Why do some matrimonial relationships seem blessed and others not?
In general, there are two types of marriages – those that work and those that don’t. For now, we’ll assume, for obvious reasons, that the working marriages are made in heaven. So their diametrically opposites, the marriages that don’t work, we will assume, are made in hell.
A marriage made in heaven
Hypothetically, what would be the outcome of a divinely sanctioned marriage? We can agree that, even if we don’t ask for miracles, there still has to be a seeking of some ideal. Let’s say, a match made in heaven should be a constantly and consistently uplifting and joyous experience for both parties.
What would be the hallmark of such a romantic union? Philosophically speaking, equality among the two partners – an intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual equality that forms the highest form of individual compatibility—a perfect match. That is, at a broad level, their fundamental motives and inspirations in life should be more or less identical.
At a more tangible level, a celestially blessed marriage should have relationship-affirming qualities in both partners, such as respect, admiration, pride, passion, empathy, intimacy, integrity, truthfulness, loyalty, understanding, shared goals, sexual desire, and the means to support the marriage. I do not mention love, only because, excluding money, the sum total of the qualities mentioned in the previous line is romantic love in its highest form.
Related reading: The romantic side of Ram and Sita’s relationship
When we look at marriages this way, we’ll realise that there are very few, if at all, that fit the ‘made in heaven’ tag. The truth is, marriages, even those that start off on the loftiest of premises, tend to come undone in parts, on certain occasions, over certain events, in moments of human weakness. They tend to fall apart now and then. Since human beings have the potential to evolve or devolve with time, the balance – the harmonious co-existence between the partners – favours one or the other at different times. What happens then?
The difference between heaven and hell
Compromise – the give and take between people to reach a mutually satisfactory solution in any situation – takes place. In the interest of their relationship, the couple work together to find a common ground that allows a win-win outcome. They deal with the conflict working within the framework of the very qualities I mentioned earlier that make their relationship a happy one. Compromise is the key that keeps open the door to the ‘forever’ both parties desire. If such is the case with working marriages, what is the defining attribute of those that don’t work? What does the proverbial hell bring along?
Sacrifice – the giving up of or surrendering something of value to oneself for something else (usually a lesser value), often resulting in the great pain of loss. The operative phrase being ‘the great pain of loss’. For a parent can sacrifice their sleep to watch over their newborn and feel happy and fulfilled about it. That is not the sacrifice we speak of.
A sacrifice that results in ‘the great pain of loss’ is a wife who gets beaten up every night by her drunk husband but still has to stay in the marriage because her parents refuse the idea of a divorce is sacrificing her happiness, well being and life to maintain a partnership which doesn’t value her. A woman who is passionate and brilliant at academics but is refused education by her husband because “a Khandani Bahu” does not do that is sacrificing her individuality, her dreams and her ambition to maintain a partnership which doesn’t value her.
The examples are all around us. We have seen sacrifice no doubt. Maybe even experienced it.
Related reading: 7 forgotten lessons on love from the greatest Hindu epic Mahabharata
Both compromise and sacrifice
Marriages that are open to compromises are defined by respect for one another. Marriages based on sacrifices, by disrespect. When a marriage is defined by more compromises than sacrifices, we have a relatively happy and satisfied couple. When there are more sacrifices than compromises, we have a sad and despairing partnership.
Marriages based only on compromises are rare. So are marriages based only on sacrifices. Most marriages fall somewhere in between – instances of compromises punctuated by demands for sacrifices. The reason why, on occasion, such relationships leave those involved with a vague sense of puzzlement, an inability to fully integrate all aspects of their marriage with one coherent, continuous thread. These connubial partnerships, with their moments of rights and wrongs, passion and struggles, love and anguish –like much that is human – are born to Earth. And that is the beauty and promise they hold – of being open to human ability and endeavour for continuous improvement. So, whether heaven does or does not, every individual has the power to bless their own Earth-born marriage. Good luck.