautiful moments in present and he wants a beautiful future.  That’s it.  Both have different ways of saying and showing “Love”.

That was just a tip of an iceberg.  There could be many other reasons for differences to trend.  Relationship with  family members of the spouse;  maturity to handle issues like past relationships; personal goals and I can literally go on.

Differences are Okay!  But they should be treated in time lest they take the shape of indifference.  It means when presence or absence; agreement or disagreement doesn’t affect people in a relationship, they are Indifferent to each other and that marks the end of a relationship virtually.

How to sort out differences?

  • Simple!  Talk to each other.  Be it any relationship, talking to each other can go a long way to mend differences.  Exchange of thoughts as to what we hope, expect, want, from our relationship and partner & how we feel can help put ambiguity to rest.  When air is clear love can surely find its way back.  Just as an apple a day keeps the doctor away, talking (don’t count complaints) to each other everyday keeps the relationship healthy.  Keeping thoughts to self for a longtime builds up frustration and could possibly have a catastrophic effect on married life.
  • Respect your partner’s view:  It’s important to understand that love can breathe only if mutual respect exist.  It might not be possible to change perceptions permanently (it’s important to have an individuality) but as a mark of respect towards our partner we can occasionally (read as often as possible 😉) try to do things which your partner expects from you.  No matter how small the initiation is but the effort only strengthens the relationship. Be it occasional candle light dinners, a little praise recognising partner’s effort in any task or an effort in understanding the work schedules, respecting privacy –  anything and everything matters.  Respect in a relationship is indispensable.
  • Three is always crowd:  On a strict note don’t let the news of your  differences slip to any third person before it is discussed end to end.  Involving a third person no matter how close he or she may be is a plain breach of trust.  Remember communication is important in a relationship not broadcasting.

I have been married for eight years now, have had my fair share of differences so far (to be continued 😂).  One thing I have clearly understood that we are two different personalities so differences are here to stay.  Patience, perseverance, honesty, respect and to top it all love is all we need to negate the differences.

Remember couples – opposites not only attract but complete and compliment each other.  You are different, think differently but don’t be indifferent.

WIN HEART INSTEAD OF WINNING ARGUMENTS

Marriage is a constitution where two people from different backgrounds, having different personalities come together to build a family. They start it with a lot of expectations in their hearts. But then life happens. The daily chores, tensions, pressure from boss and family members, past life and some finances, when intermingles with the others, stirs up heat and causes chaos and conflicts. Conflicts doesn’t only happen due to the difference in opinion or disagreement but it can also happen over time when stubbornness, pride, anger, bitterness, ego mix together to form issues between couples. It is present in all types of marriages and at times, manages to destroy the the beauty of the bond. A conflict between a couple can turn bitter in a matter of seconds or it can end in a very positive way. The only key is to handle it the right way.

There are many factors that can lead to disagreements and conflicts. To mention some :

1. Control and Power – It is not everyday in this modern world, that a person submits easily. Being in charge, having the power to control may affect the relationship if not handled with care.
2. Kids – The amount of discipline, love and attention to be given varies in each parent. One may try to be stern while the other lenient. One may think swimming is good for them, even at night and the other might oppose it.
3. Work – Consuming an ample amount of time in the 24 hrs. It kills couple time, makes them tired and much vulnerable to fights.
4. In laws – A touchy matter for both the persons involved. Due to a very different mindset and background, either they find us intolerable or vice versa. This creates stir in the family. At times over expectations from them also lead to conflicts.
5. Sex – A sensitive subject. Many couples are shy enough to discuss their fears, hopes and wants. This paves path for added frustrations.
6. Ex-es – Trust is all it takes. It is better to sit and talk about it and be strong not to fall into a past thing again.
7. Misunderstandings – When she says, ” I don’t want to go there” might be she really does not want to be there. Why assume and deduce something which is not true. It is always better to ask if not sure.

These are some of the factors, but there are a lot more. But only if one can handle these and try to resolve them in a positive way, then only can the bond of love be harmonious and pleasant. We must always remember that words have a great amount of power. They can break or make a person. It is we, who can determine how our words are going to affect the person at the receiving end. Our attitude towards our partner should be loving and respectful. We shouldn’t tell them that we do not care about them or how they feel just because we are angry on them. WE must also be careful of our surroundings before getting into conflicts. We should be ready to listen to their feelings and be able handle criticism. Each should get a chance to speak and being partners we should understand what our spouse is going through. A conflict between couples should never extend beyond bed time. Conflicts is not about who won in the end but how it ended. It’s always the person who is more important.

