No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they’ve been married a quarter of a century. These words of writer Mark Twain helped me take a conscious decision of an arranged marriage lest one should be arraigned later for making a wrong choice. Being the first born in an extended family, everyone was in a tearing hurry to see me wedded. ‘Get married in haste and repent at leisure’, was the lone contrary view of my marriage-hardened father.
I took the plunge with a caveat of an extended courtship. Take care to get what you like or you will end up liking what you get; was the underlying rationale. Little did one realise that more than knowing the prospective bride, there were so many blind spots in one’s personality waiting to be revealed by my psychologist fiancée. Till then, ‘Johari Window Model’, used for understanding relationships, had been only of academic interest to me.
The roots of romanticism lie in reality. The honeymoon phase over, I realised there was so much to learn, courtesy our disparate upbringing. It took me some time to master the art of sitting on bed without crumpling the bedsheet or bathing without wetting the walls of the bathroom. Life lessons of eating slowly without making noise, shutting the cupboards when not in use and walking on a mopped floor as if it was a minefield were repeated till they were perfected. Spirituality had taught me that you are not the doer; it was only in marriage that one learnt that whatever one did could have been done better.
Elementary grooming completed, it was now time to graduate to honing finer life skills. Fortunately, by then, I had the company of my children, thrilled to be their father’s co-pupils. Our demeanour, every word uttered and response to situations was under scrutiny. Learning for the youngsters was an exciting experience, but for me to unlearn and then relearn was rather exasperating. Programmes were constantly fed to the subconscious till I learnt to handle life situations differently.
The more she advanced in her professional field of psychology, the more I drifted towards the realm of philosophy. Some situations do not merit your reactions and meaningful silence is better than meaningless words; this was perhaps the greatest takeaway of my philosophical midlife. Happiness, after all, is assured when you finally decide to be a nobody. Eating your own words is a good diet to lose some ego, was a divine realisation.
As we approach our silver jubilee, I thank this nuptial alliance for bringing out the best in me. Otherwise, for most couples, marriage is all about understanding what irritates their spouse and using that knowledge strategically. I feel contented that my tutored son won’t have much to learn after his marriage and wonder whether he’ll ever seek any marital advice from his evolved father. Let’s wait till he loses his bachelor’s degree and someone attains her master’s degree.
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