What makes some marriages successful while others fade away?

 

In what seems to be a cosmic conspiracy, images of the perfect couple beam at us from everywhere—advertisements, billboards, movies and romance novels. A beautiful woman gazes wistfully into the eyes of her handsome fiancé who has just made her breakfast in bed. A man goes down on his knees in the middle of a crowded place in pouring rain—to propose! He arrives at her doorstep with chocolate, champagne and roses. The woman stirs his coffee every morning, her hair in beautiful disarray, with a saccharine-sweet expression in her glittering, dark eyes.

These images are important, not just to sell the brands and products they represent, but because they are considered the very stuff idyllic romances are made of. They mislead us by dictating to our subconscious minds the elements that comprise a perfect relationship. Also, no one can deny that contemporary romance has indeed taken on a very commercial flavour. The requirements are clear: candlelit dinners, long-stemmed roses, moonlit walks in exotic locales and diamond-studded jewellery for every day of the week, from your anniversary to your birthday, to the day he first took your dog out for a walk!

 Reality Knocks

 

Reality is different from fantasy. Your man may have to rob the nearest bank in order to be able to afford a solitaire. His idea of a perfect evening could involve imitating a couch potato as closely as possible. The only time he may reach for a candle is during a blackout. And if he ever goes down on his knees, you can be sure he may have dropped his car keys. But before you court martial him for his crass neglect, take a moment to reflect. Are you sure those commercial, time-tested gestures of romance are real? Can a relationship flourish solely on sheer materialism and nights on the town?

You must understand that reality will put your relationship through several tests. You will revel in moments of togetherness, quiet companionship, love, laughter and life, but these may be liberally interspersed with other sore trials, desperate challenges and a grievous clash of wills. Unfortunately, in the real world, there are many stumbling blocks that can pose a threat to the happiness of even the most loving couples. Financial woes and work pressures can make husbands negligent and wives lonely. Children can eat away into the time and attention you would otherwise wish to lavish on your spouse. Exhaustion, fatigue and illness often steal away the sunshine and laughter from your days. With such overwhelming odds working against most couples, what is it that keeps the love alive in a relationship?

 Dance in Tune

 

When you share your life with someone, giving in and making adjustments are a crucial prerequisite to living together in harmony. Tolerance, especially in everyday mundane matters, is the single-most important factor to strengthening bonds. For instance, you know the toothpaste is squeezed out at the wrong end, but you are willing to make allowances because you love the hand that wrought the damage. His snoring through the night may keep creatures on distant planets awake, but you manage to sleep anyway, having devised a set of super earmuffs made from two sturdy pillows. He inevitably knocks ketchup on your brand new dress that just cost you an arm and a leg, but you are willing to grin and bear it. Keep in mind that these minor adjustments will only help your relationship grow richer over the years. Sometimes, however, your spouse may have habits that annoy you. You may not be able to come to terms with these as easily. In such situations, experts say, it is best to express your feelings without hurling accusations or being unduly nagging. “A gentle reminder when your spouse does something upsetting can work much more efficiently than a heated argument in which each points finger at the other,” advises Delhi-based marriage counsellor P. V. Roy. “Unfortunately, couples today are not willing to compromise in the least and, in most cases, the blame lies with both parties. In my experience, I’ve dealt with couples who were ready to call it quits because the wife doesn’t serve the tea hot enough or the husband burps way too loudly!” To accept your spouse wholeheartedly as an individual, in spite of faults and imperfections, is now seen as critical to marital happiness.

People should wake up, break free from stereotypical images and accept their spouses for who they really are, warts and all. It is only when one individual tries to “change” the other that the problems begin.” With divorce becoming increasingly easier these days and no longer taboo in most circles, a loving tolerance is the unique gift you can bring to your relationship.