A key factor in a long-term romantic or married relationship is the effect of passage of time on the relationship. Time can either cement or ravage a relationship. If you are in a healthy relationship, you will settle down into quiet adjustment and enjoyment of each other’s company. If not, you will continue bickering and nagging all your life. Tolerance and acceptance are the cornerstones of a happy relationship.
Have you noticed that as you grow old together, you and your companion increasingly think, sound and behave like one another? Maybe it’s the influence of each other’s company, or maybe people do tend to adopt the other’s characteristics and make them their own.
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Take food choices for example. Newly married, the hubby was somewhat fixed in his culinary tastes, with a penchant for all things Bengali. At his most adventuresome, he ordered Chinese cuisine. I was more cosmopolitan. Now after seventeen years of marriage and if I may add, a constant exposure to north-Indian cuisine through my cooking, he prefers to have matar paneer, garlic prawn and biriyani, while I look forward to typical Bong food like shukto and mocha ghonto. Once a confirmed Chinese foodie, he now digs kebabs and tikkas, while I happily gorge Chinese fare at restaurants. Why, I now prefer to cook garlic chicken to chicken cooked in Indian style.
Or take lifestyle choices. A couple I know has adjusted to each other so much that the husband doesn’t even remember that he was a late riser before his marriage. Now, according to his wife’s habits, he is up by six daily. The lady of the house has taken to exercising daily to match her husband’s enthusiasm for fitness.
Or even travel preferences. Couples eventually come to enjoy the partner’s preference more than their own. Aryan enjoyed a holiday by the seaside, while Reema was a confirmed mountain lover. After initial arguments on where to vacation, they decided to go to alternate places every year. Now, Aryan is an avid mountaineer while Reema swears by the sea breeze. The little adjustment they made was instrumental in cementing their relationship. What’s more, they widened their own horizons in the process.
Tastes in music and films or even books change with time, and couples surprise each other by doing a 360 degree turn. A husband who liked jazz and rock music slowly comes to love his wife’s ghazal collection with time. The wife starts enjoying Hollywood thrillers over typical Bollywood masala fare.
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More seriously, if the couple is well tuned to each other’s beliefs and values, however different from their own, they can take increasingly rational decisions on all important aspects like education of children, investments, and planning for retirement. After ten years of marriage, Alisha and Nikhil have accepted the fact that they will differ from each other on everything. So how do they adjust? By taking joint decisions on the major issues of life. When their only daughter was to be admitted to school, Alisha’s preference of a convent education won over Nikhil’s desire to admit the child to an international school. As far as financial planning went, Nikhil wanted to buy a house of their own early into their marriage. While Alisha would have preferred to wait some more time, she understood Nikhil’s urgency and gave up on a lot of comforts to pay for the EMIs of the housing loan.
Growing old together necessarily means accepting each other’s quirks.
Adjustment and compromise do not mean that you are losing on your individuality. It simply means that you value the relationship over your ego.
Remember the Hindi film, “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”? Where the bickering couple slowly came around to accepting each other’s defects? Of course, not every husband needs to carry his overweight wife on his back to prove a point!
But some hapless couples do not adapt and therefore, dissipate life in constant bickering. The continuous game of one-upmanship between such couples leaves their lives without charm. But adjusting and adapting brings its own rewards. You get the best of both worlds. And you buy peace and happiness in the bargain.