I would like to narrate a small incident. It is about a newly wedded couple. Theirs was a love marriage and everything about them was magical. The only bad thing was they fought a lot. Every now and then they would fight and then make up also. The only problem was that, they ruined the time and mood of their friends. Slowly, people started avoiding them. They had various tiny events that caused small conflicts, which in turn gave rise to big fights. Later, both understood that no matter how many arguments did they win against each other, they have lost it as a couple and have failed to win the heart of their spouse. Learning to limit our fights to the center of the conflict and forgetting about past events is necessary. Past things should be left as such because they are already forgiven.

As said by Matt Chandler :

“In too many marriage conflicts, we work too hard at winning the argument and too little at winning the heart!!”

LEARN TO FORGIVE – TO LOVE MORE

The arguments went on and on…

There was no end to it

Ego was not letting them stop. Each wants to dominate the other. The fight went on. Finally, she was exhausted and started to cry. He was more adamant after the heated conversation, hence he never turned back. The conversation had crossed the limits, rupturing their relation. There was an intense situation building up, an unhealthy relationship with no compromises, no love, and no interest to listen to each other. 

Even after this fight, their home was not a peaceful stage. Every other day, a new problem arose, the fights and arguments went on.Finally, the kids began to feel the insecurity, their happy home was not a safe place for them to live now. 

What is the sole reason for the fight?  

It is ego. 

Why the fight became worst?

The attitude towards the problem, compelling each individual not to forgive each other. 

It is said that Forgiveness plays a vital role in a relationship. No relation is perfect, but the attitude towards the problem can be modified. Every individual has a different mind, understanding and protecting these values with a forgiveness is important. We all humans are flawed even committed to making mistakes too, but to learn to forgive them is an art. An art that is important for a happy life. 

It is said that the couples who learn to forgive more or less are comparatively living a happy life. Lack of forgiveness is likely to bring on and stir up negativity in the relation. Negative emotions are more impactful than happy moments in the life, making the relationship more vulnerable.In a study conducted by most of the institutes, the importance of forgiveness in a relation  says that if a person holds a grudge : 

Brings in unhappiness and builds up anger in the relations.
The relation lacks the purpose and the commitment
Anxiety and Depression build up.
The joyfulness in the current happiness.
Once forgiveness plays a vital role in the life, life becomes peaceful. To bring in the tendency of forgiving any mistakes, one can focus on these points :

  1. The outcome of the fight: Whether both the parties involved have any benefit out of the fight. One might win over the fight, losing the self-respect. Hence decide on the outcome of any fight.
  2. Do not involve in the blame game: Blame game is a continuous process, this never ends, hence involving in it is time waste and building a rupture in the relation. 
  3. Listen to your rightful inner voice:  Our inner voice is the more powerful in make us judge the situation. The inner voice at times sounds soothing, yet it might confuse the mind. Letting us choose the path in getting victory over the fight but not in maintaining the relationship.
  4. Damages the intimacy of a relation: When we learn to forget, the other person will never be afraid to commit mistakes. Mistakes actually work in favor of a relation, as it brings in closeness in the life. When we learn to forgive small mistakes, then slowly we are building a healthy relation, where one never needs to hide their flaws.

When we keep in mind these all fundamentals of a relation handling, we bring out the best in us to maintain a happy life. Forgiveness is a basic factor for a compassionate life.In order to resolve conflicts in a relation, forgiveness is vital. It helps to handle any relation in a rightful way. 

To conclude, let me quote Bryant H. McGill: 

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.

 

ARE YOU SELFISH ENOUGH?

About a month back, I was feeling extremely low due to a lot of reasons. And that clearly reflected in my behavior. I often snapped at my husband, almost always complained to him of not taking care of me. I even started showing my irritation to my Mother in law and started complaining to her as well of so much work that I had to do because my husband won’t help me. Office work was piling up too and that also irritated me so much. So, overall it was a bad situation.

It was just a lot of work and I always had a huge To-Do list in front of me. I had absolutely no time for myself. “I have forgotten how to smile, I have forgotten how to be happy” I told my husband once.

Kapil (my husband) tried multiple things to help me. He tried sending me for a vacation which I refused saying that “I don’t have money”. He tried to convince me start my workouts and I refused saying that “I have no time”. He tried to persuade me to take up a hobby which I refused saying that “I can’t manage another commitment”. He gave up after a while.

There were too many arguments, too much crying and too much negativity.

Then one day he just fed sense into me. I already knew all that he said but he showed me the mirror. This was not the first time he asked me to join a gym nearby (Cult Fitness). But that day the way he said it so politely without pushing me or judging me that it sort of ringed some bells inside me. He said “If you keep giving in any relationship, the other person will keep asking for more. Why don’t you ask now? If you need time – demand it, if you need money – demand it”. That made some sense to me.

He knew that I had always been very fond of working out and I have stopped doing that regularly after having our baby. At night I looked up the website of Cult and to my surprise it was written there in Bold – 1 week free classes if you register till 31st of July. Ha! It was 31st of July and just 15 mins before the date would change.

