I have often heard it said that successful relationships are built on shared interests. ‘Like attracts like’, they say, to reinforce the argument. Before proceeding any further, let me clarify that by ‘successful,’ all I mean is that the couple gets through the day without mortally wounding each other while living under one roof!
Where was I now? Ah, shared interests! While it is wonderful to do things together, it is not mandatory for a successful or enduring relationship. By having separate spheres of activities - even professions - not only does the relationship thrive on a personal level, but also on a professional level where competitiveness might otherwise disturb the harmony.
If you ask me, having the space to pursue one’s own individual activities or hobbies is even more important than sharing the same interests. It is this space that allows the relationship to breathe. Personally, I would find it immensely claustrophobic to be doing everything with the L&M (Lord & Master) without having my ‘me-time’ or my own set of friends.
Oh wait! What am I saying? Actually we do share a lot of interests, the L&M and I. Take for instance, food. We both love it – I love cooking it and he loves eating it! To be fair, he eats everything I make, even some of the dishes that are of the extreme jugaad kind!
We also love travelling. I, for the whole experience and he for the next thing on the agenda. Like, we start on our journey and I am admiring the sights and sounds and he is already thinking of the destination and the tea/dinner that would follow. And once we reach there it is about the things to do – one after the other, and then the trip back! And no, it is not just because he is tired with all the driving or jittery about the drive back. It is the same story even when we take a driver, the train or other transport.
As for sharing activities, that is another story altogether. I told you that we both like food, right? Well, the L&M loves cooking too. But he likes to share this activity. Like the time he would offer to make kootu, for instance. After telling him categorically that he can use his own recipe and even add garlic (which he loves and I abhor), I would relax, dreaming of catching up with my Oz series, when he would holler:
‘Can you tell me how I should cut the lauki? Just show me one piece and I will do the rest.’ Once that problem is disposed of, I sigh and pick up from where I left Dorothy and he would call me again. ‘Can you tell me which masalas I have to put? Just this once,’ he would quickly add. I walk back to the kitchen biting my tongue till it bleeds, lest it runs away with me. After that it would be, ‘how much salt to add,’ ‘which tadka pan to use’ at regular intervals.
Incidentally he is an excellent cook and on the days I am unwell, he does a fabulous job of cooking without asking me for a single tip and I can smell the flavours even from behind closed doors. I understand that he wants me to be around to ‘share’ the activity. Methinks that the media is to be blamed for brainwashing him into taking the ‘sharing’ bit a little too seriously!
And oh, we have these ‘complementary’ interests too. When he is not offering to ‘share’ the cooking, he complements it by shopping for vegetables and fruits. But please don’t get me started on that one!
I can go on and on about a zillion other ‘shared’ interests we have, but you get the drift, don’t you?
Suffice to say that we have survived four decades in this business without sharing the same interests or activities as portrayed in the media. I am sure there are millions of couples like us who are doing famously without breathing down each other’s neck 24x7 in the name of ‘sharing interests.’
So go ahead and do things by yourself once in a way, or more often if you like. Your relationship won’t collapse, believe me!