Long-term marriages and relationships – not a reality anymore
I was listening to my teenagers’ music and realised that the gist of their times is very ‘here and now’ – “will you be mine tonight?” whereas I grew up on a steady diet of now and forever – for eternity, for saat janams.
Long-term marriages and relationships seem to be dwindling with everyone leaving an exit backdoor open – just in case things sour up. However, many young people still hold the marriages of their parents as a role model and do maintain a sturdy steady relationship. Here’s a recipe to build a solid long-term relationship.
Understand and assimilate the meaning of commitment
Commitment must be a personal definition in these modern times when social and religious contexts do not hold sway. In the past, religion and social expectations were some of the reasons why couples stuck to one another.
Enduring relationships do stay together because of shared values and belief systems. Even new age spirituality talks of the temporal nature of life and how only change is a constant. So couples need to talk about commitment and what it means to each person.
Does it mean you will be exclusive partners? Or are we together – till death do us apart? People have to define, understand and put into practice what commitment means to them. Irrespective of what their peers may think of the term.
Never refuse a request for sex
Leaving one of the partners craving for sexual gratification can lead to frustration, anger and depression, not to mention the feeling of wanting to “phone a friend”.
When I got married at the age of 29, the only advice my mother gave me was – “never refuse sex”. I was surprised that this shy, demure woman could think of verbalising this. Then again, her marriage was as strong as a house built on rock and lasted all of 55 years.
Many years later she also said – “all good marriages are a result of hard work”. I agreed, you have to nurture and nourish this relationship as you do a plant or a pet. People who work in banks and corporates know how important it is to cultivate a client base. It is more personal in a long-term relationship and sometimes more strenuous. Sex, must not be compromised. From both the male and the female – it should be available on demand in many of its myriad forms.
Agree on sex, money, and kids
Sex, money, and kids are the large pebbles you need to fill the jar of long-term relationships; once these are settled the other aspects of life is a cake-walk.
For folks who intend on living together forever, some of your most vital conversations should be to agree and believe in the norms that will be followed with regards to sex. Some of the questions that need to be addressed are, what kind of sex, cunnilingus, fellatio, is anal OK, do we have polyamorous thoughts and is S&M out of bounds?
The next is money! How do we work our money, is everything a joint possession, do we spend on assets – which ones? Is my money yours? Or do we keep money matters strictly professional and go Dutch on every expense? Do we save and if so in what manner? If these are sorted then turn to the next most important part of long-term relationships – children.
Do we have any? How many? Should we adopt? Who will care for the children? Is a public school education necessary? What about homeschooling? How do we govern our children’s upbringing? A common thought process on these matters will smooth out the path to form a sturdy long-term relationship, whether live-in or marriage.
Trust is the foundation
If you are a pathological liar you can write-off the possibility of a long-term relationship, because nothing spoils a relationship as dishonesty, whether it is financial, emotional or physical.
In this day and age of facades and diplomacy, it is difficult to maintain a transparent relationship. If you are intent on building a long-term relationship with your significant other, you have to work on your ability to be honest about everything. This does not need to be a global phenomenon – just with your partner.
Once your integrity is questionable or you have been caught lying or cheating, the crack that forms in the fragile porcelain of your bond stays forever. It’s difficult to reclaim that level of trust. So, if anything should be your religion – it should be honesty.
Never hurt anyone intentionally
“In our house, we have only one rule, do not hurt anyone,” said my friend’s mother of 3 daughters and who was an absolutely adoring wife. Love conquers all – goes the saying and nothing can be more damaging than hurting your loved ones.
It may be impractical to keep everyone in your inner circle happy all the time but within the family, your spouse and children, the practice must be of unconditional love.
Belittling your partner in private is bad enough but it should be an absolute no-no to do so in front of friends or other family members. Hold round-table conferences, with your partner and children to solve conflicts with a rule laid down to have 5 positive points for each grouse or negative point being discussed. Keep the energy of love, appreciation and transparency to ensure a long-term relationship. Encourage discussion and rational conversations.
Unlike the popular notion, long-term relationships aren’t boring. Couples who have lived long, happy lives are the ones that steadfastly maintained deep-rooted, single-minded devotion to one partner. Every relationship goes through its own life cycle but the tenacious ones are the people who value, honesty, love and commitment.