I was in luck I thought. At least one week I can try! I registered for the free classes. There were a million questions in my head. How will I manage one hour? What all will I have to give up? For the 9 pm class, I would have to feed my son earlier. That would mean I will have to come home earlier. That means I will have to leave from work earlier. Oh man! But since I have registered I would do it.

Next day I told Kapil that I have a class at 9 pm. He was surprised that I did take this step. He was as enthusiastic as me or even more. He stayed for the whole class along with my son (which is quite unlike him). He made sure he changed his schedule so that I could make for the class every day.

That one week of free classes got over and I paid up for 3 months. I did a 16 days streak right in the beginning through a bout of fever and cold. I loved it so much. It changed my attitude towards me. I was doing something for myself and only for myself. That feeling itself was elating.

True it was, I just had to demand. I just had to ask my family for help. I just had to set the expectations with my son and my in-laws. Taking out 1 hour wasn’t difficult but I just wasn’t being selfish enough.

Since our childhood we are taught that “Selfish” is a bad word and being selfish is wrong. Really? Maybe it is. Selfishness means that you only know how to “Take” with no idea how to “Give”. Often we call a person selfish who takes from everybody but doesn’t bother to return the favor or even worse acknowledge the favor. So, being selfish is that extreme state where you just don’t know how to give back.

Selflessness is often thought to be good quality but that too has its own extreme. It means that a person only “Gives” and doesn’t know how to “take”. That doesn’t work in the relationship as well. If you keep giving, you become so empty that you have nothing at all left for yourself. And that is when all the irritation and frustration shows up.

Marriages often break when any one of these extremes is involved. The key is to balance. The key is for two people to really know when to give and when to demand, also how much to give and how much to demand. If we strike this golden balance in a relationship, relationship itself becomes golden.

This is true not just for marriages but for any relationship between two people. Strike the balance between being selfish and being selfless. That’s all!! Ain’t that simple but make a conscious effort and you will see it working.

DON’T STOP IMPRESSING EACH OTHER

Exploration keeps us interested in the thing that we are exploring. And the day we stop exploring we feel bored about our own self as well as everything that is around us that day.

Why did I say that? Let me give an example.

When I was young, I am not old yet though…  I used to keep exploring ways to make myself presentable in front of a girl or a peer in the school or college. I didn’t and don’t have a great physique to impress a girl or the female species. But I used to make myself very presentable intellectually. My humorous and witty interactions with others have done a good cover up for my lack of good physique. And I remember when my marriage was fixed with Asmita my present wife; I explored every possible ways to make myself perfect in her eyes.

Why this fervour goes down after sometime in a marital relationship? The time we stop exploring each other, the time we stop impressing each other, the time we stop self-decorating for each other we get into a mode of “Taking for granted”. And this mode is the downfall of every marital relationship.

Initially when I used to ask my wife to change this Saree to that she would do it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically because her husband said it. But now we always get into a big argument to conclude which one to wear or I simply stay quiet thinking ‘let her wear anything she wants, I don’t care’.

And when she does some cleaning work, some changes, something that made our home look good she always expects me to look around and say few words of appreciation. I take her for granted on that matter thinking ‘it’s our house only, she would only have to do… fine’. And the charm of the beautiful evening fades away right there.

There is always a risk involved when we assume or think that ‘she will understand it’ or ‘he doesn’t mind those’. But actually when it happens, it happens just the opposite, ‘she misunderstands it’ and ‘he did mind’.

Probably you must be going through a similar situation where you take things for granted in your relationship with your respective spouses.

Slowly we become easily irritable, intolerant. We become loud with each other. We become intimidating. We become unattractive for each other. We stop thinking how my partner feels. We start thinking about how I feel. The direction of our concern changes from ‘you’ to ‘me’ and ‘my’ only.

I am not talking about only physical or sexual exploration. But also about our mind, our emotions which need to be explored by someone who loves us, someone we count in our life. When someone from outside does that at that vulnerable time of ours we get attracted to that outsider or simply don’t feel anything.

Why only about marital relationship, talk about other relationships as well. We will find the same thing. We lose that fervour after sometime when we stop exploring about each other more.

Human mind is structured in such a way that it needs things new and fresh every time. But that is not possible in case of relationships whether it is about a marriage or other than marriage. That is where the word “renew” comes to the picture. A sword loses its sharpness if it is not sharpened every now and then after its exhaustive use. And relationships need to go through that process of sharpening all the time to keep them fresh, renewed and enchanting.

Concluding this piece I just want to say that for any relationship never forget THREE words at all… They are – EXPLORING each other more, RENEWING your relationship time to time and never stop IMPRESSING each other till the end to avoid the “Taking for granted” mode.

Stay Blessed.